Contested Legitimating Agents: The Regional “Battle” for Legitimacy in Venezuela

Daniel F. Wajner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Practitioners, pundits, and scholars increasingly recognize the role that international organizations play in conflicts. Regional organizations (ROs), as brokers of collective security, welfare, and identity, have become particularly active agents during violent crises by granting legitimacy to certain protagonists and discrediting the legitimacy of others, thus affecting international policymaking. However, existing research generally assesses the legitimizing effects of ROs in either a static way, in which the stances of their member states do not change over time, or in an institutional vacuum, where ROs are not challenged by other ROs. This study aims to shed light on the impact of multiple ROs dynamically and simultaneously intervening in legitimation struggles. It focuses on the 2014–2020 regional “battle” over the legitimate authority of the Chavista–Madurista regime in Venezuela, examining how multiple Latin American ROs articulated their discourse seeking to influence the crisis’ outcomes. To this end, a multi-step process tracing based on four phases (opening, deliberation, judgment, and denouement) is applied. The findings reveal the lively competition between involved actors for the recognition of ROs as the relevant legitimating agents, and the limits faced in achieving collective action when polarization over such a regional legitimating role prevails. The study has novel implications for scholarly understanding of the role of legitimation dynamics in promoting international cooperation during periods of disruption.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberogae005
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) (2024). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association. All rights reserved.


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