Non-State Actors: Stepping onto the Stage

Over a generation, the force and fabric of international relations have changed.

The World Today
6 minute READ

Louis Turner

During the Cold War, states dominated events, but, fifteen years later, non-state actors – potent groups, institutions and even individuals independent of governments and acting on their own account – have assumed an influence both unexpected and immeasurable. Starkly, September 11 2001 showed how a single non-state actor, Al Qaeda, could change the course of international affairs.

Although few other non-state actors may have the same brutal impact as Al Qaeda, the contemporary world shows just how deeply they are embedded in the international system. For instance, once the most recent Iraq war started, the United States and its allies found they were fighting in a more complex environment than they faced during the 1991 Gulf war.

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