Recognitional Legitimacy

Allen Buchanan

in Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780198295358
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600982 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Recognitional Legitimacy

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Ch. 5 outlined an argument for a justice‐based general conception of what might be called internal political legitimacy: the conditions under which the exercise of political power within a political entity's own borders is morally justified. This conception of internal political legitimacy is used in Ch. 6 as a component of an account of recognitional legitimacy (also called international legitimacy). The concept of recognitional legitimacy plays a central role in international legal institutions and international affairs, where states, governments, and insurgency movements may all be recognized or not recognized as legitimate by individual states, groups of states, or regional or international organizations. The primary focus of this chapter is recognitional legitimacy as applied to states—i.e. on the judgement that a particular entity should or should not be recognized as a member in good standing of the system of states, with all the rights, powers, liberties, and immunities that go with that status; the guiding idea of the approach is that recognition is an act with serious moral implications and, as such, ought to be governed by rules that are themselves morally justifiable. The three sections of the chapter are: The Concept of Recognitional Legitimacy; II. Justifying the Justice‐Based Theory of Recognitional Legitimacy; and III. Legitimacy of States Versus Legitimacy of Governments.

Keywords: governments; international affairs; international legal institutions; justice; legitimacy; moral justification; political legitimacy; political power; recognitional legitimacy; states

Chapter.  10574 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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