The quest for regional legitimation: Analyzing the Arab League’s legitimizing role in the Arab spring

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The topic of international legitimacy has returned to centre stage during the Arab Spring, in which the Arab League has apparently assumed a prominent legitimation role. Although some scholarship has studied how international organizations are decisive in legitimizing actors and their actions during conflicts, relatively scant attention has been focused at constructing a comprehensive analytical framework for this kind of assessment that could be also applied to regional organizations (ROs). This paper proposes that when actors are involved in battles over international legitimation, analysing their access to the socially identified brokers of three legitimation functions (appropriateness, consensus, and empathy) is key to assess their success. Particularly, we argue that relevant identity-based ROs may have a crucial legitimizing role by operating as brokers of regional consensus. For this purpose, two case studies–Bahrain and Libya–illustrate how the Arab League’s brokerage influenced the legitimation of the actors involved and their outcomes. The findings suggest novel implications about the decisive legitimizing impact of regionalism on conflict resolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)489-521
Number of pages33
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 8 Aug 2018


  • Arab league
  • Arab spring
  • Regional organizations
  • comparative regionalism
  • conflict resolution
  • international legitimacy
  • legitimation brokers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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