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The Facelift of Global Security and Non-State Actors

Claudiu Sonda



Article co-authored with Svetlana Izosimova, Master’s student of International and European Relations at Linkoping University, Sweden.

Since the two World Wars and the end of Cold War, the concept of international security has become more complex and wide. Back then, international security was largely focusing on such fields as national-state security policy, strategic studies, defense studies, military studies, war studies, etc. The era of globalization created a context for the transformation of the international security studies arrangements. Today this field includes an increasing number of studies on economic security, human security, environmental, resource security and HIV/AIDS as a security issue.

Globalization and International Security Studies

The notion of the state as the primary unit of interest has similarly  changed. Globalization may exert influence upon global security through different means: producing economic changes, technological development (particularly involving communications and transportation) and border reduction (reflected in trade flows in goods, cross-border travel). Reaction to globalization may lead to a reassessment of key security threats and bringing in new actors.

More specifically, economic disparity and inequality cultivates social polarization and ends in protests and social unrest, international terrorism and civil wars. Cheap and fast access to advances in computers, communications and software leads to cybercrime and diffusion of power. The elimination of geographical borders, once heavily guarded,  moved such dangers as organized crime and the possibility of weapon proliferation to the new level.

Globalization transforms patterns for interdependence and cooperation by changing the environment under which nation-states operate. The key point is that globalization reduces the ability of states to unilaterally protect themselves in terms of responding to specific security threats which result from greater openness. The need for states to cooperate in managing the threats increases.

Change in the quality of threats

Traditional state-centric views of military security are challenged by globalization responsible threats. Almost none of these contemporary security threats are “new.” Concerning terrorism, proliferation, and civil war, they have existed as national threats since the 1940s.For example, in the nineteenth century, terrorism was used by anarchists and transnational revolutionaries who killed half of the  heads of state. In the twentieth century, World War I was triggered partly by such a terrorist-turned-assassin. It can be argued that with the spread of globalization and interdependence not only has the amount of transnational threats increased but they are of a new quality and type.

The ability to cross national boundaries with little hindrance undermines the security idea established by a system based on sovereign nation-states. All of the mentioned threats, from civil war, terrorism,  transnational crime, the proliferation of small arms, to HIV/AIDS are transnational. Using the same technologies and means of transport that have benefited globalization, these transnational security threats in fact do not target states but societies and individuals.


Source: Erwin [email protected]

Another main feature that illustrates the quality change among security threats is the probability. In comparison with interstate war, civil conflicts have not only been on average about five times more frequent but the number of internal conflicts has also been steadily increasing since the end of World War II, while the occurrence of intrastate war has been relatively stable.

In addition, the new security threats are more diverse in terms of their scope and intensity. Intrastate wars can last for decades and might not involve a clear beginning and end point. Many such conflicts start with very low levels of violence, or they might involve long periods of low violence where it may seem that no war is taking place. The recently ended intrastate conflict in Sri Lanka, for example, lasted for over 25 years. Many such wars therefore are very ambiguous in terms of measuring precisely when they start or finish, or how they might shade into acts of terrorism, insurgency, genocide, organized crime, violence, or even interstate war.

Emergence of new actors

Globalization provides international actors with additional tools for enhancing their interests and power. More actors which assume the shape of threats are actively and directly involved in everyday international  affairs. That is why extremist and terrorist ideological groups for example achieved the ability to manipulate an audience by cultivating fear on the global scale. Rebel or resistance movements, warlords, criminal organizations, local militias, ethnic groups, and many other forms of armed opposition act on both national and international levels. The preferences and interests of these groups can vary widely from political goals to profit-making.

Nevertheless, non-state actors have not only contributed to the emergence of new security threats such as terrorism and transnational crime but they also play an important role in conflict managing and provision of security. Non-state actors included into patterns of interstate relations can be grouped into the categories of private actors and intergovernmental organizations. The former includes such actors as private companies, charities, local pressure groups, as well as national and international NGOs. The latter refers to multilateral institutions formed by sovereign nation-states.


Source: Massy [email protected]

What makes the mentioned actors “new” in contemporary security is that they are challenging the role of the nation-state. States  no longer own the ‘monopoly’ on the legitimate provision of security. Moreover, some of these actors lay claim to a higher legitimacy than states because they are not operating in the interest of a single nation. With the increased complexity of the international system, the task of providing security became complicated. A system based on national sovereignty can be rather ineffective when it comes to tackle transnational challenges. Thus, non-state actors appear to be more suited for addressing contemporary threats because they can operate across boundaries by building on multilateral cooperation.

