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News | Nov. 20, 2014

Being There: The Nonstate Role in Multilateral Cooperation

By Mitch Armbruster, INSS

Nonstate actors—from NGOs to private corporations to citizen groups and wealthy individuals—have been growing their influence over international affairs for more than a generation. Yet despite wide recognition of this fact, there is a dearth of understanding about the effects on global governance, on states and on the nonstate actors themselves.

On November 19, 2014, National Defense University co-hosted a day-long interactive workshop with the Institute for National Security Strategic Studies, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy, The Stanley Foundation, and The World Future Society aimed at advancing the ability of decision makers, policy planners, and strategists to explore the role of nonstate actors in global governance institutions, and to plan effectively for their participation.

The trend toward nonstate participation is unlikely to wane. Given this probability, enhanced understanding of the evolving integration of nonstate power in global governance could:

  • Improve nonstate participation in global governance,
  • Increase the effectiveness of nonstate participation in multilateral venues,
  • Contribute to more robust international institutions overall.
The keynote speaker was Ambassador Peter Galbraith, now the Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Attendees heard from authors commissioned by the co-hosts to write working papers on non-state cooperative initiatives including the Nuclear Security Summit, the G-20, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Partnership Facility, and ICANN. In working groups, attendees and authors examined those initiatives through various frames, including legitimacy, boundaries and nonstate strategies. The day ended with reports from the working groups to the plenary, and a discussion of next steps.