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Are states still the most powerful actors in global politics?

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INTRODUCTION (MAX 3/4 PAGE) Are states still the most powerful actors in global politics? This essay will prove that states are the most powerful actors in global politics. The state of our world today is such that it can often be unclear as to who are the most important actors in world politics. While some may argue that states are still the most powerful actors in global politics, non-state actors also play an important role and cannot be dismissed. I will begin by providing an overview of the roles played by states and non-state actors in international relations. There are a number of authors who strongly believe that non-state actors are playing an increasingly important role in global politics. This essay will provide an in-depth look into these alternative views. BACKGROUND (3-4 PAGES) In international relations, there are two groups which compose of the actors in global politics: states and non-state actors. As defined in the International Relations textbook, a state is "a territorial entity controlled by a government and inhabited by a population."1 A state has ultimate sovereignty over its population and is acknowledged by other states. There is no authoritative power which resides above a state. Almost every state has a capital city and a leader who acts in what he believes to be of interest to the state. ...read more.


Compared to states, NGOs are not confined by public opinion or the desire to keep peace with allied states. NGOs have been recognized as being important in the progression towards a cleaner global environment, the quick relief in war zones, and the struggle towards democracy. The large number of NGOs in attendance at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development demonstrates their desire to be included as rightful participants in environmental management.7 The 1980s saw the emergence of NGOs as important figure in world elections. According to Vikram Chand in Beyond UN Subcontracting, NGOs were the first to become involved in election monitoring (P 160). The monitoring of elections helped to provide democratic elections in countries where the leaders are often oppressive. From 1986 to 1989, election monitors played important roles in the transitional elections in the Philippines, Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, and Haiti.8 It is undeniable that NGOs play an important role in global politics. Through the United Nations, non-governmental organizations have a legitimate place within the political system. In The Conscience of the World, Peter Willets summarizes two of the benefits NGOs receive in being a part of the UN (43). In practice, recognized NGOs have access to all UN documents which have been officially circulated. NGOs are also given security passes which provide access into all the buildings used by diplomats. ...read more.


In the international community there is not an individual or a group who holds higher authority than a state. Authorized states are entitled to participate in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Thus, states are able to make decisions affecting political and economic policies which impact the world. Non-state actors are not entitled to vote in the United Nations; therefore, it is difficult to get their voices heard. (Third Argument) Non-state actors simply do not have the resources to be successful as the major actors in world politics. In regards to finance, it is crucial that NGOs are not funded by a specific government or intergovernmental organizations. The fear is that if an NGO is financed by a state, that non-profit organization could become an instrument of foreign governments and thus compromise their independence.14 Without the assistance of a state, NGOs do not possess the power to become major actors in world politics. Their memberships alone do not often have the funds required to support the NGO. 1 Joshua Goldstein, International Relations 2 3 IR 13 4 The Conscience of the World 16 5 The Conscience of the World 36 6 The Political Influence of NGOs p.25 7 Ian Smilie - Beyond UN Subcontracting 203 8 Beyond UN Subcontracting 160 9 The Conscience of the World p. 43 10 Susan Strange, The Retreat of the State, Preface IX 11 Susan Strange, The Retreat of the State, 5 12 Strange, The Retreat of the State 53 13 Strange, The Retreat of the State, 69 14 The Conscience of the World p6 ...read more.

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