State Responses to Social Unrest: Pathways out of Crisis

This report provides a short introduction to inform thinking on how social crisis ends, and the types of initiatives that help to bring it to conclusion. It begins by framing general considerations in how states respond to social unrest using peaceful responses, and moves to examine some of the most typical institutional responses: commissions of inquiry, national dialogues (or similar), amnesty, and indeed multi-pronged approaches which use more than one of these mechanisms. We touch on the issue of more fully fledged ‘transitions’ to a new political settlement, but do not engage in this in detail. Each type of response is dealt with in separate sections and is accompanied by some lessons learned from past attempts to respond to social unrest. The Appendices offer more detailed case study background on Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Mali, Bahrain, and Kenya.