The lessons learned project is delighted to today publish a new working paper, Dimensions of Legitimacy: Evaluating the Contact Group, by Professor William Smith an Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
This paper explores the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia from the perspective of its claims to legitimacy. Legitimacy is associated with those properties of an organization that render it an authoritative source of rules, decisions, or recommendations. The paper explores the following three questions: (1) Is the concept of legitimacy relevant to the Contact Group? (2) Which properties should we look at to measure its legitimacy? (3) Are any reforms necessary to enhance its claims to legitimacy?
The paper concludes that the Contact Group has significant achievements as a governance body, but identifies several shortcomings that should be addressed to enhance its legitimacy claims. In particular, the paper delineates three core areas where the Contact Group could enhance its legitimacy:
1) Stakeholder Participation: Despite achieving broad-based stakeholder inclusion, the paper asks if more could be done to level the playing-field, in terms of influence and resources, between actors. One suggestion is that the Trust Fund could be used to enhance participation and inclusivity for ‘resource-challenged countries’
2) Comparative Benefit: While the paper acknowledges that the Contact Group has won the wide-spread acceptance of many stakeholders and related agencies, it nevertheless asks whether more could be done to allay the fears of some critics that its focus on containment has redirected attention and resources away from the task of prevention?
3) Deliberative reflection: The Contact Group has an impressive range of achievements, but can it do more to engage with external critics with a view to refining its methods and improving its performance? In particular, it could work more closely with certain civil society groups, policy-makers, or academics, through inviting greater scrutiny and reflection on Contact Group activities.
The full paper is available via the following link: Dimensions of Legitimacy: Evaluating the Contact Group