Should Non-State Actors Be Engaged in Peacebuilding: Persuasive Essay

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As time passes so too does human advancement in all areas. Wars and subsequently ending wars (peace) have also advanced throughout time. From fighting on horseback and making peace using marriage to fighting in cyberspace and making peace using treaties, humans have also advanced in peace and conflict. Humanity keeps on finding ways to fight each other and then make peace with each other. More commonly, we have seen states fighting and making peace, but recently, there has been significant emergences of non-state actors on the battlefield which have started to pose more potent threat to peace than even states themselves. The International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights defines non-state actors as “organizations and individuals that are not affiliated with, directed by, or funded through the government. These include corporations, private financial institutions, and NGOs, as well as paramilitary and armed resistance groups”. Working with such groups may bring peace faster, but some say that by involving non-state actors, we are giving them too much power and that they may come back stronger and more malicious in their treacherous efforts. ‘Force must be met with even stronger force’ is what humanity has been going by for centuries, but war still ensues. Is it time for much needed although unpredictable change?

Those who are for engaging non-state actors in peacebuilding argue that by engaging non-state actors we are facing the main issue that brought them up in the first-place head on, and that by not involving them we are making the process of peacemaking impossible, and thusly causing more damaged to other work and even relief efforts by prolonging the peacemaking process. In an article by the International Committee of the Red Cross, C. Hofmann and U. Schneckener state that non-state actors are often the expression of social problems, as they see themselves as representatives of distinct interests and may build on broad support within communities. Non-state armed actors, such as rebel groups, militias, organizations led by warlords, and criminal networks, often bear the potential to disturb, undermine, or completely truncate processes of peacebuilding and state-building, leading violence to flare up again. Additionally, international actors such as humanitarian aid workers, representatives of governments, and peacekeepers are often affected by this violence in their work. It is clear that by approaching the non-state actors, the problems that these groups fight against might be solved, and thusly, by solving the problem, peace might be made. It also shows that it is absolutely vital that the groups are involved, as by continuously fighting them, the damage caused to the people, economy and infrastructure get worse. It also makes the local communities where war is ravaging hate and rebel the people who claim to want to help, this way the war goes on longer and tensions are forever rising. It stops becoming a peacemaking effort and starts to become about retaliation and control. Recently we saw such an example when a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general, Qasem Suleimani, which resulted in Iran targeting a US base and killing Iraqi citizens instead of US soldiers. This highlights what normally goes on during these wars: innocents getting killed, tensions rising and further prolongation of deadly war.

This also defeats the purpose of relief efforts to these areas, as these groups have the ability to disrupt everything that goes on, however, they equally have the ability to let everything run smoothly, which supports that non-state actors should be involved in peacemaking.

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Further evidence suggests that working with non-state actors is beneficial towards the process of peacemaking, and further supports the article by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which highlights the importance of cooperation with non-state actors not only to make peace quicker, but to also allow other organizations to deliver help to the area affected.

Such evidence can be found in the United States peace talks with the Taliban. During such peace talks, the fighting in Afghanistan became tamer and relief efforts were easier sent to the innocent civilians affected in the conflict. The benefit is clearly seen by the fact that the Taliban doesn’t rule the country any longer. Education for girls is no longer disallowed, although this came as a result of invasion, but more recently it has opened up talks that will allow US troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan, which has been an issue that conflict hasn’t solved for 18 years. The BBC reports that “the Taliban movement continues to be a fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to the country's government. They continue to carry out attacks across the country, including on military bases and schools. Many people believe that future peace in Afghanistan can only come if the government negotiates with the Taliban”. Clearly, although conflict initially removed the Taliban out of power, the war is still very much at large.

The New York Times reported: “In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement. Mr. Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country”, resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul. “We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation”, he said. But after abruptly scrapping a diplomatic process that appeared to be inching toward a conclusion, it was unclear where Mr. Trump would go from here”. Further analysis of the article shows the clear problems of working with non-state actors. Firstly, the blame game is always played against the two parties involved, which kills trust. Trust between the parties in peace talks is absolutely essential, as promises are made to each other that parties must believe will be honored. Secondly, the parties being enemies will always work on getting leverage over each-other. This weakness was especially detrimental in the peace talks between the US and the Taliban, as it killed the talks completely and put the hope for peace in Afghanistan further out of reach.

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists” is the most recognized comment by top government officials. Peacemakers, especially countries like the US, that are involved in almost every major conflict, have to be open towards working with non-state actors for peace to be achieved, yet it seems that humanity is not yet ready to adopt this version of diplomacy. Remorse, revenge, self-interest coupled with distrust will not allow this to work easily. Peacemaking, in these cases, has to be a two-way street and so too does trust.

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Should Non-State Actors Be Engaged in Peacebuilding: Persuasive Essay. (2023, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Should Non-State Actors Be Engaged in Peacebuilding: Persuasive Essay.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2023,
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