Researching the politics of development



Post-conflict pacts and inclusive political settlements: institutional perspectives from Solomon Islands

Working Paper 39

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David Craig and Doug Porter
Political settlements and pacts now feature prominently in donor narratives about transitions from conflict and institutional fragility to peace and prosperity. “Successful transitions” are said to occur when pacts between political and economic elites are deepened, made more democratically inclusive and gradually institutionalised through security and service delivery out to the edge of national territory. When mapped to any particular case, however, this narrative simplicity is confounded by the longer durée history, culture, geopolitics, institutional and political dynamics. This paper sets out to sharpen analytic tools and framings around post-conflict pacting, institution building and political settlement. Reflecting on the decade since international intervention in Solomon Islands in response to a period known as “ethnic tension”, it develops perspectives from Mustaq Khan and Dan Slater to frame an analysis based in the pacting amongst core actors (political, economic, international elites), and the institutional impacts of how they are enrolled, the modalities and material capabilities they deploy. The combination of these factors in pacts, coupled with how they strengthen or weaken formal and informal governing arrangements, we argue, certainly shape the emerging settlement. Various pacts, however, work according to different modalities and temporalities, to the extent that lining them up with donor interventions routinely results in unintended consequences, including, crucially, institutional layering.