State Legitimacy

This brief offers a concise introduction to the core elements of the concept of state legitimacy. It addresses four questions: How is the concept of legitimacy best understood? Why is it important? How do states accrue legitimacy? And what policy implications follow from this?
 
States are legitimate when citizens accept their right to rule over them. But legitimacy is also a political process of bringing order to social relations, and political actors are often central to it.
 
Legitimacy matters because without it there is likely to be conflict and disorder. All states need a degree of legitimacy to govern effectively.
 
Understanding when citizens are likely to confer or withdraw legitimacy requires investigating social norms. The depth and durability of a state’s legitimacy has direct effects on the feasibility of development processes, and on the effectiveness of external efforts to support them.

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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News

New article - To Boldly Know: Knowledge, Peacekeeping and Remote Data Gathering in Conflict-Affected States

Thursday 12th October 2017

In this article in the Journal of International Peacekeeping, DLP researcher Suda Perera critically evaluates crowdsourcing's uses and abuses, and warns against an over-reliance on remotely gathered conflict data.

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Why political settlements matter

Thursday 5th October 2017

Join us on 5 Oct 2017 at ODI (10-11:30am) to discuss the research featured in a special issue of The Journal of International Development co-edited by Alina Rocha Menocal (DLP and ODI) and Jan Pospisil (Political Settlements Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh).

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