The purpose of this research program is to offer the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of legitimacy in global governance. To what extent are global governance institutions (GGIs) regarded as legitimate? What explains that legitimacy? By what processes are GGIs legitimated and delegitimated? What are the consequences of legitimacy (or its absence) for the functioning of GGIs? How are these legitimacy dynamics in global governance similar to or different from the dynamics of legitimacy in the nation-state and other forms of governance?

While legitimacy in global governance has generated growing interest in recent years, it has not yet been researched methodically by a coordinated team of specialists. We address the overarching question of why, how, and with what consequences GGIs gain, sustain and lose legitimacy by exploring three principal themes: (1) sources of legitimacy, (2) legitimation and delegitimation strategies, and (3) consequences of legitimacy. In the broadest sense, the program considers what systematic attention to legitimacy can tell us about world politics, and what experiences from world politics suggest for understanding legitimacy in contemporary politics generally.