Ethics & International Affairs Volume 20.2 (Summer 2006): Roundtable: "A Threat to One Is a Threat to All": Nonstate Threats and Collective Security: International Governance and the Fight against Terrorism [Excerpt]

Jul 28, 2006

The present concerns about threats to international security from nonstate actors may lead to some significant strengthening of global governance. To support this claim, I will first discuss the nature of contemporary nonstate security threats and then consider the appropriate and likely responses by states to these threats. Nonstate threats are those that have their direct source outside of the actions of states. Security threats have causes, and the point of referring to a threat as a nonstate threat is to claim that its cause lies with nonstate actors. While security threats may originate from either state or nonstate actors, however, in almost all cases they originate from a combination of the two. Both states and nonstate groups and individuals contribute something to them. When threats originate from both sources, one or the other source will predominate. Thus, we may characterize a nonstate threat as a threat in which nonstate actors (groups or individuals) are the main causal agency…

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