(Re)gaining citizens’ trust is a challenge for post-war governments. Political trust is crucial for understanding both the risk of civil war in the first place and the state-society relationships that emerge afterwards.
Peace agreements are tools to stop the fighting, address war’s injustices, and provide a blueprint for the state’s future – and they do so to varying degrees. Yet we have little systematic knowledge of how people react to such agreements and with what consequences. We argue that in post-war societies, people’s perceptions of the strategies aimed at ending the violence and (re)building the state have an enduring impact on people’s view of the state. In this study, we examine the association between post-conflict political trust and people’s approval of peace agreements analyzing a set of nationally representative, comparative surveys from Guatemala, Nepal, and Northern Ireland, three cases where long civil wars were ended by peace agreements. We find that individuals’ approval of the agreement and the perception that it has been implemented are positively associated with political trust, and that accounting for views of the peace agreement substantially improve on conventional explanations for political trust.