Power Sharing Agreements, Negotiations and Peace Processes

Led by Scott Gates

Jan 2006 – May 2011

The purpose of this project is to examine the negotiation and bargaining processes leading up to power sharing arrangements in post-conflict environments. Power sharing refers to institutional arrangements designed to reduce the threat of conflict by giving all belligerents a stake in positive cooperation and a set of mutual guarantees of security and basic interests. However, such concessions made at the bargaining table may in some cases impede the establishment of a long-lasting and sustainable civil peace. The short-term advantages of power sharing may therefore under some circumstances be offset by longer-term disadvantages, and the purpose of this project is to improve our understanding of the merits as well as demerits of power-sharing arrangements. We will look at three important policy components that are often included in power sharing negotiations: (1) the recognition of ethnic and religious group rights, (2) the inclusion of a sunset date (a limitation on the duration of power sharing), and (3) wealth sharing (formulas to distribute the state’s resources or economic product among different regions or social groups). We will also examine the extent and nature of group guarantees produced by the power-sharing bargain. Based on these factors, we will develop and apply an analytical framework to examine the recent and ongoing negotiations in Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan. The framework will be a general tool to analyze the bargaining origins of power sharing arrangements, and not only limited to the five cases studies.

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