How Can Political Trust Be Built after Civil Wars? Lessons from Post-Conflict Sierra Leone

Abstract

Liberal peacebuilding has received a considerable amount of criticism in the recent peacebuilding and state building literature. Critics of the liberal approach argue that electoral democracy is a foreign-imposed institution, which often does not enjoy public acceptance and legitimacy as local institutions do. Post-conflict Sierra Leone has undergone a similar struggle when the Local Government Act was introduced in 2004. Under the new law, much power enjoyed by chiefs was transferred to the elected local councillors. While traditional chiefdom governance was blamed to be one of the institutional drivers of the civil war, this customary authority is highly respected and the reform was resisted by many local people. Nevertheless, the new system produces some positive development outcomes and the country has remained largely peaceful. Against this backdrop, this paper investigates the channels through which trust in a poorly trusted government body can be developed. Based on survey data from Sierra Leone, my statistical analysis examines three mechanisms through which political trust can be built: improved public services, clean administration, and responsive governance. It is found that local governments which are willing to listen and respond to their people are more likely to be trusted by the public.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Wong2014HowCP, title={How Can Political Trust Be Built after Civil Wars? Lessons from Post-Conflict Sierra Leone}, author={P Wong}, year={2014} }