Non-state and nation-state actors

Both non-state and nation-state actors participate in international relations. Both of them also cause change and have influence on various international relations issues. However, nation-state actors are different in various aspects. First, nation-state actors have an established state institution while non-state actors do not have a sate an established state institution. Nation-state actors include government institutions such as ministries and public schools and their leaders.[1] On the other hand, non-state actors include nongovernmental institutions such as Red Cross and for-profit multinational corporations such as Apple, Google, Wal-Mart and Tesco which operate in various foreign countries of the world. Violent or terrorism groups such as Al-Qaeda and criminal groups such as drug traffickers are also categorized as non-state actors.

Nation states have exclusive authority to use state as a means of national unity in social, economic, and cultural life. For example, a nation state can use taxes paid by citizens to distribute income among the citizens and create economic unity. The state may also be used to provide social amenities such as healthcare and education as a way of enhancing national unity. Furthermore, creation of a common infrastructure is also a responsibility of the government which ensures that national unity is upheld.

Non state actors use private resources to augment the actions of nation states in international relations. As opposed to nation states, non state actors do not use state resources. Non-state actors provide opinions on various international affairs. For instance, the civil society uses its diversity to gather opinions of various members of the society regarding various factors affecting them in the society.[2] Economic and social partners such as trade unions and the private sector use their resources to come up with policies that govern international relations.

Nation states also suggest that states are the primary and only significant actors in politics of the world. They use the state as the key political tool to shape the world. On the other hand, non-state actors do not rely on the state for political strength. According to them, politics is practiced by anyone including those who do not belong to the state. Non-state actors do not build their political power from the state but from non-governmental and multinational corporations which use free markets to regulate their politics.

Nation states also consider states as rational and unitary; acting independently to promote their own political, economic and social power. On the other hand, non-state actors believe that the state is not a rational and unitary actor. Instead, institutions that do not belong to any established state institution such as multinational corporations also act as good players of international relations. For instance, multinational corporations operate in many sovereign states of the world; hence they also act alongside states to promote international relations.

There is also a difference between non-state actors and nation states which relates to their roles. The role of non-state actors is to act as implementation partners and to provide opinions in international affairs.[3]  On the other hand, the role of nation states is to provide national unity through the state. For instance, non-state actors may contribute to protection of human rights by using the civil society actions such as demonstrations, strikes and court cases. On the other hand, nation states contribute to protection of human rights by using state resources such as army personnel to fight those who are going against human rights.

Both non-state actors and nation states also provide peace building in the world, but they do so in different ways. Non-state actors use NGOs such as International Campaign to Burn Landmines (ICDBL) to fight for peace among and within states. On the other hand, nation states use state resources to fight crimes and terrorisms that lead to lack of peace.

Another difference between non-state actors and nation states is that nation states seek power while non-state actors do not. In this case, the state uses military power both as a means and an end. It seeks to extend its boundaries, economic and political power over other states of the world.[4] On the other hand, non-state actors do not prioritize power in their agenda. Instead, they seek more economic prosperity for the society at large and better international relations among various states of the world.

Nation states also act within the control of states while non-state actors operate without state control. For instance, armed non-state actors participate in internal and external border conflicts without control of the state. On the other hand, military agents of the nation states only participate in transnational conflicts with the authority of the state. The approach to management and resolution of conflicts therefore differ between non state actors nation states. While nation states involve the state in conflict management and resolutions, non-state actors only partner with various institutions to participate in conflict management and resolutions without the influence of the state. In terms of state control, it is also clear that non-state actors do not control state resources while nation states have a full control of state resources.

Traditional and non-traditional threats to national security

The Intelligence Community should had to adapt with the end of cold war and emergences of non-traditional threats to national security threats because the threats have changed over time from traditional to non-traditional security threats. There are various differences and similarities between traditional and non-traditional security threats which lead the Intelligence Community to adopt various measures in dealing with the threats of national security threats in the society.

