Non State actors and Governance
Good Governance

The Rise of Non-State Actors in Global Governance: Opportunities and Limitations

Author(s): Conor Seyle, Thomas G. Weiss, Kelsey Coolidge
Date: August 17, 2013
Publication Type: Discussion Paper
Research Topics: Good Governance


The success of non-state actors does not mean that intergovernmental organizations have no role — quite the contrary. The diversity of actors has created opportunities for new partnerships to form and older ones to be strengthened, but states and their intergovernmental organizations remain an essential component of future global governance. Their strengths and unique capabilities should not be short-changed in our enthusiasm for non-state actors.

How has global governance changed as the scope and the number of actors has rapidly evolved in recent history? The Rise of Non-State Actors in Global Governance: Opportunities and Limitations compiles data since the 1950’s on the growth trends of non- state actors and provides a framework to understand why the numbers are important.

Key Findings:

  • There has been a dramatic increase in private- and public-sector international organizations participating in global governance.
  • Non-governmental organizations and transnational corporations, rather than international governmental organizations, have accounted for most of the increase.
  • Transnational corporations have increased both in number and also in participation in global governance.
  • Institutions including non-state actors often have a looser organizational structure that allows for more efficient collaboration than states can often attain.
  • The addition of non-state actors to the mix has expanded the reach and capacity of global governance over the past 100 years.

Related Publications

exploring the puzzle rebel terrorism

Exploring the Puzzle of Rebel Terrorism

Written by Eric Keels on December 11, 2018

The decision by rebel groups to employ terrorism is influenced, in part, by the structure of rebel organizations as well as the strategic environment in which they operate.

Read more
Private Sector Role in Reporting

The Role of the Private Sector in Support of Reporting Under SDG 16

Written by Conor Seyle, Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Promoting Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies on March 1, 2018

In Sustainable Development Goal 16, UN member states committed themselves to tracking and releasing information about the closely related issues of peace, justice, inclusion, and good governance.  Collecting good data about these issues is difficult

Read more

Governance for Peace

Written by Conor Seyle on December 12, 2017

Governance systems that contribute to stable peace are characterized by having inclusive means of operating, participatory systems that bring the governed into the process of decision making, systems for accountability that ensure transparent and

Read more

Climate-Induced Migration and Instability: The Role of City Governments

Written by Ambika Chawla on June 5, 2017

Trends in urbanization and climate change are altering the nature of human settlements. As the number and impact of severe weather events increases, countries and cities are forced to cope.

Read more

Improving Election Prediction Internationally

Written by Ryan Kennedy, David Lazer, Stefan Wojcik on February 3, 2017

Assumptions underlying election result predictions have been encountering wide criticism.

Read more
The Power of Networks in Maritime Security Report Cover

The Power of Networks in Maritime Security: What the Fight Against Piracy Can Teach Us About Irregular Migration

Written by Conor Seyle, Jens Vestergaard Madsen on September 16, 2016

Addressing the developing crisis around irregular migration by sea will require international institutions to work quickly to address the humanitarian, practical, and legal challenges posed by irregular migration.  Applying lessons learned from the

Read more
foreign policy analysis

Conditional Relationships Between Drought and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

Written by Curtis Bell, Patrick W. Keys on August 15, 2016

Few cross-national studies provide evidence of a relationship between environmental scarcity and conflict, although much of the literature claims that destabilizing effects of environmental crises can be mitigated by the right sociopolitical

Read more
United Nations Intervention Good or Bad

The UN Intervention Brigade: Extinguishing Conflict or Adding Fuel to the Flames?

Written by Jay Benson on June 2, 2016

The authorization of the Intervention Brigade (IB) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has sparked controversy in the international community over the value of such deployments for UN peace operations.

Read more