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The Eroding Legitimacy of Security Institutions in West Africa

Full title

The Eroding Legitimacy of Security Institutions in West Africa

Project description

What makes security institutions legitimate? This question is at the heart of different governance challenges, from police-citizen interaction in Paris or Portland, to the emergence of political orders in (post) conflict settings, or the increasing prominence of non-state security providers. Given transformations in security institutions and their capabilities on the one hand and an increasing trend toward collaboration with and between security institutions as a tool of foreign and security policy on the other, the question of security institution legitimacy is increasingly becoming a governance challenge around the globe.

This project aims to tackle this fundamental conceptual and empirical challenge. How do security institutions gain and lose legitimacy? Can the legitimacy of security institutions be promoted from below or by outside actors? What are empirical, legal, or normative models of legitimate security provision beyond the state?

ELSI will establish a broad network of scholars and practitioners with an interest in these questions, at Leiden University and beyond. Our first step is a launching workshop in the first half of 2021, through which we will develop an interdisciplinary perspective on the fundamental challenge of legitimate security institutions. Based on these discussions, we aim to publish an edited volume bringing together core conceptual contributions and case studies. We also plan to work on a larger grant application to be able to continue the project beyond 2021.

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