How should I study the legitimacy of an international organization s (IO) executive powers in a post-war peace-building context? There exists an extensive theoretical apparatus for understanding how and why states are legitimate actors and why they may legitimately direct their citizens (Beetham 1991; Beetham and Lord 1998; Clark 2005: 2007; Finnemore 2004; Matlary 2006). There exist, however, fewer works dealing with how or why rule by an IO might be legitimate (Finnemore 2004), and even fewer that look at how or why an IO might be legitimate in a peace-building context. Still, it seems that the most common answer is that the legitimacy of the Bonn Powers should be studied with a view to learning lessons from past experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia) for future peace-building efforts (Ashdown 2007; Bassuener 2005; Bildt 1998; Bose 2002; Caplan 2006; Chesterman 2004: 2005; Chandler 2000: 2006; Paris 2004; Zaum 2006).
A more critical view is to look at the consequences of the use of the Bonn Powers by the Office of High Representative/European Union Special Representative (OHR/EUSR) and to question whether these powers are justified from a human rights perspective (Knoll 2007; Venice Commission 2005) or whether the powers are accountable to the Bosnian people (Caplan 2006; Cousens 2001; ESI 2003: 2007; Ignatieff 2003; Knaus and Martin 2003; McCann 2007; Stewart 2006; Zaum 2006). Numerous critics have also voiced concern over the mistakes made by the international community (IC) in Bosnia in the early post-war period (Holbrooke 2003; McMahon 2005; 2007). In broad outline, in the literature on the legitimacy of the Bonn Powers, the voices are negative.
The controversy is over the lack of legitimacy that comes from the usage of the Bonn Powers by the OHR and the OHR/EUSR. The crux of the matter is the question whether the HR, politically responsible vis-à-vis the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and the IC, is also legally responsible to the Bosnian people (Marko 2004). This thesis takes a different approach to the study of the legitimacy. Here, the legitimacy of the Bonn Powers will be analyzed through a new theoretical approach to the study of legitimacy, powers and IOs; that is, the theory of legitimacy by Ian Hurd (2007). By utilising Hurd s theory my study can provide nuance to already existing theories of post-conflict peace building, by explaining legitimacy in theoretical terms and by applying this theory to the study of the Bonn Powers. Thus, I will question whether there has been a lack of legitimacy or not. I will show that legitimacy was and is central to the Bonn Powers of the OHR and the OHR/EUSR also to the Bosnian people. Most importantly, my analysis shows that we can use legitimacy to begin to explain phenomena that are hitherto unaccounted for in a peace-building context.