Sarah von Billerbeck, Birte Julia Gippert | 2017

Introduction – Legitimacy in Conflict: Concepts, Practices, Challenges

in: Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 11:3 (Special Issue), 273-285.

The study of legitimacy in situations of conflict and peacebuilding has increased in recent years. However, current work on the topic adopts many assumptions, definitions, and understandings from classical legitimacy theory, which centers on the relationship between the nation-state and its citizens. In this introduction, we provide a detailed critical overview of current theories of legitimacy and legitimation and demonstrate why they have only limited applicability in conflict and post-conflict contexts, focusing on the three main areas that the articles included in this special issue examine: audiences for legitimacy, sources of legitimacy, and legitimation.

In particular, we show how conflict and post-conflict contexts are marked by the fragmentation and personalization of power; the proliferation and fragmentation of legitimacy audiences; and ambiguity surrounding legitimation strategies.

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