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The Evolution and Legitimacy of International Security Institutions


The Evolution and Legitimacy of International Security Institutions



International institutions constitute the basis of global order. As they struggle to accommodate shifts in power and emerging threats, their legitimacy - their political authority and right to govern - often comes under fire, at times fuelling perceptions of crisis. Yet scholars seldom ask why some institutions are replaced while others are not. Blending theory with history, M. Patrick Cottrell examines some of the world's landmark security institutions, arguing that the possibility of replacement hinges on the sources of institutional legitimacy and the nature and timing of the challenges to it. The analysis not only reveals different pathways to replacement, but also offers a window into the future, including a potential dark side of too much legitimacy. Indeed, as global society becomes ever more dynamic, the fault lines of conflict with the most significant implications for order will not occur over territory, but rather over the legitimacy of international institutions.



Publication Date



Cambridge University Press


New York, NY


Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Political Science | Political Theory


Description courtesy of Cambridge University Press; cover image courtesy of Amazon.

Subject Areas

Security, International; International cooperation

Author/Editor Bio

Patrick Cottrell is Associate Professor of Political Science at Linfield College. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in International Economics and U.S. Foreign Policy from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of California-Davis.

The Evolution and Legitimacy of International Security Institutions