Reclaiming the Legitimacy Discourse

Opening the Space for a Critical Understanding of Legitimacy. A CIPS Event
Wednesday, 30 March 2022 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Off-campus address: 
Contact information
Contact person: 
Anna Bogic
Registration required: 
Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
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Presented by CIPS and the Fragile States Research Network (FSRN)

Our understanding of legitimacy, especially state legitimacy, is anchored in the experience of Western democratic countries and the functioning of the Weberian-inspired states. The tools that we use to assess and measure legitimacy are also informed by the Western understanding of what legitimacy is and how it is manifested. Given that Western-style state systems are not the norm in the rest of the world, this exclusionary and uncompromising understanding of legitimacy along with strong desires to see a transition to Western-inspired liberal democracies around the world has left very little space for the critical and non-Western informed understanding and assessment of legitimacy. In her book, Reconstructing our Understanding of State Legitimacy in Post-conflict States, Ruby Dagher provides a critical discussion around our understanding and measurement of legitimacy and its implications for countries experiencing conflict or are moving out of conflict. In doing so, she makes the case for the need to develop and use new legitimacy indicators when assessing legitimacy in non-Western countries that have experienced or are experiencing conflict, indicators that are less informed by the Western experience of legitimacy and more informed by people’s needs, desires, experiences, and perceptions.


Dr. Ruby Dagher, Replacement Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, a researcher, and a consultant. She has a PhD in Public Policy and Administration with research focused on issues related to conflict, legitimacy, development studies, evaluation, gender equality, as well as bias, diversity, and racism.


Dr. Christoph Zuercher, Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa.