The Political Settlements Research Group

The Political Settlements Research Group brings together scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches with a shared interest in studying the origins, nature, and impact of political settlements in fragile and conflict-affected states around the globe. Our engagement with settlement processes are both academic and practical, and we advance scholarly knowledge and understanding and actively contribute to public debates and policy discussions on and in settlement contexts, including with regard to the structure of negotiations and mediation processes, the design of settlements, and the sequencing and resourcing of implementation efforts.

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Contact: Dr Giuditta Fontana
The Political Settlements Research Group is part of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS).

ICCS researchers Dr Giuditta Fontana, Dr Argyro Kartsonaki, Dr Natascha Neudorfer, Dr Dawn Walsh, Prof Stefan Wolff and Dr Christalla Yakinthou have been developing a fine-grained dataset of peace agreements in intra-state conflicts (Political Agreements in International Conflicts, or PAIC). The dataset – comprising over 300 peace agreements concluded between 1989 and 2017 – is designed to provide insights into settlement strategies that promote resilience and longevity.

The researchers are working with mediators and policymakers in regions across the world to determine the strategies that can foster a successful transition from conflict to peace. This research is vital to our understanding of how peace settlements work and, ultimately, succeed. 


Understanding and managing intra-state territorial contestation: Iraq's disputed territories in comparative perspective (Jun 2015 - May 2018)

Iraq remains a country of fundamental importance to the international community, and especially to the UK. Following regime change in 2003, Iraq lurched from crisis to crisis, with the political process maintained by the presence of overwhelming US military force until the withdrawal of US combat forces in December 2011. With the US and her allies having withdrawn military forces from Iraq, recent years have witnessed a return of significant instability in the relationships between elites, and have seen a rise in the rhetoric of sectarianism and ethnic nationalism. Iraq remains extremely exposed and vulnerable to the manipulations of other Middle East regional powers (namely Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Gulf states), while being intrinsically tied into the deteriorating situation in Syria. As such, the maintenance of stability in Iraq and the prevention of conflict between key actors are deemed of critical importance not only in Iraq itself, but also among international stakeholders, including the UK, US, the EU, and the UN.

Towards a Culture of Peace? Cultural Policy and Power-Sharing after Civil War

Schools, the media, museums and other cultural institutions are crucial to consolidating peace after civil wars. But can cultural policy foster a culture of peace after violent ethnic, religious and national conflicts? This research aims to provide the first understanding of the relationship between cultural institutions and post-conflict state-building. It analyses all intra-state peace agreements signed since 1989, before focusing on cultural policy in four societies that experienced violent inter-communal conflicts and established resilient power-sharing governments (such as Northern Ireland, Lebanon and the FYR of Macedonia). It aims to influence the design of future peace agreements in war-torn countries and contribute to theories of conflict management and reconciliation. For further information, contact Giuditta Fontana.

The Political Economy of Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Situations
(German Research Foundation)

Power-sharing has become a frequently employed tool for conflict-management and democratization after civil conflict. But how precisely does power-sharing bring about peace and/or democracy? What are the mechanisms through which post-conflict power-sharing works? The research project ‘The Political Economy of Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Situations’ addresses these questions through an in-depth analysis of the impact of power-sharing on the exercise of political power. Building on the existing political economy literature, it specifically examines the relationship between power-sharing and sub-national resource allocation. The research employs a mixed-method research design, combining advanced statistical research methods with qualitative field research in Liberia and Indonesia. For further information, contact Martin Ottman

How entrenched guarantees and coordination mechanisms contribute to the success of complex power-sharing in post-conflict societies

A remarkable characteristic of current conflict resolution practice is that a large number of actual and proposed settlements involve a broad variety of different conflict settlement mechanisms. The need to combine a range of diverse mechanisms has been increasingly understood by practitioners of conflict resolution and is referred to as “complex power-sharing”. The research explores the operation of complex power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Moldova, Macedonia and Iraq. It focuses on how, in an environment of low trust, these arrangements are guaranteed to prevent the arbitrary abrogation of devolved powers and overcome difficulties and disputes between the different layers of government. It also examines how independent committees and commissions can act as additional spheres of power-sharing in these contexts. For further information, contact Dawn Walsh.

The European Union and Contested States: Conflict, Statehood and Sovereignty in World Politics

Dr George Kyris' research focus is conflict and unrecognised states, especially in relation to the European Union. In his latest project, he draws on discussion on discourse and sovereignty to explore a) what is the EU’s approach towards unrecognised states and the conflicts they relate to and b) what does that tell us for the way the international community understands statehood and treats those that try to claim it for themselves and the implications of these for conflict and security. His list of publications includes his book 'The Europeanisation of Contested States: The EU in northern Cyprus' (Ashgate 2015), articles for the Journal of Common Market Studies and Comparative European Politics and he has also been invited to for many mainstream media and has also offered evidence to policy-makers, including the Home Office and the House of Lords. 

Stefan Wolff’s TED talk

Christalla Yakinthou’s TEDx talk

Latest research news

Posted 05 December 2018

Economic Connectivity and Diplomacy

International election observers aim to detect and deter electoral fraud — and build public confidence in the election process. This makes credibility a valuable commodity and explains why international observers take pains to present themselves as objective and impartial actors.

Posted 01 October 2018

ICCS Annual Report 2017/18

The Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security is pleased to present its annual report for 2017/18, which highlights the range of important research taking place.

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Contact: Dr Giuditta Fontana

The Political Settlements Research Group is part of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS).