© U.S. Department of State
TRUST & VIOLENCE IN FRAGILE CONTEXTS
06 April 2023
11:00-12:00 (EST) / 16:00-17:00 (GMT)
Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution
Daniel Rothbart specializes in the prevention of mass violence, ethnic conflicts, power and conflict, the ethics of conflict resolution, civilians in war and the psycho-politics of conflict. He currently serves as co-director of the Program on Prevention of Mass Violence. He is also the director of the Laboratory entitled Transforming the Mind for Peace. Professor Rothbart’s academic writings include more than sixty articles and chapters in scholarly journals and books. Professor Rothbart received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Washington University, St. Louis, and began his academic career in the department of philosophy at GMU. He also held positions as visiting research scholar at Linacre College, Oxford, University of Cambridge and Dartmouth College.
Professor Jenny Pearce, Research Professor, LSE LACC
Jenny Pearce is a political scientist who specialises in Latin America. She works with anthropological and participatory research methodologies on social change, violence, security, power and participation in the region and beyond. She considers herself a peace scholar, committed to theoretical development of the field of peace, power and violence as well as empirical study. She has conducted fieldwork since the 1970s in Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Venezuela. Professor Pearce has also developed a body of work around participation and exclusion in the global North, bringing learning from Latin America (South North learning) to the realities of urban conflict and tensions in the de-industrialised north of England.
Violence in society can occur within and outside of armed conflict, and the issue of trust plays a crucial role in understanding its manifestation and resolution. Traditionally, the absence of the state has been considered a primary cause of conflict. However, in many instances, state presence has directly contributed to systematic violence against civilian populations. This highlights the need to move away from dichotomous thinking that separates the violence of armed conflict from other forms of violence. Instead, it is necessary to acknowledge the ambiguity and fluidity of violence and its various forms.
It is also crucial to understand how changes in the configurations of local and global violence are impacting trust. The emergence of new forms of vertical (mis)trust and organisational innovations by criminal groups presents both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, initiatives such as collaborations between community leaders, social service providers, and law enforcement have resulted in small-scale ceasefires between warring gang factions in various contexts. On the other hand, there is a growing mistrust in state institutions in many countries, and non-state armed groups and other violent interests are taking advantage of instability to increase their presence and threat to human security.
Despite these challenges, addressing trust in fragile and violence-affected contexts is essential from both an organisational and a human security perspective. First, trust is a crucial component in building effective partnerships between various actors who must work together to resolve the problem of violence. Trust among institutional actors can lead to increased cooperation, resource sharing, and information exchange, while trust in institutional actors can contribute to increased community support for programming and engagement with law enforcement and formal justice mechanisms.