To be more precise, sovereignty is not lost but transferred from national to other levels: supranational and regional. States still play the central role in providing security. The changing nature of the global arena requires though a reconsideration of a exclusive state-centric approach in international security. This reconsideration can be observed in the fragmentation of political authority among governmental and nongovernmental actors.

The fragmentation of political authority is characterized particularly by the delegation of security functions from the state to such organizations as NATO and the European Union on the regional level, and on the global level to such actors as the United Nations or to private actors such as NGOs and private security companies. The functions and policy-making arrangements can be spread between all the actors. For instance, in the conflict with former Yugoslavia the United Nations and NATO provided military security, while NGOs dealt with humanitarian aid, and private security companies offered logistical support.


Source: Medien [email protected]

For the last decades non-state actors have proved their significance and expanded their contribution to security policies. NGOs have become key actors in the provision of human security during conflicts. Private military companies increasingly offer military support services for national armed forces. International organizations, such as NATO and the European Union, have extended their functional and geographical scope and address a new range of security threats.


Globalization posed a new challenge to international security studies. During the recent period the meaning and nature of  primary national and international security threats have changed. A multitude of threats, such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, civil war, HIV/AIDS danger, ethnic conflict together with an increase in the number of non-state entities characterizes the world today. The state as the central focus of security studies found itself in the complex interdependence with various other international actors. While states continue to play a central role at the national level, they have to share authority in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of international policies, rules, and regulations with international organizations, NGOs and multinational corporations at the regional and international levels for the purpose of achieving international security. Moreover, the changing nature of threats and actors is making the concept of security more profound and wide by bringing it from the level of the state to societies and individuals and shifting from military to non-military issues.


  • Kapitonenko, Mykola. Globalization, Nation-state, and Global Security, Arrangements. Europolis, 2009, Issue 6, p585-603
  • Krahmann, Elke. New Threats and New Actors in International Security. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
  • Nye, Joseph S. The Future of Power. New York: Public Affairs, 2011
  • Smith, Michael E.  International Security: Politics, Policy, Prospects. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

Passionate student of IR and European politics with an interest in developing a high-level expertise in International Security and geopolitics.

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Yes, You Should Start Caring About Politics!



One of the most common things that you hear from people a lot of the time is something along the lines of “I just don’t really care about politics.” In fact, you might have even said something along those lines yourself. And it can be tempting to fall into this line of thinking. After all, politics are hardly the most exciting or exotic things in the world. However, the truth is that they impact your life in different ways every single day and if you choose to ignore politics, then that just meant that you’re going to end up falling victim to policies that harm you and the people around you. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can start being more politically minded right now.

Know the issues

Do you know where you stand on many of the most important issues of the modern day? Do you know what most of those issues are? The truth is that many people would rather ignore a lot of the problems that society and the world at large face simply because it can feel as though they’re too big to deal with. Things like the economy, climate change, and social justice aren’t just abstract concepts; they’re things that impact the lives of real people every single day. Being more informed about the issues will allow you to have a much better understanding of your own political views.

Know who to speak to

Do you know who your senator is? Your representative? Most people tend to only know major politicians who have held office at one point or another. Sure, you probably know the president or a senator like John Mccain. But what about all of the other senators like Doug Jones or Mike Crapo? These are the people you can actually contact if you want to start making some changes in the world. Getting to know who you can contact can help you feel much more involved in the modern political process.

Forget about personalities and focus on policies

Modern politics has become as much of a game of personalities as anything else. But the truth is that the personalities of individual politicians are far less important than the policies that they and their party want to enact. After all, the policies are the things that will actually make a difference in people’s lives. You should never vote just because you like or dislike the way that a particular politician talks or what their personality seems to be like. Always vote on policies, not personalities.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should suddenly let politics take over every conversation that you have or that you need to be constantly thinking about it. But trying to bury your head in the sand and ignore the things that are going on around you isn’t going to do you any good. The only way that you can start to make some genuine changes in the world is if you face up to the realities of the modern world and try to do something about it.

