Between Facts and Doubts: Epistemic Trust in International Organisations

The links bet­ween un­certainty, know­ledge and trust are cent­ral for most theoris­ing in Inter­national Re­lations (IR). Yet not only the lack but also the abun­dance of infor­mation can be a source of un­certain­ty.  This, in turn, ascribes a de­cisive role to those actors who turn infor­mation into know­ledge – such as epis­temic commu­nities or inter­national organi­sations. Both rely on trust in the pro­duction, pro­ducers, and pro­vision of know­ledge. This pro­ject brings to­gether re­search on trust and inter­national or­gani­sations in IR. Where­as trust re­search has mainly fo­cussed on bi­lateral and inter­personal re­lation­ships (mostly on security issues), or­ganisation re­search pre­supposes that the know­ledge of inter­national organi­sations will be trusted qua their ex­pertise. Linking both re­search areas, this pro­ject studies the pro­cesses, actors, and out­comes of infor­mation collection and know­ledge creation. This will help to better under­stand how and under which con­ditions know­ledge and ex­pertise by inter­national or­gani­sations are trusted, which is crucial for them to fulfil their role as brokers in global con­flicts. The project studies the role of trust and know­ledge in inter­national organi­sations across issue areas, including human rights, global health, arms control, and sustaina­bility. 

This project is part of the ConTrust initiative with Goethe University Frankfurt.

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Contested Facts: The Politics and Practice of International Fact-Finding Mission | 2023

Lesch, Max (2023): Contested Facts: The Politics and Practice of International Fact-Finding Mission, in: International Studies Review, 25:3, 1–27, DOI: 10.1093/isr/viad034.

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Devianz als Vermittlung zwischen Fakt und Norm | 2022

Lesch, Max (2022): Devianz als Vermittlung zwischen Fakt und Norm. Epistemische Praktiken und fact-finding internationaler Organisationen, in: Zeitschrift diskurs, 2022:8, 12–26,

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