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Trust after Betrayal Research Brief Series


Research Brief:
Trust in the State and Peacebuilding

Author(s): Dr Gwen Burnyeat and Jonathan Röders

Published: May 2023

This research brief examines the challenges of building trusting state-society relations during peacebuilding interventions in fragile conflict contexts. State officials face people's negative perceptions of the state caused by neglect or violent intrusion in the past, being projected onto them, hindering constructive alliances. To address these challenges, the brief proposes the following adaptation strategies: Hiring practices should prioritise officials who reflect the diversity of local communities, facilitating the emergence of rapport. These officials should undergo context training focusing on perceptions of the state, historical experiences of violence and neglect, local politics and effective communication approaches. Moreover, instiutionalised long-term partnerships between state officials and communities based on mutual understanding and empathy are vital for trust building. In addition, coordination among state institutions is crucial to avoid inefficiency and contradictory policies, making the state more legible and nuanced to citizens.

To cite this research brief:
Burnyeat, Gwen and Röders, Jonathan. 2023. “Research Brief: Trust in the State and Peacebuilding”. Trust After Betrayal. 

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