This article aims to contribute to the third generation of global governance research by unfolding the concept of a global governance system consisting of normative principles and patterns of authority relationships and legitimation. The goal is to formulate a positive theory that goes beyond the negative descriptions of global governance as post-internationalist and helps to move global governance beyond its embryonic state. The major theoretical claim is that the features of the current global governance system have endogenously produced the politicization and counter-institutionalization of international authorities. Internal tensions of the system fuel legitimation problems and demands for change, which in the end lead – in some cases – to the decline of global governance arrangements or – in other cases – to its deepening via appropriate institutional responses.
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