International legal personality of non-state actors (rights and duties of non-state actors under international law)
05 / 2010 - 04 / 2013
Niet-statelijke actoren hebben een steeds grotere impact op de internationale betrekkingen, die klassiek worden gedomineerd door staten. Dit onderzoek gaat nu na in hoeverre die toenemende impact dient te worden gereflecteerd in bijzondere rechten en plichten voor de nieuwe participanten.
States are traditionally considered to be the sole subjects of international law. In the real world, however, non-State actors, such as multinational corporations, insurgent or terrorist groups, or leading charitable or issue-oriented organizations (NGOs), have sometimes become more influential and powerful than States. In spite of this evolution, these actors remain largely outside the field of international law. They have no, or very few, formal rights of participation, and they are generally not considered to be internationally accountable for their actions. Under the current system, non-State actors depend on States to defend their interests, and they are only accountable for their transgressions at the level of the State. The system does not seem to contemplate the situation where non-State actors may have their own interests that can hardly be defended by States and that in many parts of the world the power of the State is weak or even non-existent. This research identifies the mismatch between the international legal system and the increased assertiveness of non-State actors in transnational/international relations. Using an interdisciplinary approach (law, political and social sciences, philosophy, economics), it examines the desirability of enhanced legal personality for non-State actors at the international level (in terms of more rights accruing to and duties imposed on non-State actors). It aims to construct an international legal system that accommodates the interests of all international actors, i.e. a system that reflects the underlying social dynamics in the international community.