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How Mafia-States Get Away with Criminality



In theory, all 195 states adhere to the Charter of the United Nations and therefore pledge “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. In other words, to play the game and adhere to basic governmental principles. That’s in theory: in practice, a handful of states in the world behave like mafias, and get away with it.

President George W. Bush first used the terms “failed states” or “rogue states”, during his office. Rogue states seem more adapted because, if they are failed states in the sense that they do not carry out their mission, they are not failed for everyone. Afghanistan is, still today, one of the most prominent examples of how to get personally rich by pretending to represent people. In the wake of the NATO intervention in Afghanistan, billions of dollars were poured into the country in reconstruction efforts, based on the belief that if the population was schooled and busy at work, they would be less likely to join rebel ranks. The idea was good, but most of the massive funds were sidetracked to line officials’ pockets and Afghanistan is pretty much in the same shape as it was before the program, if not worse. Business Insider covered the subject (1): “All districts receive central government budget to cover salaries of front-line forces,” reporter Jessica Purkiss wrote for the Bureau. “In many areas in Afghanistan, some of this budget disappears and the actual number of officers tasked with holding back the Taliban is much lower than the number actually allotted.”

And such rogue states also exist close to the Western sphere of Europe and the US. Almost every single State in Central and South America is at the warning level on the Fragile State Index (2) (the term was brushed up to sound less definitively damning than President Bush’s wording). Hungary was bashed this year, along with the rest of EU low-performers, for dropping sharply in the EU’s good governance ranking, as reported by Nicolaj Nielsen, for the EU observer (3): “Bulgaria scored the worst among EU states with 41, followed by Greece (44), Italy (47), Romania (48), Hungary (48), and Croatia (49). Dolan faulted the crackdown on civil society and other independent institutions in Croatia and Hungary for their worsening performance. Both governments were also embroiled in scandals last year. In one case, Hungary’s government allegedly funneled money from the Central Bank to friends and family.” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán learned from the report (4) that “Hungary loses 200 billion forints every year due to the corruption that exists in public procurement cases.”

Not to forget that States are not all mutually recognized and accepted, some of them are self-proclaimed. While some do indeed strive to carry out their stated mission and serve the people they claim to represent, some other are merely mafia groups with a political cover, which deal in various traffics and racketeering. Bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, lies Western Sahara, where a group named the Polisario Front announced to the world that it was the shield of the Sahrawi people, who originate from the arid strip of land, with the stated intent of creating a sovereign state. But that must be put into perspective with the endless list of allegations and accusations carried against it, regarding the Polisario’s management of refugee camps in Algeria for example. The self-proclaimed government of the Sahrawi – namely the SADR (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) – is known for keeping the refugees captive in the camps, or keeping family members as hostage to guarantee men’s returns, maintaining a general state of violence and lawlessness within the compound. In addition, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has serious doubts (5) as to what becomes of the humanitarian aid it sends. It suspects not only the food to be sidetracked and sold on the black market, but also to be requested in excessive numbers – the Polisario front claims it holds up to 200 000 refugees but has systematically refused census, leading humanitarian donors to believe the figures are doubtful.

Can this be avoided? Hardly, at the general level. Pablo Escobar coined the phrase which underlies the entire system : Plata o plomo (silver or lead). Officials could be paid off to keep silent and play along, or be shot. Therefore, it is in the nature of corruption systems to maintain themselves because, should a “pure” official arise, he will be removed and replaced by a more complacent one.

Mafia states use the cover of darkness or, better still, a politically activist stance. The Colombian FARCs – Polisario’s allies, incidentally… – and the Medellin Cartel, run by Pablo Escobar, had an intense PR activity with many “social and humanitarian” poses, to help improve their public image and stymie political push-backs. The Polisario Front has moved much of its assaults to the judicial level, in a new form of “civilized” piracy, including with the surprise attempt to seize a Moroccan shipload earlier this year in South Africa. “The conclusion of this case will actually tell us whether it is now conceivable, on the judiciary level, that international shipping industry – which carries 90% of global trade – become hostage to some form of unprecedented and increasingly vicious political piracy,” wrote Philippe Delebecque (6), a French judge specializing in maritime affairs.