In the traditional security model, the state was considered as the referent object of security. This was seen in the cold war when states used to protect their territories from other states. The premise of this traditional approach to security was that if the security of the state is achieved, the citizens will also be secure. On the other hand, non-traditional approach includes human security in which the safety of people and communities within a state are considered.[5] Non-traditional threats of security include terrorisms which affect the world in general and not a state in particular. In this approach, the security of one state leads to the security of another state. Therefore, it is important to eliminate security threats of other states in order to keep another state secure. The intelligence community should therefore stop concentrating in the security of the state as suggested by traditional approaches and react to international security threats in order to secure other states as a way of protecting our own state.

Traditional security approach considered states as rational entities with national interests and policy that were guided by the need for absolute power. It also viewed security as a way of protecting the state from invasion which were propagated through conflicts and heightened by military and technical capabilities of states.

As the cold war came to an end, traditional views on security changed. The security of the state no longer played a central role in the way states viewed security issues. Instead, it became clear that the hardships resulting from internal state activities and external aggressors threatened the security of citizens. Civil wars erupted, compounding the existing problems of violence, hunger, human rights abuses, diseases and poverty. These basic needs had been completely neglected due to the influence of the traditional security policies. By neglecting these basic needs of its constituents, the state failed to achieve its security objectives.

Non-traditional security approaches now seeks to meet the needs of each individual constituent of the state, including basic human rights and diseases. Intelligence Community should therefore view the threats of security in terms of security of citizens in all aspects. There are various non-traditional security models that attempt to challenge the traditional approaches to security. For instance; comprehensive, collective and cooperative measures can be used to enhance security if individuals; hence ensuring security of the state as well.

In non-traditional approach to security threats, there is need for international security to protect individuals and states from various threats to security. Some of the security threats perceived by the non-traditional approach include organized crime and terrorism.[6] These threats can be eliminated through transnational policing enhanced by increased international cooperation rather than efforts of individual states protecting their own territories.

Traditional approaches to threats of security seek to protect the integrity of the state while non-traditional approaches tend to protect the integrity of the individual. This approach can be seen in terms of human security. Human security is a non-traditional approach that challenges the state-based approach to security threats. It suggests that the individual is a referent object for security as opposed to traditional approach in which the state is the referent object.

The traditional view of security threats is no longer important because the world has become globalised, interconnected and interdependent; and other threats like terrorism, environmental degradation and poverty have become more significant that the traditional inter-state security threats and warfare.[7] In general, some examples of threats in traditional approach include: nuclear proliferation, interstate war, civil conflict and revolution. The examples of non-traditional threats to security include: natural disaster, terrorism, disease, human rights abuses, poverty, landmines and violence.

During the cold war, traditional security involved a military build-up between the Soviet Union and USA which were the superpowers at that time. The similarity between this traditional security approach and the non-traditional approach is that in both cases the sovereignty of the state is taken seriously by each state. Another similarity is that the fight against security threats is aimed at securing the state and its citizens; the intention is the same between the two approaches, although the method is different. The instruments are also the same in some cases. For instance, the same weapons are used in terrorism of non-traditional approach and interstate wars of traditional approach.

[1] Kohli, Atul, State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global Periphery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

[2] Melman, Billie, “Claiming the Nation’s Past: The Invention of an Anglo-Saxon Tradition”. Journal of Contemporary History, vol.26, No. 4 (1991): 575–595.

[3] White, Philip L, “Globalization and the Mythology of the Nation State,” In A.G.Hopkins, ed. Global History: Interactions between the Universal and the Local (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

[4] Chickering, Lawrence A., et al, Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2006).

[5] Melman, Billie, “Claiming the Nation’s Past: The Invention of an Anglo-Saxon Tradition”. Journal of Contemporary History, vol.26, No. 4 (1991): 575–595.

[6] Kohli, Atul, State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global       Periphery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

[7] White, Philip L, “Globalization and the Mythology of the Nation State,” In A.G.Hopkins, ed.     Global History: Interactions between the Universal and the Local (New York: Palgrave     Macmillan, 2006)

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