Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Non-State Actors and Transnational Conflicts

The Changing State of International Warfare

By Tschika McBean

Tschika McBean, a co-Executive Editor of International Law Studies, is an LL.M candidate in International Law at Albany Law School. She is a graduate of the College of Law of Loyola University New Orleans. In addition to the United States, she has studied international law in Austria and Costa Rica. Her writings have appeared in publications such as the NYU Gallatin Literacy Project and Ithaca College’s academic journal. She was the president of the International Law Society at Loyola and she has interned or worked in several human rights organizations, including the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission, Citizens for Global Solutions, the Advancement Society and the New Orleans Family Justice Center. She has lived in five countries, spanning from Guyana to Morocco, and is currently working as a research assistant for Albany Law School's Distinguished Professor James Gathii.

This paper, like her presentation on Darfur that was published on this site earlier this year, was prepared for the International Law of War and Crime Seminar, Fall 2011.

The trend in global warfare, whereby States are forced to combat non-state actors such as Al Qaida and other armed groups who may or may not be supported by another State, is a pressing issue that necessitates a review of the current laws governing international warfare. In other words, the nature of fighting international conflicts has changed and the laws governing these conflicts must evolve as well. This is especially true in relations to securing accountability for the actions of rogue non-state groups that are independent of State support.

Furthermore, it is inarguable that present day international wars have moved beyond the confines of the Geneva Conventions, whereby the main actors (states, military combatants and civilians), their rights and responsibilities are clearly defined. By contrast, non-state actors, such as Private Military Security Contractors (PMSC), mercenaries and independent and State sponsored terrorists groups, are radically changing this equation. Many States are becoming increasing dependent on these groups to fight their wars, while the rights and responsibilities of these non-state actors remain nebulous.*
* Citations to references in this introduction are available in the paper.
To read the entire paper, open HERE.