This paper explores the meaning of legitimacy in relation to state and armed non-state actors.
It examines the dominant meanings of legitimacy used in international development and analyses how these have emerged. It also identifies and uses alternative conceptualisations of legitimacy to interpret the evidence on the relationship between legitimacy and service delivery, institutions, international interventions, social media and religion/ideology.
Finally, it discusses approaches used by donors to either increase state legitimacy or to measure the legitimacy of an intervention. It analyses current tools used by donors for their relevance to understanding legitimacy, and also assesses the relevance of new tools and methodologies designed specifically to analyse and measure legitimacy.