Trust-building in Security and Rule of Law partnerships

Project Image Photo © Shutterstock / Soumyabrata Roy

With this research project, we aim to contribute to the development of a research agenda on the state of trust and trust-building in SRoL partnerships.

Timeframe: 2021 - 2022

Trust-building is at the heart of Security and Rule of Law (SRoL) programming in conflict-affected societies. Trust between citizens and security actors is considered key for state legitimacy. What is more, the ability to act cooperatively helps communities to recover from and actively prevent violent conflict. Thus, trust is an essential component of social contracts, paramount for societal reconciliation and political transformation.

However, we currently observe erosions of trust in institutions and fellow citizens across the globe. These erosions unravel trust relationships between individuals and within social groups. Most pertinently, they affect the generalised trust that constitutes the social fabric, as well as citizens’ trust in governance institutions. These developments suggest that social contracts worldwide are currently undergoing processes of renegotiation and profound change. For SRoL policy-makers and practitioners it is critical to understand the implications of these developments, if they wish to meaningfully contribute to trust-building in conflict-affected societies.

With this research project, we aim to contribute to the development of a research agenda on trust-building in SRoL partnerships. Drawing on literature review and interviews, we will highlight multiple perspectives on and pathways to trust and trust-building. Based on our findings, we will engage the SRoL community in a debate on broader lessons of trust-building and how to reflect these lessons in relevant policies.

This project is carried out in cooperation with the IFSH.

IFSH logo

Activities and outputs

  • Assessment of underlying approaches to trust-building, with a focus on SRoL policy and practice of the Netherlands and Germany
  • Literature review of various perspectives on trust-building and reconciliation, with a focus on Global South/African scholarship
  • Empirical investigation of trust-building needs in SRoL programming, with a focus on Ethiopia
  • Facilitation of peer exchanges in the SRoL community on broader lessons on trust-building
  • Policy brief and research report on the role of trust-building in SRoL partnerships
  • Dissemination events aiming at the developments of a respective research agenda


This research project is supported with funds provided by the Knowledge Platform Security and Rule of Law (KPSRL), through its Knowledge Management Fund (KMF). The KMF serves to fund projects that contribute to improving the learning capacity and knowledge base within the SRoL field, specifically decision makers for SRoL policy and programmes.

KMF logo


Dr. Karoline Eickhoff, Berghof Foundation,

Viktoria Vogt, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy,




Project lead

Karoline Eickhoff


Media contact

Florian Lüdtke
Media and Communications Manager
+49 (0) 177 7052758
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