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Legitimating International Organizations$
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Dominik Zaum

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672097

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672097.001.0001

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Legitimacy and International Organizations: The Changing Ethical Context

Legitimacy and International Organizations: The Changing Ethical Context

(p.26) 2 Legitimacy and International Organizations: The Changing Ethical Context
Legitimating International Organizations

Mervyn Frost

Oxford University Press

The chapter examines the changing international ethical context within which international organisations pursue their legitimation practices. It argues, first, that legitimacy questions arise for international organisations for even though many of them were established by states as functional mechanisms to instrumentally address cooperation problems (thus constituting ‘enterprise associations’, in Michael Oakeshott’s words), many have evolved into something more complex that elicits compliance from states not only for instrumental, but also for ethical reasons. Second, it suggests that all international organisations are embedded into two global practices: global civil society, and the society of sovereign states, and their legitimacy depends on coherence with the values embedded in them. For these reasons, legitimacy questions have become a pertinent issue for many international organisations, arising in particular when the ethical reasons for accepting an institution’s authority have become contentious, for example in times of rapid social change.

Keywords:   international organisations, legitimacy, legitimation, global civil society, society of sovereign states, norms, social change, global shocks

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