Burning the tent down: violent political settlements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Perera, Suda (2017) Burning the tent down: violent political settlements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journal of International Development, 29 (5). pp. 628-644. ISSN 0954-1748

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There is a growing consensus amongst those working in conflict-affected states thatpolitical settlements—the formal and informal negotiations, bargains, pacts and agreements madebetween elite actors—are central to peace and development. Indeed, many now subscribe to the ideathat inclusive political settlements are required for positive developmental change. This is based on anotion that political settlements‘tame’politics by creating consensus around the rules of politicalcompetition and eliminate the need for political violence. However, especially in conflict-affectedstates, a focus on political settlements often ignores the (violent) processes by which elites cometo power and the extent to which elites may have incentives to maintain violence, even if a politicalsettlement is reached. Through a case study of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this articleshows that political settlements are not alwaysalternativesto violence and that even relatively stableand inclusive political settlements may be heavily underpinned by violence. A political settlementalone is therefore not a sufficient condition to ensure peace and development in a country. If thepolitical settlement is based on an understanding of the rules of the game which incentivises violenceand coercion by elites, then the outcome will necessarily be a violent one. As the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo shows, unless a political settlement directly addresses these predatoryincentives, the settlement itself may be a driver of conflict, violence and underdevelopment.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Sudakshini Perera
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2019 08:37
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2020 14:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87832

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