Political Settlements: Implications for International Development Policy and Practice

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By Thomas Parks, William Stadden Cole

Occasional Paper No. 2, July 2010

The processes of development are fundamentally shaped by powerful political, economic, and security actors in aid-recipient countries. These actors use their influence to shape formal governance institutions, policies, and the distribution of development assistance to advance their interests. The political settlements framework is an important new approach that may help international development organizations to better understand and respond to this reality and the challenges to developmental progress that is often affected by political dynamics in developing countries. This paper seeks to translate the concepts underlying political settlements into principles, strategies, and guidelines for practical action by donors and other development assistance organizations.