This paper explores how the concept of ‘political settlement’ in statebuilding arose, identifies its essential elements, the level of consensus around them, and tests out some of its normative content.
Over the past five years, several major international development policy statements and declarations have adopted ‘political settlement’ as a framing concept to guide statebuilding practice in fragile and conflict-affected states, and encouraged efforts towards achieving an inclusive, or inclusive enough, political settlement in order to underpin stability. Despite the policy enthusiasm, the concept itself remains elusive. This discussion paper explores how the concept ‘political settlement’ arose and where it came from, identifies its essential elements and the level of consensus around them and tests out some of its normative content. Finally it considers where the concept might go from here.