Ending Ethnic Conflict: Can Institutional Power Sharing Contribute to Sustain Peace in Burundi

Led by Elisabeth Lothe
Dec 2006 - May 2011

MA Project, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Oslo
PRIO Supervisor: Scott Gates
FAFO Supervisor: Morten Bøås

Power sharing institutions have become the international community’s ‘remedy of choice’ in building peace and democracy in states emerging from civil war. An examination of negotiated peace agreements since 1945 reveals that 97% of these have incorporated a form of power sharing. While a number of authors have contributed to develop theory on power sharing, it appears that few studies have been undertaken to enhance knowledge on how such agreements work on the ground.

This thesis sets out to contribute to the literature on the implications of power sharing arrangements in deeply divided societies. This will be done by studying power sharing in a particular setting, that of Burundi. The case of Burundi offers a number of lessons that can contribute to theoretical insights om power sharing in general. It is an extremely polarised society, currently emerging from four decades of intense societal violence, at present implementing its second effort at ending war through power sharing. This allows for an inter-temporal longitudinal comparison of the two power sharing arrangements of 1993 and 2005. In tracing the processes by which the agreements were created and by comparing the design of the two agreements, the aim of this project is to assess power sharing's impact on group-relations and whether the present agreement holds the potential to manage conflict.  



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