The ability of governments and the global community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, ensure security, and promote adherence to basic standards of human rights depends on people’s trust in their government. However, public trust in government and political institutions has been declining in both developing and developed countries in the new millennium. One of the challenges in promoting trust in government is to engage citizens, especially the marginalized groups and the poor, into the policy process to ensure that governance is truly representative, participatory, and benefits all members of society. Where governance processes are exclusionary and basic services are not accessible, intrastate conflicts and violence within the country can negatively impact national and global security and peace. Weak systems and processes of governance tend to erode trust in government. Within this context, the issue of how to build trust in government and trust between socio-economic actors has emerged as an increasingly important issue in both developed and developing economies.
This book seeks to answer many of the questions raised in reference to means of strengthening trust in government within the Asia Pacific region. Through analyses of trends within North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Islands and specific innovations and reforms at the country level, the contributors have provided various perspectives on the causes of the decline in trust, countries and institutions that have managed to maintain higher degrees of confidence, and governance innovations and practices that have played an important role in strengthening trust once it has faltered.
G. Shabbir Cheema is Director, Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative (AGDI) and Senior Fellow, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. Vesselin Popovski is Senior Academic Programme Officer and Head of Section for Peace and Security in the Institute for Sustainability and Peace at the United Nations University, Tokyo.