Avoiding Conflict Relapse through Inclusive Political Settlements and State-Building

This collaborative research project (IPS for short) aims to examine the conditions for inclusive political settlements following protracted armed conflicts. A specific focus is placed on previously armed power contenders who have become state actors. The project aims to inform national and international policymakers of effective practices to enhance participation, representation and responsiveness in post-war state-building. It is carried out in cooperation with partner institutions in Colombia (project coordinators), El Salvador, South Africa, South Sudan, Aceh/Indonesia and Nepal.

Many armed opposition groups and international peacebuilding agencies alike place the notions of inclusivity and participation at the heart of their agenda. Our aim is to critically examine to what extent these claims are adequately reflected in negotiation and decision-making processes after intra-state armed conflict. We also seek to assess whether such processes translate into actual and sustainable practices in post-war political (re-)settlements, governance and state-building. Based on participatory and empirical field research in six post-war contexts, we are deriving comparative lessons learned, which will be disseminated in the form of research and policy reports in Spring 2015. We have also held several national and regional expert workshops targeting various policy audiences, including former conflict protagonists turned power holders as well as international peacebuilding agencies.


2013 – 2015

Predecessor Projects

Non-State Armed Groups in Security Transition Processes, 2009 - 2012
Resistance/Liberation Movements and Transitions to Politics, 2006 - 2009

Project Website


Conflict Setting

Intra-state armed conflicts reflect deep structural patterns of (real or perceived) societal exclusion. Power contenders start to question the legitimacy of governing authorities and their monopoly over the use of force. Collective mobilisation to violent rebellion often results from shared grievances among marginalised social and political actors demanding greater participation in political governance and socioeconomic development. Effective and sustainable peace processes thus require new political settlements that (re-)establish legitimate and accountable governance based on participatory state-society relations.

International peacebuilding and development agencies have thus rightly placed inclusion and participation at the heart of their peace settlement and state-building support agendas. This project seeks to “unpack” and analyse these concepts in a critical and systematic manner.


Although primarily designed as a research endeavour, this project intends to be highly practice- and policy-oriented. Not only do we investigate the subject matter of inclusivity, we also strive to practice it by conducting participatory research with local institutional partners and – where possible and relevant – by engaging (previously) excluded and marginalised actors as “insider experts”.

Aims & Outcomes

“Inclusive political settlements” aims to:

  • Systematically define and analyse the dimensions of and criteria for inclusive political settlement and state-building,
  • Investigate the conditions under which inclusive negotiation and decision-making processes after civil war lead to inclusive governance outcomes,
  • Examine the specific role of former power contenders throughout these transitions – from exclusion to inclusion to potentially becoming inclusive actors themselves,
  • Examine the impact of inclusivity in terms of enhancing (or impeding?) legitimacy, accountability, effectiveness, empowerment, stability and trust-building in peace/state-building processes.

The project’s written outputs include various background papers and case study reports, along with several comparative and policy publications, written by researchers from our partner institutions, by external experts and by the research coordination team at the Berghof Foundation. 

Various policy dissemination events (international conferences, regional workshops and national seminars) were held in late 2014 and early 2015 to transfer the findings into practical lessons of how to internally build and externally support inclusive institutions, policies and state-society relations.

Academically, we also hope to contribute to scholarly debate on peace processes, state-building, democratisation, power-sharing and post-war governance.

Key Actors

The project fosters national stakeholders’ capacities to conduct inclusive governance. It does so by providing context-sensitive analysis and by feeding back policy recommendations to key multipliers in state institutions (including former power contenders), informal governance structures and civil society organisations. It also identifies best practices and lessons learnt for international agencies involved in mediation and post-war assistance for peace/state-building processes.


The case studies under investigation are Colombia, El Salvador, South Africa, South Sudan, Aceh/Indonesia and Nepal.


The project is coordinated by the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular/Programa Por La Paz (CINEP/PPP) Bogotá, (Colombia), while the Berghof Foundation manages the research activities.

Our local partners are:


The project is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), based in Ottawa (Canada).

