Post-Conflict Political Parties

I am currently the Principal Investigator of the project entitled Post-conflict political parties: Party formation, organisation and institutionalisation in the context of peace building and democratisation. 

This project is co-funded by the European Union’ s Seventh Framework Programme under Marie Curie grant agreement no. 608695 881 and the Research Council of Norway through the FRIPRO Mobility Grant, project no. 240110 (£380 000).

Since the end of the Cold War, most civil war endings have been premised upon the construction of party-based electoral politics. A majority of peace settlements also retain provision for armed groups to transform into political parties. Despite this, we still know very little about the role that political parties – and especially rebel group successor parties play in shaping post-war war trajectories. The project focuses on two main questions:

  • How do rebel group successor parties impact on long-term conflict resolution and peacebuilding in the aftermath of civil war?
  • To what extent do political parties aggregate, channel and express political grievances?

The project aims to provide answers to these questions through cross-regional comparisons of parties in the Balkans (Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo) and in Asia (Sri Lanka, East Timor and Indonesia/Aceh).  Three themes guide the study: (1) The transformative effects of war on parties including organisational legacies of war; (2) The effects of institutional framework aimed to regulate party behaviour, such as party laws, the use of quotas to enhance women’s representation and institutional frameworks aimed to break down wartime polarisation; and (3) intra-party governance dynamics that also impact on parties’ ability to formulate policy and governance more generally.

These three themes serve to bridge two literatures that rarely speak to each other; the literatures on political parties and on peace building/conflict resolution.

Main outputs (to date November 2018) 

PAW-logoPolitics After War Research Network: To continue building the foundation for research on rebel group transformation, political parties, political mobilisation in post-civil war contexts, I have founded the Politics After War Research Network with additional support from SPIRE (University of Bergen). For network activities look here and follow us on twitter @PAWscholars.

Project Workshops:

I have organised two project workshops and one project conference:

  • The workshop Former armed groups and the politics of state building after war was held on January 9, 2017 at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. This workshop, made possible by additional funding from the Philomathia Foundation, brought together a range of excellent speakers to discuss how former armed groups turned rulers or opposition parties shape post-war state building. Have a look here for the whole programme.
  • The workshop Transforming state visions: Ideology and ideas in armed groups turned political parties September 28-29, 2017, brought together authors to the forthcoming special issue in Government and Opposition. 
  • The conference Rebel Group Inclusion and the Effects on Democracy was held at Jesus College on April 18-20, 2018. Take a look here for the full programme of the conference. The outcome of the conference will be a co-edited book (with John Ishiyama), with planned publication in 2019.

The main publication outputs from this project is a series of journal articles, one co-edited special issue in Government and Opposition (with Devon Curtis), a forthcoming co-edited book (with John Ishiyama) as well as a research monograph, which is in progress (estimated completion August 2019).

Talks/presentations (selected)
  • A new post-war rhetoric by former armed groups in politics?  The UN Genocide Convention at Seventy: The Politics of Mass Atrocity Prevention”  the Norwegian Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities, Oslo Sept. 6–7, 2018.
  • Former rebel parties and peacebuilding: Balancing short-term goals and long-term implications, Paper presented at the Conflict Research Society’s Annual Conference, Birmingham Sept. 17-18, 2018.
  • Balancing Patronage and Popular democracy, paper presented at the Politics After War Research Network Conference, Jesus College, Cambridge April 18-20, 2018.
  • 4thAnnual Philomathia Symposium: Where Does Democracy Reside? St Cathrine’s College, University of Cambridge:  Title: Can State-Building Ever be Post-Conflict?, 2017.
  • Political parties as Conflict Managers. Paper presented at Conflict Research Society’s Annual meeting, Oxford September 18-19, 2017
  •  Ideological moderation on the issue of secession: A cross-regional comparison of ethno-nationalist parties, the Association for the study of nationalism (ASN) Annual Convention, New York, May 4-6, 2017.
  • From ethnic to civic nationalism? A comparative study of formerly armed ethno-nationalist movements’ adaptation to multi-party democracy, the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN), London School of Economics, March 27-28, 2017.
  • Peace politics and the road ahead: Ideological moderation and political reframing by former secessionist movements, paper presented at the Rebels in power workshopFormer armed groups and the politics of state-building after war, Emmanuel College, January 9, 2017.
  • Intra-organizational change and political moderation in ethnic parties: Comparison of post-war parties in Bosnia Herzegovina’, paper presented at ECPR General Conference, Prague Sept. 7-10, 2016.