News from Mar 21, 2017
The aim of this research report is to examine the empirical literature on the connection between the legitimacy of governance actors and conflict prevention. As the leading hypothesis for this research report, we take it that legitimate governance actors and legitimate institutions are indispensable in the prevention of conflict. We proceed with our examination of this hypothesis in two steps. First, we clarify the conceptual connection between legitimacy and conflict prevention. We suggest that governance actors should concentrate less on stability and more on legitimacy because legitimate actors and institutions produce stability for the right reasons. Second, we discuss the practical implications of these considerations. Our findings are relevant both for narrow, project-based external policy initiatives in the field of conflict prevention and for more general governance interventions. In both cases, policies can focus on two dimensions. First, improving governance performance will include adjusting external policies to fit local legitimacy perceptions. The second dimension is the transformation of predominant perceptions of legitimacy. We argue that while the second strategy might not be impossible, it is not a viable strategy for external actors. In fact, we believe that the focus on this second dimension explains many of the unsuccessful attempts at governance provision by external actors.
Working Paper 72 is freely available in print and as a PDF download on our website.