Forging Resilient Social Contracts:
States and Societies Sustaining Peace
A Research and Scholar-Policy Dialogue Project
"Forging Resilient Social Contracts" is a twelve country research and scholar-policy dialogue project that aims to revitalize the social contract concept in contexts affected by conflict and fragility, producing findings to advance policy and practice pathways for achieving and sustaining peace. The research is inspired by the question: what drives a resilient national social contract in countries affected by conflict and fragility? Comparative findings aim to elucidate how the social contract manifests, adapts to, and is understood in different contexts.
The research investigates three postulated “drivers” of a resilient social contract that have been developed through a deep examination of the relevant bodies of literature and subject to extensive discussion with the project team of advisers:
- The extent to which core conflict and fragility issues are addressed through an evolving, inclusive, political settlement and institutional spheres of “social-contract making;”
- Increasingly effective, fair, and inclusive institutions (state, customary, other non-state and international) are performing key functions with increasingly broadly shared results;
- Broadening and deepening social cohesion – understood as the formal and informal ties that hold society together both horizontally (across citizens, between groups) and vertically (in the relations between citizens/groups and the state) – that draw upon clear mechanisms and related commitments that value and build inclusivity.
The project is cultivating both qualitative, context-rich examination of country cases on the one hand, and a structured, focused comparison around particular propositions between cases, on the other. Particular attention is being paid to differential interests of social groups, notably women and youth, and ethnic and religious groups, while cross-cutting thematic streams on inclusion/exclusion, the roles of international actors, and “resilience for peace” capacities, are being investigated. Findings will be validated in numerous ways – notably, through a series of scholar-policy “dialogues” on the findings, and through the development of an “expert-based” scoring scheme around the three “drivers.” This will enrich the potential for comparative policy findings, serving as a pilot for development of a possible social contract index. The project activities are underway in 2016-2018, and will culminate in a series of policy papers on cross-cutting themes emerging from the research, and a book, that will be launched in several settings internationally.
The project has gratefully received support from UNDP’s Oslo Governance Center, the Julian J. Studley Fund of the Graduate Program of International Affairs at The New School, the Bellagio Center / Rockefeller Foundation, and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation.
See new project website: www.socialcontractsforpeace.org
Authors workshop reflects on research findings
Bellagio Center, Italy, February 27 through March 3, 2017
The project is a proud recipient of a Bellagio Center, Rockefeller Foundation award. At the end of February 2017 members of our working group met in Bellagio, Italy, to reflect upon progress and emerging findings of the case study research. Our esteemed working group of authors and project advisers spanning scholarly, policy and practice realms met for four days to engage in interactive discussions. The group discussed research progress and challenges, shared reflections on key, cross-cutting issues and themes, and areas of convergence and uniqueness within different cases, and developed strategies to maximize policy impact.
Working Group and Advisors