Trust and Distrust in the Resolution of Protracted Social Conflict: The Case of Colombia

Anastasia Filippidou, Thomas Anthony O'Brien

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Distrust is an active process that can undermine attempts to find a sustainable resolution to protracted social conflict. In such situations, thick (internal) trust within groups works against formation of thin (social) trust necessary to resolve conflict. Recognising the dynamic character of trust and distrust can provide opportunities to create mechanisms to bridge divides through the creation of institutions to guarantee agreements, drawing on thick trust to bind participants. This paper examines the negotiation of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC in 2016. The aims of the paper are to (1) identify the form and extent of trust and distrust between parties, and (2) determine how distrust was managed in negotiating the peace agreement. The findings point to the ability of elite actors to develop thin trust through repeated formal interactions and in turn use thick trust to bind followers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalBehavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2020

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© 2020 Society for Terrorism Research. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Colombia
  • Trust
  • Distrust
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Identity

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