What are the pros and cons for the legitimacy of non-state actors in global governance?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we speak of non-state actors (NSAs), we're referring to any private organization not associated with government that has the ability to influence international public policy through international relations. It can be argued that NSAs have always existed and have always played an essential role in governance; however, with the rise of globalization, the power of NSAs to shape global governance is becoming a subject of serious study. In general, NSAs have better communication tools than states that make them much more influential, particularly influential in "shap[ing] international human rights norms in a powerful way" (Public Diplomacy Magazine, "The Power of Non-State Actors").

However, one con is that communication tools can also be used by "violent NSAs" to "attract extremists and fundamentalists" ("The Power of Non-State Actors").

One pro to using NSAs to shape global governance concerns the fact that NSAs are far more equipped for intercultural communication. It has been found that many NSAs have "developed intercultural dialogue seminars" in order to train workers and executives in how to communicate internationally ("Non-state Actors and World Governance"). In contrast, state diplomats are not trained to engage in an intercultural dialogue; instead, they are only "trained to understand other societies through the prism of their own [society]" ("Non-state Actors and World Governance"). As a result, NSAs have developed far more influential communication techniques.

A second pro to using NSAs is that many enterprises are just as large as states, particularly with respect to how much money some enterprises hold, making them just as able to compete in the field of shaping governance as states ("Non-state Actors and World Governance").

A third pro, among many others, is that NSAs are often able to act much faster than states. One example is seen in the fact that many enterprises are able to reallocate needed funds much more quickly. In comparison, states are incapable of reallocating funds without parliamentary approval. States can also only act by "interact[ing] with representatives of other states," whereas enterprises are not limited in that capacity ("Non-state Actors and World Governance").