Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

Understanding inclusive and legitimate politics

23 Jan 2017 - 14:27

How well do donors understand political relations, power and interests in fragile societies from the perspectives of inclusiveness and legitimacy? Where they do, do they act upon their insights in their diplomatic and development initiatives?

On the basis of four case studies - Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Timor-Leste – this report finds that donors tend to work with an inadequate understanding of the politics of fragile societies beyond their governments. The report also finds that donors continue to offer a standardised ‘political-support package’ to improve political inclusivity and legitimacy that focuses on the technical and procedural aspects of an idealised democracy. Neither are adequate to work with the contested and fragmented politics of fragile societies.

These findings matter because development is an intensely political process. Effectively stimulating development is a hard thing to do without understanding the politics that drive it. In fact, support might well do harm or perpetuate existing power structures.

The report offers an evidence-based call for the international community to increase its ability to understand and act upon the politics of development in its aid and diplomatic efforts.