Local Arenas of Power Sharing (compl.)

This project explores the contested dynamics of power-sharing and peacebuilding in countries affected by violent conflict. Findings from the first phase indicate that the signing of power-sharing pacts is conducive to end violence in the short run. However, we also found that ending violence is insufficient to bring sustainable peace. Current policy discourses argue for institutional reform as a strategy to build peace. Interviewees repeatedly emphasized both the fragility of “peace” in their respective countries (Burundi, DRC, Liberia and Kenya) but also the uneven impact of peace-promoting institutional reform.

Deepening and expanding our research of the first phase, we are interested in the implementation and impact of institutional reform on peace at the local level (our dependent variable). We examine the conditions under which peace is promoted via the reform or wholesale top-down transfer of institutions, positing that successful institutional reform requires effective translation and local adaptation. By analysing a set of selected institutional reforms, namely decentralization and police reform, and comparatively analysing how they play out on the local level, we hope to give empirical substance to the concepts of adaptation and political hybridity as they relate to political order (peace). In doing so doing, we aim to make a significant contribution to the conceptual work of the

Priority Programme. More generally we seek to close an important gap in the literature, where disappointing results of peace-building have often been linked to a lack of capacities or local ownership, technocratic notions that tend to de-politicize the stakes of re-ordering war-torn societies.

In the second project phase we intend to pursue two objectives:

  • Empirically, we want to examine under which conditions institutional reforms that follow power sharing contribute to the consolidation of fragile peace in post-conflict environments. The “local arena” – albeit in a different phase of post-conflict development – remains our unit of analysis.


  • Conceptually, we want to investigate how standard institutional reforms like decentralization and police reform are translated and adapted in the process of their implementation at the local level. By exploring institutional reforms as processes and outcomes as hybridity, we intend to make a significant contribution to the conceptual work of the SPP 1448. We seek to identify explanatory mechanisms and degrees of hybridity or syncretism that outcomes reveal.


Results and Publications


Andreas Mehler, Claudia Simons, Denis M. Tull, Franziska Zanker

Power-sharing in Africa's war zones: how important is the local level?

in: Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 51, no. 4 (December 2013), pp. 681-704
Andreas Mehler, Claudia Simons, Denis M. Tull, Franzisca Zanker

The Local Arena of Power-Sharing: Patterns of Adaptation or Continued Disorder

Preliminary Findings

Project paper, March 2012, 24 pages
Claudia Simons, Franzisca Zanker

Finding the Cases that Fit: Methodological Challenges in Peace Research

GIGA Working paper, No 189, March 2012, 29 pages

SWP Comments

Paweł Tokarski, Serafina Funk
Non-euro Countries in the EU after Brexit

Between Fear of Losing of Political Influence and Euro Accession

Markus Kaim, Ronja Kempin
A European Security Council

Added Value for EU Foreign and Security Policy?