Legitimacy, across borders and over time

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter addresses the question of international legitimacy at the general level and argues that although legitimacy has been an issue of importance at the international level over time, it has become all the more so in recent decades. The chapter proceeds in two parts. First, it analyzes the notion of legitimacy in general and stresses why legitimacy has had more significance nationally than internationally. Second, it describes cases that illustrate how throughout history, questions of legitimacy have always had relevance at the international level. Political Legitimacy, National and International Let us start with a brief discussion of political legitimacy and why it has always been more important on the national than on the international plane. Defining Political Legitimacy. In the political context, legitimacy is defined as the governed recognizing the right of the governors to lead and, to a certain extent, their entitlement to the perks of power. It is a process through which both political power and obedience are justified. Yet, it is not as if the recognition of the right to govern is without constraints on those who govern. Three conditions must be met for the acknowledgment, or the justification, of the right to govern to take place. First, those in power must deliver services to the governed. These services may vary from one society to another and from one period to another, but the benefits that result for the governed comprise a requirement that cannot be overlooked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFault Lines of International Legitimacy
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780511691614
ISBN (Print)9780521764469
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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