Legitimate Multipolarity

Dr. Johannes Plagemann
2018 - 2021
German Research Foundation (DFG)

P. K. Gautam, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), India

Prof. Yaqing Qin, China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Beijing



Research Questions

What are the legitimacy deficits of the WTO, AIIB, and G20 in terms of their rightful source of authority, performance, and articulations of dissent by member countries as evidenced in relevant public discourses? (RQ1)

In how far do contemporary foreign policy discourses in China and India reflect upon and provide ideational resources for the resolution of legitimacy problems in global governance under conditions of multipolarity? (RQ2)

Contribution to International Research

Global governance institutions work differently under conditions of multipolarity. In a first, step Legitimate Multipolarity investigates the legitimacy deficits of global governance institutions under conditions of multipolarity. In a second step, the project analyses possible solutions to such problems put forward in rising powers’ foreign policy discourses.

Research Design and Methods

Legitimate Multipolarity adopts an empirical, not normative, approach to the study of legitimacy. From that perspective, legitimacy deficits of global governance institutions under conditions of multipolarity arise from members’ doubts about the rightful sources of authority, poor performance, and articulations of dissent. The project’s first work package (WP1) is composed of three case studies of individual global governance institutions – the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Group of Twenty (G20), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – which together comprise key elements of our understanding of multipolarity. For each institution we outline legitimacy deficits as evidenced in relevant public discourses. We consider discourses within rising and established powers and developing countries as well as discourses at the trans- and international level. The second work package (WP2) critically examines potential solutions to legitimacy problems put forward from within the two most prominent rising powers, China and India. It does so by systematically analysing ideas expressed in foreign policies or emanating from discourses (2008-2016) within China and India.