Re-defining legitimacy : international law, multilateral institutions and the problem of socio-cultural fragmentation within established African states


University of British Columbia

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Doctor of Philosophy - PhD




This thesis has been pre-occupied with four major interconnected projects. The first of these was a search for an understanding of the nature of the crisis of structural legitimacy that currently afflicts the fragmented post-colonial African state, an enquiry that examines the nature of the very phenomena that the law has sought to regulate. The second was to understand the nature, and social effects, of the various doctrinal attitudes historically exhibited by international law and institutions toward the phenomenon of "socio-cultural fragmentation within established states". In this respect, I have sought to understand the ways in which certain doctrines of international law and institutions have provided powerful arguments, justifications or excuses for those states that have deemed it necessary to attempt to forge coercively, both a sense of common citizenship, and an ethos of national coherence, among their various component sub-state groups. The third was to chart the ongoing normative and factual transformation of the traditional approaches that international law and institutions have adopted toward that problem, and thereby map the extent to which these institutions have taken advantage of such innovations, enabling them to actually contribute to the effort to prevent and/or reduce the incidence of internecine strife in specific African contexts. And the last was to recommend a way forward that is guided by the conclusions of the thesis: a way in which these institution-driven transformations can be encouraged and consolidated in the specific context of African states. For purposes of brevity and the imperative need for focus, these enquiries have been conducted in the specific but somewhat allegorical context of Africa. It is hoped, however, that even this largely Africa-specific analysis has contributed to the advancement of knowledge regarding the general question of the relationship among the doctrines of international law, the activities of multilateral institutions, and the management of the problems of socio-cultural fragmentation and internecine strife within established states.


International law -- Africa; Political stability -- Africa; Legitimacy of governments -- Africa; African cooperation

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