Using a power-sharing arrangement to integrate insurgents into a country’s political system, either by granting them government cabinet posts or greater territorial autonomy, has become an increasingly common method by which to pacify violent conflicts. However, power-sharing reinforces patterns of corruption and patronage, which are detrimental to sustainable peace and development in the long run. This is especially problematic as some of this corrupt behavior is fueled by official development assistance.
Power-sharing institutions have been empirically shown to prolong peace after civil conflict. Nevertheless, an often overlooked but central mechanism to this is that powersharing institutionalises access to state resources for both the government and rebels. Political elites from both sides often divert state income to finance their political support networks or simply to enrich themselves, creating a political economy of corruption and patronage.
Power-sharing often ends long-running bloodshed. But by simply buying off violent state and non-state actors, it frequently fails to address the root causes of conflict. Furthermore, by institutionalising self-enrichment and clientelism, powersharing may actually inhibit post-conflict political and economic development in the long run.
Post-conflict countries with power-sharing institutions are, on average, more corrupt than post-conflict countries without power-sharing institutions−at the same time, official development assistance to power-sharing countries has increased.
Post-conflict Liberia and Aceh, Indonesia, show that the political economy of power-sharing is at play in both political power-sharing arrangements (whereby political office is distributed amongst former belligerents) and territorial power-sharing arrangements (whereby greater territorial autonomy is granted to a rebel group).
International donors need to be aware of the inherent dilemma in buying peace through power-sharing: securing peace in the short term can result in increased corruption. Although corruption may be a necessary side effect of ensuring immediate peace, international assistance should focus on reducing corruption in the long run.
Buying Peace? The Political Economy of Power-Sharing, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 09, November, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-453152(2015),
The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at www.giga-hamburg.de/en/giga-focus. According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.
The GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.
General Editor GIGA Focus Series: Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming
GIGA Focus Africa, 06/2019
Conflict Management and Peace Science, online first, 2019
Journal of Peace Research, 55, 2018, 6, 742-758
Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Sonderheft, 52, 2017, 288-311