A Piece of the Pie: Power Sharing and Postconflict Peace

PhD Thesis

Binningsbø, Helga Malmin (2011) A Piece of the Pie: Power Sharing and Postconflict Peace. PhD thesis, Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU, .

​Helga Malmin Binningsbø has submitted the thesis "A Piece of the Pie: Power Sharing and Postconflict Peace" to be defended for the PhD-degree at the Norwegian University of Science and Techbnology, Department of Sociology and Political Science
The trial lecture takes place on Friday 29 april 2011 at 10:15 on the given topic:
"How does the presence of an informal economy and/or a war economy affect the creation and functioning of institutions aimed at wealth distribution in the post-war era?"
The public defence takes place the same day at 13:15.
The assessment committee:
  • Professor Timothy Sisk, University of Denver
  • Dr. Kristin M. Bakke, University College of London
  • Professor Ola Listhaug, Departement of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU
Professor Ola Listhaug has administered the committees work.
The candidate has been supervised by Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch. The candidate's co-supervisor has been Professor Scott G. Gates. The trial lecture and public defence are open to the public.
The trial lecture and the public defence are held in Auditorium DL31, Låven, at the university campus Dragvoll.
The overwhelming majority of armed conflicts today occur within states and not between them. These conflicts are more difficult to solve than interstate wars and often restarts. What can prevent the parties from reverting to violence? This is the main question this dissertation seeks to answer. In ‘A Piece of the Pie: Power Sharing and Postconflict Peace' I examine the role of power sharing in postconflict societies. In particular, I ask if power sharing can prolong postconflict peace and prevent intrastate armed conflicts from recurring. Power sharing is a type of governing system aiming at including multiple political actors in decision-making processes. It is increasingly adopted in relation to peace agreements and political crises. Power sharing was used after election violence in Kenya in 2008, as part of the post-apartheid transition in South Africa, and after the civil wars in Nepal and Sierra Leone. Still, researchers disagree about whether power sharing brings peace and reconciliation or recurring conflict. I demonstrate that this disagreement stems from different understandings of power sharing: what it is, how it should work and how to study it. The dissertation consists of one introduction and five articles, and contains both statistical analyses of power sharing in all internal armed conflicts since the Second World War, as well as thorough analyses of power sharing after the Sierra Leonean civil war (1991– 2002). Four important conclusions can be drawn from this dissertation: 1) There is no inherent contradiction between power sharing and peace. I show that power sharing can strengthen postconflict peace, but the effect differs according to type of power sharing and context in which it takes place. 2) Mass level inclusion is just as important as elite inclusion. Previous research focuses on elite cooperation, while I demonstrate that mass level power sharing, through for example PR electoral rules and parliamentarism, reduces the risk of conflict recurrence. Additionally, I show that incomplete and poorly implemented mass level inclusion hampers postconflict peace. 3) The mechanisms linking power sharing to peace vary. Researchers usually discuss power sharing's role in addressing security concerns. In this dissertation I show that broad-based and inclusive institutions may constrain governments' opportunity to use violence against own citizens, and at the same time may deradicalize rebel groups and reduce their motivation to restart conflict. Further, I also disclose that a government may be able to use power sharing to marginalize a rebel group, and thus end war. 4) Exploring the implementation phase is crucial. Previous research usually investigates power sharing provisions in peace agreements. However, I argue that only by studying what actually happens on the ground can we learn more about the mechanisms linking power sharing to durable peace. Together, these conclusions add useful knowledge to the understanding of the role power sharing can play in war-torn societies.
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