Conflict Mitigation versus Governance: The Case of Consociation in Iraq

Dylan O'Driscoll, Irene Costantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Consociational power sharing has become one of the leading mechanisms of governance introduced in deeply divided post-conflict societies. When communal divisions seem intractable, it is seen as a way to use these very divisions to reach an agreement and form a post-conflict government. Using post-2003 Iraq as a case study, this article critically examines consociation in practice. It argues that consociational power sharing is extremely valuable to reach an agreement, mitigate conflict, and form a post-conflict government. However, in Iraq, consociational power sharing has failed to meet the governance needs of the population, and although governments are formed, they do not necessarily govern. In a post-conflict society like Iraq with considerable development needs, failure of consociational governance has substantial negative impacts on the population. What this teaches us about consociation in Iraq is that it has a shelf life, because the governance needs continuously grow as a repercussion of them not being met and eventually reach the level where they outweigh the conflict-mitigating benefits of consociation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-84
Number of pages20
JournalNationalism and Ethnic Politics
Issue number1
Early online date3 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Consociationalism
  • Governance
  • Federalism
  • Iraq

Institute themes

  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Peace and Conflict


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