The notion of “governance without government” has been used by students of international politics for illustrating that no government exists beyond the level of the nation-state which could exert authority on international regimes. This formula directed our view on global juridification as a mainly non-hierarchical form of governance that avoids the creation of a world state, but it has drawn off attention from the character of international regimes as systems of political rule in world society. The absence of a global state or state-like forms of international government beyond the territory of the European Union does not speak against the relevance of legitimacy for the evolution of social order in world society. Power and self-interest alone can hardly guarantee that social order can emerge or be maintained beyond the national level. Those governance systems which are based on the power of a state or state-coalitions can be kept alive in the longterm only if other grounds exist that convince world society of their usefulness and of the consideration of demands for equity and participation. The mode of legitimacy does not disqualify the use of power. But it implies that power can only play a productive role in world politics if its exercise can be legitimized by other grounds. Legitimacy does not conflict with the assumption that outcomes and impacts arising from global governance systems will have to fulfill the selfinterest of various actors in world society. However, it goes beyond a purely rationalist account of global governance. It considers that international institutions developed to systems of political rule where the willingness to follow policies is not only contingent on utilitarian considerations. National constituencies and transnational communities became increasingly aware of the evolution of new spheres of authority which affect their well-being. The protest against international institutions that was frequently raised in the transnational public sphere can not purely be understood as a rebellion against lacking opportunities for participation of emerging global civil society. These actors express the concerns of emerging global civil society and demand for regime policies to become more effective. The standards that are used for assessing the outcomes and impacts of policies and decision-making procedures on the domestic level of liberal states apply in a similar way to governance systems that exist beyond the nation-state.