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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Fragile states and the spoils of power

How do so-called fragile states exercise and maintain political power? What actors and institutions are involved in this process? How do they distribute the spoils of power amongst the elite and the population at large?

These questions lie at the heart of a new research programme on political settlements in conflict-affected states funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) is a four-year programme that aims to inform policy at national and international level. It is implemented by a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy. The other partners in the consortium are the London and Nairobi-based Rift Valley Institute, the London-based Conciliation Resources, the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University and the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. 

The PSRP focuses on the actors involved in political settlements. Who do they have to negotiate with to secure stability? And how can such political settlements be shaped and influenced by internal or external intervention?

John Ryle, Executive Director of the RVI, welcomed the opportunity to be part of this research programme: “The RVI’s aim is to bring a better understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. This partnership, formed to investigate how political order is shaped and maintained in so-called fragile states, is an opportunity for field-based research to inform policy in Africa and beyond."

The RVI’s work under the PSRP will focus on governance structures in the eastern DRC and on stabilization efforts in Somalia. More information and news are available on the PSRP website and on its Twitter account @polsettlements

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