Governance systems and political processes that are more inclusive and representative have emerged as a leading priority in international development to foster more peaceful and resilient states and societies. However, how to do so remains a considerable challenge, especially for international development actors.
Over the past two decades, there has been growing recognition amongst international development practitioners that development is not only technical but also deeply political in nature. Despite this recognition, donors continue to rely on approaches to governance support that are overly technical, insufficiently differentiated and focused on formal reforms on paper, without recognising how informal institutions and power dynamics shape the way reforms are implemented in practice.
This article, published in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, explores one programme that is bucking this trend – attempting a more creative, politically smart approach to institution-building: the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Dialogue (NIMD)’s Dialogue for Stability (DfS) programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). DfS is a 5-year programme (2016–2020) intended to foster inclusive and legitimate political systems in five fragile and conflict-affected settings: Burundi, Colombia, Jordan, Tunisia and Ukraine.
This article highlights findings and insights from a mid-term evaluation of the DfS that we undertook in 2018 to review the programme’s progress after 2 years of implementation (GPG, 2018). The review suggests that the programme is making traction in promoting more inclusive institutions through innovative ways of working.