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Creating a New Multilateralism: General Assembly Discourse, Legitimacy and Global Civil Society

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:07 authored by Lívia Pontes Fialho

International organizations (IOs) have gained greater authority in global affairs while the private sector and civil society movements play an increasingly central role in shaping policy and steering global governance mechanisms (Weiss and Wilkinson, 2014). The United Nation's (UN) mandate in particular has expanded to historic lengths, but the institution also faces a crisis of executive multilateralism (Steffek and Ferretti, 2009) where it must incur processes of legitimation to reassert its authority (Zaum, 2013, Weiss, 2011). The structure of international mechanisms and organizations are increasingly at odds with democratic principles esteemed in national contexts. To address these concerns, the UN has sought to further include global civil society in its deliberations to bolster legitimacy and make global policies more effective. This work contends that the need for greater representation and inclusion in global affairs has led the UN to develop a narrative relying in part on global civil society (GCS) to legitimate the organization. In a discourse analysis, the study focuses on the role of discourse and the narratives shaping the identity of global civil society at the General Assembly between 2004 and 2014. While UN officials and member-state representatives use GCS for legitimation, the very concept of global civil society and its role in contemporary world politics are transformed, having far-reaching effects on issues of representation and inclusion in global politics.



American University


Degree awarded: M.A. School of International Service. American University


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American University. School of International Service

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  • Masters

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