States are the Most Powerful Global Actor

1553 Words May 13th, 2013 7 Pages
‘States are the most powerful global actor.’ Discuss.

Although global actors can sometimes have considerable power over states, the extent of this power ultimately depends on the relative power and influence of the state in question. Large developed states, such as the US, are extremely powerful compared to most other global actors and are not often influenced by their actions. However, small and undeveloped states are not always completely powerless. To determine whether states are indeed the most powerful global actors, we must look at the relative powers of trans-national corporations (TNCs), non-government organisations (NGOs) and some of the institutions of global governance.

TNCs have significant power over developing states but
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The structure and power of the UN Security Council is a major factor regarding how some states are able to exert power over the UN. For example, any permanent member of the UNSC (China, Russia, the US, Britain or France) can veto any resolution proposed as they please. As a result of this we have seen much needed resolutions been dropped due to permanent members vetoing due to national interests. In the case of the conflict in Syria, both resolutions proposed by the UNSC were vetoed by Russia and China as they went against their national interests. In this way, the permanent five members are certainly more powerful than the UN. Furthermore, states sovereignty imposes limits on the extent to which the UN can protect human rights. States sovereignty can also mean that states can refuse to sign international agreements that are seen as against their national interests. For example, the US’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Nevertheless, the UN does exhibit some power over states. It can authorise the use of force or peacekeepers or economic sanctions against states where internal conflict has occurred. For example, in 2006 the UNSC authorised the use of peacekeeping troops in Sudan in response to the conflict in Darfur. Similarly in 2011, the UNSC authorised the use of force to protect civilians against the attacks of the Gaddafi regime. Conclusively, although the UN has the ability to authorise various
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