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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The state was long seen as the only institution able to govern legitimately. The empirical limitations of statehood in many parts of the world, as well as the normative ambivalences inherent to statehood, however, have led to a renewed interest in the legitimacy of non-state governance. A prominent approach holds that non-state governance is legitimate if and to the extent that it contributes to normatively desirable outcomes, such as an increase in security. This chapter argues that this approach faces four problems that severely limited the scope of legitimate governance by non-state actors in areas of limited statehood. They concern the definition of goods, the inclusiveness of governance services, the accountability of non-state actors, and the reliable assignment of responsibilities. We contend that these problems highlight the need for public institutions and explore whether and how non-state actors can assume public roles under conditions of limited statehood.

Keywords: legitimacy, authority, state-building, non-state actors, human rights, accountability, statehood

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