‘Spoilers’ are individuals or groups that actively seek to hinder, delay or undermine conflict settlement (Newman & Richmond, 2006). They often benefit from the war system, and would be negatively affected by an end to conflict. This is similar to the idea of ‘dividers’, which are negative factors that increase tensions between people or groups, reduce their ability to resolve conflicts non-violently and may lead to violent conflict. ‘Capacities for peace’ refers to actors, institutions or relationships that have the desire and/or capacity to promote peace. This is similar to the idea of ‘connectors’, which are positive factors that reduce tensions between people or groups, improve cohesion and promote constructive collaboration (OECD DAC, 2007). It can be useful to think about what divides and connects people, and the role spoilers and capacities for peace play in entrenching or bridging these divides. To understand the distribution and control of power vis-à-vis conflict, some donors focus on what actors are included/excluded from the ‘political settlement’. While definitions vary, and it is a contested concept, this Topic Guide understands the political settlement as ‘the informal and formal processes, agreements, and practices that help consolidate politics, rather than violence, as a means for dealing with disagreements about interests, ideas and the distribution and use of power’ (Laws & Leftwich, 2014: 1). The idea is that, for a political settlement to be stable and non-violent, it needs to be inclusive of 1) the elites that have the power to disrupt peace and, some argue, also 2) wider societal groups that are currently marginalised from (e.g. DFID, 2015). The question of who to include and how depends on how the actors interact. Guiding questions Profile: What is the context that shapes conflict? Is there a history of conflict? (e.g. when? How many people killed and displaced? Who is targeted? Methods of violence? Where?) What political, economic, social and environmental institutions and structures have shaped conflict? (e.g. elections, reform processes, economic growth, inequality, employment, social groups and composition, demographics and resource exploitation) Heritage in conflict Actors: Who are the actors that influence conflict? Who are the main actors? (e.g. the military, leaders and commanders of non-state armed groups, criminal groups) What are their interests, concerns, goals, hopes, fears, strategies, positions, preferences, worldviews, expectations and motivations? (e.g. autonomy, inequality between groups (‘horizontal inequality’), political power, ethno-nationalist, reparations) What power do they have, how do they exert power, what resources or support do they have, are they vulnerable? (e.g. local legitimacy through provision of security, power over corrupt justice institutions, weapons and capacity to damage infrastructure) What are their incentives and disincentives for conflict and peace? (e.g. benefiting or losing from the war economy, prestige, retribution for historic grievances) What capacities do they have to affect the context? Who could be considered spoilers? What divides people? Who exercises leadership and how? (e.g. economic beneficiaries of conflict, criminal groups, opposition leader) What could be considered capacities for peace? Are there groups calling for non-violence? What connects people across conflict lines? How do people cooperate? Who exercises leadership for peace and how? (e.g. civil society, religious authorities, local justice mechanisms) What are the relationships between actors, what are the trends, what is the strategic balance between actors (who is ‘winning’)? (e.g. conflictual, cooperative or business relationships)