January 2015 - Policy Dissemination Workshops in Asia

These two national policy discussion events in Kathmandu (Nepal) and Banda Aceh (Indonesia) and a regional forum in Jakarta (Indonesia) served as a platform for presenting and discussing some key research and policy lessons learnt. Specific focus was on findings from case studies on Nepal and Aceh and identifying practical implications (and pitfalls) for policy-makers, civil society, mediators and peacebuilding/development agencies supporting inclusive peace processes and democratic transitions in Asia

November 2014 - Workshop with World Bank group on Post-War Political Settlements

A regional policy workshop at the World Bank’s headquarters in Nairobi (Kenya) provided a platform for presenting and discussing some key research and practical lessons. Specific focus was directed towards exploring case study findings from South Africa and South Sudan and identifying some practical implications (and pitfalls) to supporting inclusive peace processes and democratic transitions in East Africa.

October 2014 - Conference and Workshop on “Challenges of Political Participation in Latin America” in Bogota

These events brought together former insurgent leaders from Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ecuador to discuss with Colombian institutions and the general public some lessons learnt from past peace processes. A specific emphasis was placed on the issues of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), security guarantees and political participation.

November 2013 - Project Conference “Inclusive political settlements” in Cape Town

This conference brought together representatives of all partner institutes contributing to the collaborative research project “Avoiding conflict relapse through inclusive political settlements and state-building after intra-state war”. The aims were to present and discuss preliminary empirical findings from field research in six countries (Colombia, El Salvador, South Africa, South Sudan, Nepal and Aceh/Indonesia) and to jointly identify initial comparative findings for research and policy.

June 2013 – Project Launch “Inclusive political settlements” in Bogotá

The new project “Avoiding conflict relapse through inclusive political settlements and state-building after intra-state war” (2013-2015), funded by the IDRC (Canada) and jointly led by the Berghof Foundation and CINEP (Colombia), was officially launched in Bogota mid-June 2013. Both international partners and advisory committee members were present at the event. The project’s primary objective is to enhance researchers’ capacities in the Global South to support inclusive political settlements and state-building processes by engaging in collaborative empirical research with local partners and former conflict stakeholders in Colombia, El Salvador, South Africa, South Sudan, Nepal and Aceh/Indonesia.

