International Law and the Legitimacy of Interim Governments

20 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2016 Last revised: 16 Mar 2016

Date Written: January 14, 2016


This paper addresses the role of international law in political communication in the practice of interim governance. It seeks to develop a clearer understanding of the value of membership of an international human rights treaty regime for assessments of the legitimacy of interim governance arrangements. The paper has a particular focus on the case of Afghanistan. It has three main parts. The first part considers the way in which assessments of the legitimacy of interim governments are structured (it argues for legitimacy of promises to be added to the established two part schema of origin and exercise). The second part examines key considerations relevant for the extent to which political communication rights exert constraint on the discretion of interim governments. The third part examines three modalities by which the strength of political communication rights as a source of constraint might be strengthened: UN SC resolution, peace agreement, and aid agreement. A key argument is that membership of an international human rights regime with political communication rights is a reason to take more seriously the promises of interim governments to pursue democracy, as it provides a platform for international scrutiny of the efforts that are made to move towards democratic governance. However, it is further contended that in practice the law appears to be too easily overlooked by both interim governments and the international actors that keep them in authority.

Keywords: International Law, Interim Government, Legitimacy, Self-Determination, Democracy, Political Communication, Freedom of Expression, Afghanistan

Suggested Citation

Saul, Matthew, International Law and the Legitimacy of Interim Governments (January 14, 2016). European Society of International Law (ESIL) 2015 Research Forum (Florence); PluriCourts Research Paper No. 16-01. Available at SSRN: or

Matthew Saul (Contact Author)

Pluricourts ( email )

P.O. Box 6706
St. Olavs plass 5
0130 Oslo

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