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Military power-sharing


Military Power-Sharing describes the ways in which different armed groups can be brought within some form of common military framework, by peace negotiations. It sets out different models of power-sharing with examples.

Military power-sharing animation

Military power-sharing involves sharing military decision-making and/or operational tasks between different armed contenders for power; or providing for proportionality of ethno-national groups or former combatants in ranks and file or command structures.

Soldiers on the front line in battlefield

Military power-sharing takes forms such as:

Joint military command structures (between state and rebel forces)

Example: Ouagadougou Political Agreement, Cote d'Ivoire

3.1.1. In keeping with the spirit of joint handling of issues related to defence and security, the two former belligerent Parties agree to create an Integrated Command Centre for the purpose of integrating the two fighting forces and implementing measures for the restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) of Côte d’Ivoire.

Proportion of agreements with military power-sharing and its component parts

We agree that, as prescribed in the Federation Constitution, the Cantonal governments shall ensure that the composition of the police shall reflect that of the population, according to the 1991 census, provided that the composition of the police of each Municipality, shall reflect the composition of the latter.

Page 3, Concrete Steps, 5, Agreement on Restructuring the Police (Bonn-Petersburg Agreement), Bosnia and Herzegovina-Yugoslavia (former) 25/04/1996

Military power-sharing can be an effective tool for ending violence because it focuses on including groups key to the conflict – rather than assuming that rebel groups will unilaterally ‘disarm and disband’ while the state army remains.

Case study: Mozambique

2 Military power-sharing agreements
Handshake with document agreements
Renamo and Frelimo merging RENAMO FRELIMO
Sought to merge the forces of RENAMO (rebels) and FRELIMO (state forces)
  • RENAMO received security guarantees and a place in the state security forces while FRELIMO maintained elements of control (Manning 2002).

  • RENAMO combatants transferring to the joint military were allowed to keep their rank even if the had not received the training commensurate with that position. They also were guaranteed high ranking roles for senior officers (Dayton and Kriesberg 2009).

  • International involvement was important. While the parties willingly came to the negotiating table, the UN facilitated the complicated and delicate nature of the deliberations.

International actors are often also involved in the fabric of military power-sharing arrangements: as peacekeepers, undertaking military support functions, training, and financing.

Peacekeepers NATO IFOR KFOR

Military power-sharing must be understood as one part in a wider ‘security transition’.

Military power-sharing is often agreed as an alternative form of demobilisation, demilitarisation and reintegration (DDR) measures, or put in place as part of a wider attempt as security sector reform (SSR). DDR, SSR and forms of military power-sharing may all be part of a ‘security transition’, which is itself a political process.

Set of three circles: 1, circle of small circles; 2, circle of larger circles and finally 3 one large solid circle

Inclusion Challenges: Military power-sharing arrangements focus on the inclusion of groups key to the conflict but in doing so can create perverse incentives to smaller groups outside of the main peace agreement consensus to assert their claims violently.

The Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005)

Recognised and addressed

Two circles each with a soldier to represent the two groups

when in reality

Army of soldiers

The others then ramped up violent activities in an attempt to gain a position in the national military.

Power-sharing may result in sharing military power in a unified force, or a form of 'splitting' power and 'forces-within-forces', that is more difficult to control.

The result may be a joint exercise of power in a unified state army or ‘split’ security force with ‘forces within forces’ reporting to a split ‘government of national unity’ or a highly territorially devolved political arrangement.

Military rotating jigsaw


Military power-sharing means those most responsible for the conflict will control the military. Rule of law and human rights protections can help mitigate this.

Proportion of Military Power-Sharing agreements that also contain provisions for Human Rights / Rule of Law

Human Rights/ Rule of Law 46%

Human rights and rule of law can be brought into military power-sharing agreements by:

  • Widening the social ambition of inclusion measure beyond armed actors.
  • Human rights and humanitarian law commitments, and amnesty.


See publications at:

In particular: Bell, C., Gluckstein, S., Forster, R., & Pospisil, J. (2018). Military Power-Sharing and Inclusion in Peace Processes (PA-X Report, Power-Sharing Series). Edinburgh: Global Justice Academy, The University of Edinburgh.