  • Véronique Dudouet & Stina Lundström: Post-war Political Settlements: From Participatory Transition Processes to Inclusive State-building and Governance. 2016. Research Report. PDF >
  • Katrin Planta, Vanessa Prinz & Luxshi Vimalarajah: Inclusivity in National Dialogues. Guaranteeing Social Integration or Preserving Old Power Hierarchies?. 2015. IPS Background Paper No.1. PDF >
  • David Rampf & Diana Chavarro: The 1991 Colombian National Constituent Assembly. Turning Exclusion into Inclusion, or a Vain Endeavour ?. 2015. IPS Paper No. 1. PDF >
  • David Rampf & Diana Chavarro: Entering the Political Stage. An Analysis of Former Guerrilla s ’ Experiences in Colombian Politics. 2014. IPS Paper No. 2. PDF >
  • Otty Patiño & Vera Grabe: Considerations Regarding Peace Negotiations in Colombia: 1990 - 2014. 2015. IPS Paper No. 3. PDF >
  • David Rampf: The Untold Story of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party in Colombia. The PRT’s Transformation from a Clandestine Party into a Legal Political Actor. 2015. IPS Paper No. 4. PDF >
  • Paul Graham: The 1996 Political Settlement in South Africa: An Analysis of the Primary Strands of the Negotiations and its Most Public Actors. 2015. IPS Paper No. 5. PDF >
  • Paul Graham: Committed to Unity: South Africa’s Adherence to Its 1994 Political Settlement. 2014. IPS Paper No. 6. PDF >
  • Nel Marais & Jo Davies: Interrogating the Impact of Intelligence Pursuing, Protecting, and Promoting an Inclusive Political Transition Process in South Africa. 2014. IPS Paper No. 7. PDF >
  • Nel Marais & Jo Davies: The Role of the Business Elite in South Africa’s Democratic Transition: Supporting an Inclusive Political and Economic Transformation. 2015. IPS Paper No. 8. PDF >
  • Padma Prasad Khatiwada: The Nepalese Peace Process: Faster Changes, Slower Progress. 2015. IPS Paper No. 9. PDF >
  • Balkrishna Mabuhang: From Peace Settlement to Political Settlement: State Restructuring and Inclusive Measures for Marginalised Groups in Nepal. 2015. IPS Paper No. 10. PDF >
  • Subindra Bogati: Assessing Inclusivity in the Post - War Army Integration Process in Nepal. 2015. IPS Paper No. 11. PDF >
  • Roberto Oswaldo López , Carolina Quinteros & Carlos Guillermo Ramos: State Reform after the Peace Accords: Negotiating and Implementing an Inclusive Political Settlement in El Salvador. 2015. IPS Paper No. 13. PDF >
  • Carlos Guillermo Ramos, Roberto Oswaldo López & Aída Carolina Quinteros: The FMLN and Post - War Politics in El Salvador From Included to Inclusive Actor?. 2015. IPS Paper No. 14. PDF >
  • Jok Madut Jok: The Paradox of Peace in Sudan and South Sudan: Why the Political Settlements Failed to Endure. 2015. IPS Paper No. 15. PDF >
  • Jok Madut Jok: Negotiating an End to the Current Civil War in South Sudan: What Lessons Can Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement Offer?. 2015. IPS Paper No. 16. PDF >
  • Guri Storaas : Participation on Paper but not in Practice? The South Sudan Constitutional Review Process. 2015. IPS Paper No. 17. PDF >
  • Agus Wandi & Nezar Patria: The Rebels, the State and the People: Inclusivity in the Aceh Peace Process. 2015. IPS Paper No. 18. PDF >
  • David Rampf y Diana Chavarro: La Asamblea Nacional Constituyente de Colombia de 1991 – De la exclusión a la inclusión o ¿un esfuerzo en vano?. IPS Artículo 1. PDF >
  • David Rampf y Diana Chavarro: Entrar en la escena política Un análisis de las experiencias de ex guerrilleros en la política legal colombiana. IPS Artículo 2. PDF >
  • David Rampf, David Castillo y Marcela Llano: La historia no contada del Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores: Un análisis de la transición del PRT de un partido clandestino a un actor de la política legal. IPS Artículo 4. PDF >
  • Otty Patiño y Vera Grabe: Consideraciones sobre Negociaciones de Paz en Colombia: De 1990 a 2014. IPS Artículo 3. more >
  • Roberto Oswaldo, López, Carolina Quinteros y Carlos Guillermo Ramos : Reforma del Estado después de los Acuerdos de Paz Negociando e implementando un acuerdo político inclusivo en El Salvador. IPS Articulo 13. PDF >
  • Carlos Guillermo Ramos, Roberto Oswaldo y Aída Carolina Quinteros: La arena política de las fuerzas contendientes en El Salvador ¿De incluidos a inclusivos?. IPS Artículo 14. PDF >
  • David Rampf and Diana Chavarro: १९९१ फहहष्कयणदेखि सभावेशी उन्भुि वा उऩरब्धधववहीन प्रमास कोरब्बफमारी याब्ष्िम सॊववधानसबा. आईवऩएस कामयऩत्र नॊ. 1. PDF >
  • Padma Prasad Khatiwada: नेऩारको शान्तत प्रक्रिमा् द्रुत ऩरयवततन, धीभा प्रगतत. कामऩतत्र नॊ. ४. PDf >
  • Balkrishna Mabuhang: नेऩारभा द्वन्दद्व स्थगनको कुयो देखि याजनीततक स्थातमत्वको कुयो सम्भ ससभान्दतकृत सभुदामहरुको रागग याज्मऩुनयसॊयचान य सभावेशी उऩामहरू. आईपऩएस कामयऩत्र नॊ. 10. PDF >

For additional publications from the past two projects on which this one builds, see Completed Projects.