Author(s): Idlir LIKA

A major question of our days is the proliferation of violent “non-state actors” such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (DAESH), Boko Haram and PYD in northern Syria. These developments confront the scholarly community with a basic question: why are these violent “non-state actors” emerging and how will they affect the nature and future of the modern nation-state, which is the building block of the modern international system since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia? This paper tries to tackle these questions by focusing exclusively on DAESH as the quintessential model of violent “non-state actors” and comparing it with the distinguishing features of the modern nation-state from other forms of governance and the competing theories regarding the emergence of the modern nation-state. This paper suggests that violent “non-state actors” like DAESH are proliferating precisely because they have taken over many of modern state’s defining attributes. It concludes by pointing out that DAESH as such has challenged the modern nation-state in terms of empirical statehood but not juridical statehood.


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