It has been decades since the concept of Non-State actors has been actively functional under the International Law. Non-State Actors are the organisation apart from governmental organizations who have the de facto financial, institutional and economic power to influence a change in large scale. It should be appreciated that NSA has no legal status. Like: Multi-International Companies, International Non-Governmental Organisations, Terrorist groups, Armed Forces, civil society, religious groups.
So in simple terms “Non-state actors can be any institution which is not a state.”
Taking about the significance, the Non-State Actors have no significance in the International Law that means legally in International Law, NSA doesn’t exist; here is where the real problem comes up. Being such an integral part of International Law, NSA doesn’t hold any legal position. There needs to be strict reform for making NSA a legal entity under International law. The main reason being, whenever the state has to perform an activity which is not in favour of the state, the state makes the NCA do it as they hold strong influence and are not even legal. Taking Pakistan for instance, the country’s state is against India but the steps showing agitation are done by the terrorist group, not Pakistan state itself. Here we can see that somehow Pakistan is backing up the terrorist activities.
All that is being requested is that within the formal conception of International Law Non-State Actors should be seen as a legal entity. Hence, Non-State Actors should be included in the International Rule of Law (IROL). The International law still needs to define the IROL conclusively. The good part as Non- State Actors are recognised as potential new subjects by the United Nations, however not recognised as a traditional object.
One of the reasons why the UN is resenting from giving NSA legal rights is that the states might not be keen to share their powers with a new entity. Furthermore, NSA is institutions who have a concept of using violence as that has been going on for decades, so giving NSA a legal status might turn out to legitimize the unlawful acts. This may turn into legitimizing their use of violence, as in the case.
Taking the following case in light, some human right NSA filed a petition against the president of Congo, in the French court, stating that he has committed the crime against humanity. The case when came to International Criminal Court, it was decided by ICC that the petition filed by the NSA against the president of Congo did not hold any substantiate evidence hence the case was held void and the request was denied. Here the most important part that can see is neither ICC nor the French court rejected the request of the NSA’s.
This is the situation now when the NSA’s didn’t have any legal stand; giving them the authority of legal stand might turn out to be a negative aspect all together also.
As seen in the article, Non-State actors have both negative and positive significance over the society. In order to benefit from NSA in a positive aspect, the International Law needs to regulate the behavior of NSA in the same manner as the traditional international laws are governing over the states.
Written By: Aprajita Karki, A student of UPES, Dehradun as part of the Internship Program.