Non-state actors (NSA) are organizations, who even though do not belong to any state institution have the power of influencing and causing changes. Examples of NSAs are non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international media, violent militants, religious groups, and multinational corporations. The dealings and activities of these NSAs sometimes result in threats, generally considered as non-traditional threats. Non-traditional threats are seen as issues that threaten the very survival of states but do not arise from military sources. Some of these non-traditional threats include climate change, migration, environmental degradation, and trafficking. Bonanno noted that the international relations of realism does not accept the idea that NSA should be admitted into state and international systems. The reason for this is that realists opine that international relations simply involves states acting or interacting among themselves.
Even though realists fail to acknowledge NSA as international influencers, it is not all threats by the NSAs that can be considered as non-traditional and only affecting one country. There are a number of justifications for this position. First, there are NSAs that are violent army groups. Examples of these are terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS). Even though such groups are NSAs, the threats they pose sometimes come with military influence and sources. A clear example of this is violent militants who stage coup de tar as rebel group. Indeed such threats cannot be considered as non-traditional ones because of the military link that is always associated with it. The second justification is that even with non-traditional threats from NSAs, not all of them affect only one country. The current migrant crisis that has hit Europe is a clear indication that non-traditional threats do not affect only one country.
As mentioned earlier, non-traditional threats come in many forms and include migration, drug and human trafficking, and climate change. Clearly, these are threats that span borders and can therefore be regarded as international issues of problems. Ağır and Arman observed that because these non-traditional threats span borders, they require international cooperation to counter and deal with them. There are specific examples of how non-traditional threats that stated at national levels eventually escalated into international threats and have therefore become issues requiring international cooperation in addressing them. The ongoing European migrant crisis is a clear case. Zhao emphasized that the problem stated in most countries such as Syria and Afghan as refugee crisis that was limited to them alone. But with time, these refugees started crossing several borders to get into Europe. The Eurostat reported that in 2015 alone, there were 1.2 million who had made applications as first-time asylum seekers in European Union member states. The nature of this non-traditional threat has resulted in international cooperation among European countries. Indeed as part of the European Commission’s 10-point proposal to address the migrant crisis, it stressed on the need to use Joint Operations with affected areas. This Joint Operations involved international cooperation among countries and other NSAs. Another example of how international cooperation has been used to address non-traditional threats is the approach to curbing climate change and its effects on society. Through the use of various international climate accords, different countries have come together to cooperate effectively on ways to stop the effect of climate change.
Today, more and more countries are becoming nationalistic in their ideology. That is, most of them are beginning to look for avenues by which they will focus on development at the national level without meddling themselves in international issues that take twist their developmental agenda. In the estimation of Dickey, this new nationalistic ideology has created a problem for most governments in their commitment in contributing efficiently to international cooperation that counter non-traditional threats. There are several examples that can be cited to prove the strive that normally exist between governments and the international community in addressing non-traditional threats. One of these is the case of the United States, which refused to sign the Paris Climate Accord due to perceived economic effects that it would have on the country. Ideological differences and its associated impacts is thus an example of the problems that arise from addressing non-traditional threats with international cooperation.
Another problem is that there is a perception of other countries attempting to gain economic and political control over other due to the support they offer to them in addressing non-traditional threats that face them. Meanwhile, this is a situation that directly conflicts international relations theory of liberalism. That is, liberalists opine that each country should be given absolute opportunity to control its own affairs without direct or indirect external influences. Meanwhile, Martel lamented that in the bid of economic powers such as China and United States to join international cooperation to addressing non-traditional threats such as food shortage and hunger in some African countries, the helpers have gone a step further to gain deep economic and political control over these countries.
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