Political Science 2401
September 22, 2014
Six Actors on an International Stage
There are six actor types in international relations: state, nation-states, supranational organization, international organizations, non-government organizations, and multinational corporations. Each actor serves a purpose to varying degrees but two are especially significant in that one of the six actors is ideally the most prudent or important while the other is more obsolete and insignificant. In order to determine the least and greatest actors one has to go through the all the actors, furthermore a detailed description is necessary to determine the validity of an argument. The argument being, that states are the most important actor and supranational organizations are the least important because of their total level of usage.
Each of the six actor types is significant in a specific way and serves a particular function to international relations. States are the foundation to the system to the system and without them there would be no international relations. The elements that make up a state are three specific things: Sovereignty, a defined territorial area, and a government that makes and enforces laws. A state’s sovereignty is its ability to make decisions both internally and externally. This means decisions are made by the state and not an external force, and a state’s sovereignty must be accepted by other states. For example, “Sovereignty is the basis of the state’s power supremacy within the country itself, exclusive control over the territory and power independence from other states” (Soros, 2007). A more physical example of a state would be the country France; it meets all three conditions to be considered a state and more. France has a border, an established government, and its sovereignty is well respected in the international community. What makes this different from nation-states is the nationalism of a country. A nation-state still has to be considered a state first, “a nation, however, is a group of people who share the same culture but do not have sovereignty”, and that means it must have the three specific elements that make up a state: sovereignty, a government, and territory (Olson). Following all of this, it must have nationalism, the identifying with a specific group through the sharing of a common trait or traits such as language, culture, religion, etc. This is not a definition based on the ethnicity or any physical traits, but with the social characteristics of a particular group. An example of a nation-state is Germany prior to World War II because it had the extra factor of nationalism and all the criteria of a state as well. Both states and nation states are the strongest actors in the system and from the cumulative information thus it can be inferred that all nation-states are states but not all states are nation-states, proving the level of significance and use of a state when compared to a nation-state.
International Organizations, also known as I.O.’s, are organizations created by states to undertake a specific activity. There are several examples of an I.O. such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The United Nations is a prime example of an international organization because of its creation post World War II due to the failure of the League of Nations. It was created by 51 countries for the specific function of promoting and keeping peace but is mainly used as a forum for the general assembly of nations. While it does have a lot of potential it does not have a great deal of power since it can never force any nations to follow its guidance. More often than anything else, it is neglected for the good it could serve; this places its level of usage in between middle and low as compared to a state.
Supranational Organizations are unique in that they are organizations that states relinquish power or elements of...
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