Reinforcing the Legitimacy of the State following a Conflict: Assessing the Institution-building - Legitimacy Paradox

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Dagher, Ruby




The end of conflict is believed to represent a critical juncture when new and better processes and systems can be introduced. The building of post-conflict state institutions is considered as the main means through which the state can gain legitimacy. The academic and soft literature brims with suggestions on how a state could earn its legitimacy and build a more prosperous and advanced society. These suggestions often follow the following logic: Improving state institutions leads to improved governance, which in turn leads to improved process legitimacy and thus development.

However, as my research results demonstrate, the state institution-building process introduces complications to this presumed causal pathway. Not only does performance legitimacy, the legitimacy earned through the delivery of basic goods and services, have an impact on the kind of state-society relationship that develops, but also on the outcomes of state institution-building processes. It does so through its significant impact on the relationship between the leaders and the state and on the leaders’ intentions and motivations vis-à-vis the state’s institutions. Unfortunately, the current theories and their frameworks seem to ignore the impact of performance legitimacy on state institution-building and public policy processes. I argue that it is only by understanding the local context and the manner in which performance legitimacy influences the actions of leaders that one can better understand whether state legitimacy-enhancing measures have led to increased or decreased levels of state legitimacy. Moreover, it is only by better understanding the role of performance legitimacy that a system can be built that limits the ability of leaders to abuse state resources and usurp the state’s legitimacy.

Overall, this dissertation offers an innovative and alternative approach that assess the institutional, social, and historical factors that have a significant influence on the building of the legitimacy of post-conflict states. It builds a framework that accounts for performance legitimacy and the distinction between the legitimacy of leaders and that of the state. It is hoped that with the new framework and the questions that it raises, post-conflict development processes can be improved to become more effective in establishing successful systems and development trajectories.


Political Science
Political Science
International Law and Relations




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Public Policy

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Theses and Dissertations

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