Executive Summary

This paper provides an analysis of findings from the case of Yemen, as part of an 11-country research and dialogue project that examines what drives a resilient national social contract in countries affected by conflict, fragility or unresolved political settlements. Yemen’s multidimensional civil war and proxy war manifested immediately after the highly celebrated National Dialogue Conference (NDC) that was brokered by the Gulf States and the international community. Despite the thoughtful approach and inclusive process, it was not sufficient to build enduring peace. Different regional groups and political elites in Yemen, including some who have politicised their grievances, deepened divisions, proving that a power grab, and not a resilient social contract, is their priority. In failing to reach a nationally driven and locally based political settlement, Yemen exemplifies the risk of not addressing fundamental grievances that make it even more difficult to achieve a more permanent, resilient social contract and that might even conflict. This paper addresses the core conflict issues and the degree to which competing narratives and informal politics affected the making of a resilient social contract.

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