Transparency and Trust in International Relations

Panel Code

Global governance faces a series of crises for which no immediate solution is apparent. The legitimacy of international society is in question as the institutions, norms and practices of an American-dominated order appear ineffective in the face of the increasingly complex global challenges. In response, transparency promotion and trust-building have featured prominently in attempts to find sustainable solutions to these crises. Both are designed to solve problems of uncertainty and risk that characterize the division and delegation of political authority necessary to deal with global problems. The former relies largely on information-centric epistemic solutions; the latter, while also grounded in information-gathering and assessment, tends to emphasize building stronger psychological and affective social relations as central to generating stability.
Transparency and trust focus upon a shared set of political problems which represent a core problematic of international relations, offering distinct solutions to the dilemmas this problematic generates. We have currently few answers to which approach to problems of uncertainty is more plausible in different conditions: are specific institutions better than others at creating the conditions for transparency promotion and trust-building? Is either trust-building or transparency promotion more effective in specific contexts? Which approach to problems of legitimacy in global governance is most appropriate for global publics? What is the relationship between accountability and trust in global governance institutions? Despite this, there has been only limited theoretical and practical discussion of the relationship between transparency and trust – as concepts or as political practices – within the discipline.
This panel will address these conceptual and empirical questions in order to develop International Relations scholarship in this area. Both transparency and trust promise greater stability, order, and justice in global politics. Working out the potentials of these practices is thus a pressing task for the field.