Non-State Actors in the International System: Challenges and Opportunities

Increasingly, non-state actors are engaging in what are traditionally state-centric domains e.g., peace and security, infrastructure, energy security/natural resources, governance etc. Encompassing a wide range of entities – such as MNCs, TNCs, IGOs, NGOs, private military companies (PMCs), diasporas, civil societies, terrorist organisations, cyber ‘hacktivists’, religious actors, and ethnic groups – non-state actors are challenging conceptions of sovereignty, security, intervention, deterrence, norm-building, and nationalism in myriad and complex ways.

In the absence of international legally binding instruments, governments are facing crucial questions on how to engage with and regulate the use and operations of non-state entities. However, non- state actors can also be harnessed in domains where state-centric approaches have traditionally failed, such as the global climate agenda. Civil society, corporations, financial institutions, and sub- national governments have been vital to achieving international climate objectives on a unilateral scale.

Against this background, this series aims to analyse the increasingly complex role of non-state actors within the contemporary threat environment, their relationship with states and other non-state actors, and how to mitigate the exploitation of non-state actors within the international system.