Conference in Hamburg on Power Sharing Agreements in Africa

November 07, 2008.  

Power Sharing Agreements in Africa: Implications for Peace, Democracy and Societal Trust



AEGIS Thematic Conference at the GIGA Institute of African Affairs, Hamburg, October 2009 (exact date to be specified in December 2008). Twelve contributors are invited to submit papers. Deadline 30 November.

Call for Papers

The GIGA Institute of African Affairs, based at Hamburg, is pleased to announce a conference on “Power Sharing Agreements in Africa: Implications for Peace, Democracy and Societal Trust”, to be held at Hamburg, in October 2009 (exact date will be specified by December 2008). Twelve contributors are invited to submit related papers.


Power sharing is a prominent aspect of most recent African peace settlements (Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Liberia, Sudan etc.), although there are important variations in the form power-sharing can take. Political, economic and military power sharing can be distinguished and all forms have distinctive meanings. Even more striking is the variation in the important question of who is sharing power with whom. Obviously, only those present at the negotiation table could really count on being included substantially in power sharing agreements. Recent academic contributions (Jarstad 2006, Paris 2004, Roeder 2005, Tull/Mehler 2005) have questioned the balance sheet of power sharing arrangements when analysing their impact on sustainable peace and/or democracy. In its simplest form the argument goes as follows: violent political entrepreneurs benefit primarily from those arrangements, they get rewarded for using violence in the first place. Power sharing arrangements sideline civilian and peaceful opposition forces. The lesson is therefore a problematic one for both peace and democracy: violence pays, democratic behaviour not. Less clear-cut is the argumentation on (transitional) institutional set-up: On the one hand, concrete power sharing arrangements frequently are at odds with democracy with regard to the widening of veto positions and limitations to majority rule, but on the other hand this might be the only way to preserve minority rights. A further problematic element is the role of outside mediators who more often than not advocate power sharing without questioning long-term effects. Often it is them to decide who is sitting at the negotiation table. A long-term process of building societal trust may be harmed by this intervention. Finally, the local level of both conflict escalation and conflict resolution may not be adequately captured by power sharing agreements that focus predominantly on the “partition of the national cake.”

This thematic conference in the AEGIS framework draws on a wide variety of disciplinary approaches (anthropology, history, sociology, peace studies, political science) and country experiences. The aim is to contribute to the state-of-the-art of social sciences and provide a forum for professional exchange to participating scholars and the public.

Three consecutive panels are proposed:


* Power sharing and peace: quick, dirty and prone to failure?

* Power sharing and democracy: elite pacts versus formal rules

* Power sharing and the local arena: what part for societal trust?



Cutting-edge papers applying systematic as well as comparative methods on the above subjects are invited. Case studies on Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Sudan (Southern/GoS, not Darfur) are most welcome. Papers on other country cases can also be submitted.


Please submit an Abstract of your paper to before 30 November 2008. Abstracts (about 150-400 words) should include title, name of presenter(s), institutional affiliation and contact information. You will receive a notification of acceptance latest by 15 December 2008. The deadline for the final papers is 15 August 2009, please send them to the above address.

All accepted papers will be accessible on the GIGA homepage. All will then be peer-reviewed. The best four contributions are published in a special issue of “Afrika Spectrum”, GIGA’s SSCI-rated international journal.


Günther Manske

Dr. Günther Manske