Non-State Actors and Global Governance
A major new research line of the Centre concerns the ever more prominent role of non-State actors in global governance. Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, multinational enterprises, and insurgent groups are increasingly active alongside states, and have sometimes even supplanted the state.
However, under current international law (which traditionally concerned itself with the rights and duties of states), the precise rights and duties of non-state actors are unclear. Faced with this legal uncertainty, this research sets out to ascertain what tendencies could be discerned as far as the rights and obligations of non-state actors under international law and in international institutions and regimes are concerned. It aims to identify rights and obligations which may apply to different actors in different situations. In so doing, this research, conducted partly in the context of an international research network on non-state actors managed by the Centre and funded by Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) as well as the Centre’s participation in COST Action IS0702 (section 4.4), goes beyond the fragmented studies of specific arrangements regarding the international legal position of non-state actors. Unlike previous studies, it will perform an integrated and comprehensive assessment of the legal position of non-state actors. Put differently, it will contribute to the larger academic debate on non-state actors, and will lead to the identification of general legal principles that may be applied in a variety of legal or institutional situations, and to a variety of non-state actors.
The first output generated includes a PhD thesis defended in December 2009 by Ingrid Rossi and published with Intersentia in 2010 as Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organizations in International Law (infra, p. 51) and the edited volume Non-State Actor Dynamics in International Law, published with Ashgate in 2010 (infra, p. 53).