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date: 17 April 2024

Non-State Actors and Conflict Management in Proxy Warslocked

Non-State Actors and Conflict Management in Proxy Warslocked

  • Daniela IrreraDaniela IrreraDepartment of Political and Social Sciences, University of Catania


The influence and impact of non-state actors, particularly humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in conflict management and in contemporary proxy wars, has been at the core of several scholarly debates. Peace research scientists developed knowledge about actors and conditions influencing conflict management and peacebuilding at the global and regional level. They have demonstrated that proxy wars survived the Cold War and developed new features. In particular, non-state actors like NGOs, private foundations, and non-profit associations, slowly but firmly entered the conflict management system, providing expertise and new input.

International relations scholars investigate the main drivers of global humanitarian phenomena and give empirical reflections suitable for adaptive policymaking. It is commonly agreed that conflicts should be solved, human rights violations stopped, and the most inhumane implications reduced, but questions remain about the effectiveness of intervention and the legitimacy of some actors and tools.

The relevance of non-state actors and their roles in conflict management have found in the international relations and peace research an ideal place to develop theoretical and practical implications. Scholars emphasized the various types of actors involved (NGOs, local community representatives, diplomats), and the diverse techniques and approaches developed within and beyond the “traditional” track diplomacy, to conflict transformation.

Starting from the assessment of the state of the literature in the current international relations and peace research theoretical debate on civil and proxy wars, those actors who manage conflicts and the methods and techniques they use are explained further. In particular, it is first sustained that nongovernmental actors are engaged in the management of proxy wars in shared agency with governmental ones. Second, conflict transformation is introduced as an interactive technique to manage proxies.


  • Conflict Studies

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