Mafia states are here to stay, because the mafia creates the state, and not the other way around. Once the mafia has developed its tentacles and political power enough, it will make kings and topple uncooperative administrators. Other states in the world are fully aware of this fact, and that if they bust a mafia-state, another will replace it within weeks. So, in the best cases, neighboring countries let it be; in the worst cases, they get involved in the graft.


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Should You Support Universal Basic Income? Who else is in favour?

Manak Suri



In the previous article “Universal Basic Income: In Action” we explored that Universal Basic Income under different variants is already being put to trial in different provinces of a number of countries around the world. Before that, in “Universal Basic Income: The Idea” we weighed the potential of UBI in creating a monumental change in the way humanity as a society functions as of today. While there’s still quite some time required to ascertain how easily and efficiently the system can be put into effect and whether it should be put into place at all, some of the more apparent advantages, as well as flaws of the system, are repeatedly considered by experts in determining the answers to the aforementioned questions. In addition, many influential figures have also come out both in support of UBI as well as against it. Let’s take a look at the support UBI has garnered as well as the supposed benefits and criticisms of UBI.

Pros of Universal Basic Income

The first argument often cited in favour of UBI is for its potential to alleviate poverty, improve the standard of living and vastly reduce income inequality no matter which country it is implemented in. the Alaska Permanent Fund (AFP), which we’ve already discussed, was instrumental in improving the state’s income equality rank from 30 to 2. UBI trials in Namibia, Kenya, and parts of India have also yielded positive results in this regard. UBI has also resulted in the improvement of health, especially mental health, as reported by people who have been part of UBI trials in Ontario, Canada. UBI also encourages entrepreneurial behaviour since it guarantees basic subsistence thereby providing an incentive for people to take up a line of work of their liking. UBI trials in India and Namibia have also shown that it has helped promote financial decision making by women resulting in their empowerment. A guarantee of a fixed income every month also brings more power to people when it comes to deciding where they should spend money. The Roosevelt Institute research we discussed previously also suggests an overall growth in the US economy with a countrywide implementation of UBI. UBI is also expected to lead to a positive job growth and lower the dropout rates in schools since it provides more security to families.

Cons of Universal Basic Income

The critics of UBI argue that money that is essential for the poor is being redirected towards the wealthy and those citizens who have no need for it. Robert Greenstein, founder and President of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C.  “if you take the dollars targeted on people in the bottom fifth or two-fifths of the population and convert them to universal payments to people all the way up the income scale, you’re redistributing income upward. That would increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them.” In addition to that, it is often argued that UBI programs are highly ineffective when compared to welfare programs that are implemented on targeted populations. Therefore, unless UBI is implemented without the scrapping off of such welfare schemes, it is likely to find opposition from a huge number of people who currently benefit from these programs. Another argument against UBI one may repeatedly encounter is that UBI reduces the incentive to work, which leads to huge costs for the economy. This may also lead to a dearth of skilled and unskilled labour in the economy. The Swiss government have opposed the implementation of UBI for the very same reason, fearing that the current labour shortages may be exacerbated. Finally, an argument that also holds the door open for many debates is that UBI is too expensive to implement and will cost a lot to the government. As opposed to studies which show a growth in the economies through the implementation of UBI, many economists have also opposed it, claiming that UBI in the more developed nations will be very expensive to guarantee an acceptable standard of living to all the citizens.

Who Supports Universal Basic Income?

Since the idea was first proposed by Sir Thomas More in 1516, UBI has found suitors throughout recent history. Founding father of the United States Thomas Paine was in favour of it, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell argued in its favour, and even Martin Luther King said: “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” American economist Milton Friedman, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and even former US President Richard Nixon came close to bringing UBI to the United States. As of today, a number of high profile names in the Silicon Valley have expressed their support for UBI. An advocate of entrepreneurship and creativity, Mark Zuckerberg sighted UBI as an worth a look in his statement at his Harvard commencement address: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.” Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk believes implementation of UBI is inevitable. “There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said in an interview in 2016. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay also donated towards a UBI experiment in Kenya. Coursera founder Andrew Ng expressed on Twitter: “More than ever, we need a basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.” The list does not stop here.

UBI has at least gained enough attention to get people, investors, world leaders, and governments to talk about it and more importantly experiment with it. The results are not yet out and will take a considerable amount of time still to be able to present a final verdict on UBI and its effectiveness. However, as robots make humans redundant in recurring waves, is there still enough time to just be experimenting?

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