United Nations Transitional Administrations: Creating Legitimate Government
Hooff, S. van
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The main question this research seeks to address is how the UN has tried to create legitimate governments in territories they administered, specifically in East Timor (UNTAET) and Kosovo (UNMIK). In short, this means that the instrument of transitional administration has been analyzed critically in view of the goal of creating legitimate government. This was to contribute to a major debate on interventions and statebuilding. By offering an innovative approach, it is shown (once more) that the international community should rid itself of the ‘global governance norm’ to intervene into (post-conflict) countries with the goal of building democracies and stable governments. This does not produce desired results. In the first chapter, the problem is conceptualized. Literature on the topic is reviewed and current debates analyzed. At the same time, the research question and innovative approach of this research is highlighted in view of the current academic discussion on interventions and statebuilding. In the second chapter the concept of legitimacy is analyzed meticulously, thereby making it the theoretical core of this thesis. Past and current templates for statebuilding are too much rooted in a Western (Weberian) rational-legal conception of legitimacy, thereby focusing on elections, good and/or effective government, and economic growth. However, it is found that legitimacy has contextualized validity, meaning that it is subject to space and time. In other words, a legitimate relation of power, of domination, is legitimate because of the values and norms underpinning it. Rules in society are accepted because they can be justified on shared beliefs. In addition, analysis and reconsideration of state formation showed that for rule to become legitimate, interaction between ruler and ruled is crucial. The constituency, the ruled, need to have some sort of ownership of the created structures of power. They need to vest their interest into those structures in order to participate and uphold them. Hence, several authors point to the mutual transformative relationship and interaction between state and society, between the central and the local level, forces top-down and bottom-up. It was thus concluded that creating political legitimacy, or rather legitimate government, was an exchange process between ruler and ruled, taking into account context, that is, historical and cultural factors, and people’s interests. In the third and fourth chapter, there is description and analysis of the activities of the UN in East Timor and Kosovo respectively. Here, the most remarkable finding is the top-down nature of implementing the new governmental structures by the UN, without agency of the people in those countries, meaning without significant local participation. Equally, both administrations favored a Western rational-legal governmental structure. In fact, democracy was implemented with elections as the main legitimizing principle, thereby neglecting existing structures of governance, power-sharing, and local values and norms. In the fifth and final chapter, it is concluded that those newly created governments in East Timor and Kosovo are not legitimate, since the values and norms underpinning them have failed to take root. The principles that should legitimize the new power structures are absent. Equally, the constituencies were often mere bystanders, indicating severe deficiency of interaction between ruler and ruled. As a result, those people have not invested in these new governmental structures, and thus have no interest in upholding or participating in them. The analysis presented in this thesis shows that temporarily acting as government, the instrument of transitional administration, does not create legitimate government. This fundamental contradiction cannot be resolved.