The production of EU member states and non-state actors in the context of the war in Syria

Stream: Panel 32 - International Relations: Syria
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


This paper explores the relationship between international state and non-state actors in the context of contemporary political violence and the provision of security. Non-state actors of all kinds (violent and non-violent) have come to act as key partners and key resources in international state actors’ interventions to end violent conflicts and ‘new wars’. Grounded in the constructivist International Relations (IR) scholarship, this paper starts on the premise that these actors are not static entities within a set governance system. Rather, the paper argues, the relationship between state and non-state actors is both dynamic and productive, and that non-state actors (and support for them) can shift from violent to non-violent. Second, the paper illuminates how international state actors identify non-state actors as partners in foreign violent conflicts. Lastly, the paper explores how international state actors play a role in producing and influencing the identities of non-state actors, and the roles and functions they are accredited. Taking the case of the EU’s (and its member states’) involvement with non-state actors in the context of political violence in Syria, the paper theoretically develops the above points and draws a picture of the (kinds of) actors that are produced in this dynamic. The paper does this grounded in empirical insights generated from a systematic analysis of the perceptions of and expectations the EU and its member states hold of the non-state actors with whom they engaged in Syria, and vice versa, from 2011-2015.


Melinda Rankin (Presenter), University of Sydney

Sabine Selchow (Presenter), London School of Economics (LSE)