There is very little evidence on what role donors can play in making political settlements more horizontally inclusive. The state of research on this area remains theoretical and not empirical, although there is a clear normative consensus that international actors need to consider inclusivity in political settlements.
The three areas of inquiry in this report (political settlements in FCAS; horizontal inclusion; donor roles) have an extremely small overlap, with hardly any literature examining this nexus. In the literature on inclusive political settlements in FCAS more broadly, there is little evidence of any role that international actors can play. The literature which does identify examples of donor roles does not then describe horizontal inclusion as one of the objectives or outcomes.
Few successful inclusive political settlements in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) had clear donor influence. The literature as it currently stands suggests that donors and international actors have not had key roles to play. National ownership and national motivation have by far been the more important factors for creating inclusivity, in cases such as Nepal, Kenya, and South Africa.
In cases where international actors have had some influence, a few commonalities can be found:
- Assistance tends to take the form of supporting existing groups and facilitating them to put forward their voices.
- National ownership of inclusivity projects is important. Broad-based coalitions of local support help create conditions for success.
- A coordinated approach between donors has proved helpful.
Experts suggest that the way to make the political settlement more inclusive is to provide support to marginalised groups – programmes which are designed to address horizontal inequalities more generally will also automatically make the political settlement more inclusive (Expert comments: Frances Stewart). However, the literature on social inclusion does not usually frame impacts in terms of increased inclusion in the political settlement. This is a conceptual gap which has yet to be bridged.