Colm Trant

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International Relations (2022 cohort)

My DPhil focuses on the relationship between power-sharing and conflict resolution. Experiences of conflict can leave societies deeply divided between communities, and these communities must be reconciled to avoid the danger of conflict resuming violently. In conflict-resolution practice, one frequent approach involves sharing power between communities, seeking stability by guaranteeing all communities’ political inclusion. Such arrangements exist globally, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Burundi, and Fiji.

However, despite the extensive adoption and practice of power-sharing, it remains ambiguous whether power-sharing induces the social change required to resolve conflict and secure lasting peace. This ambiguity is crucial for “consociationalism”, a theory supporting the efficacy and desirability of power-sharing in divided societies. My research tests a theoretical assumption: that power-sharing resolves conflict by providing trust-building elite cooperation through power-sharing institutions. If power-sharing resolves conflict, this information will prove valuable for practitioners’ benchmarks and course-corrections, like evaluating whether institutional designs require revision. If power-sharing does not resolve conflict, its utility can be properly delimited for future practice.

Prior to studying at Oxford, I earned an MA in Conflict Resolution from King’s College London, winning the Sir Lawrence Freedman Award for Best Master’s Student. For my BA, I studied History and Political Science at Trinity College Dublin, winning the Eddie Hyland Prize.