Non-State Actors and Non-Military Security

For the third year in a row, Alyson Bailes in the Department of Political Science at HÍ will be giving a course this term on ‘Non-State Actors and Non-Military Security’ which is fully open to the public. No payment or registration is needed and outside guests are encouraged to drop in for as many sessions as they wish.The course is part of HÍ’s MA in International Relations and consists of 13 lectures all starting at 1320 Fridays in room 311 at Árnagarður. The first session is on 22 January and there is one week’s break for Easter.
General Information and Course ObjectiveTraditional security analysis was often limited to military transactions and power-play between nation-states and their agents (including armies). The late 20th-early 21st century has seen a broadening-out of the concept of ‘security’, and a new understanding of how actors of many different kinds can affect it for good or ill. Non-state insurgents in weak states, and terrorists, are now commonly classed as threats: but other non-state players such as NGOs, business, civil society and the media can play positive as well as negative roles. This course provides an introduction to the (fast evolving) ways that analysts and policy-makers now look at non-state actors, and the range of principles and practical solutions put forward for dealing with them. It starts from a developed-world viewpoint but also notes the importance of these challenges for the Southern hemisphere. The course moves on to explore the main non-military, or ‘functional’, dimensions of security that preoccupy Western policy-makers today – such as infrastructure, environment and energy security – and to discuss ways of handling them both severally and in their multiple interconnections. To close the circle, it offers tools for tackling the question of how non-state actors impact upon security in its non-military forms, and vice versa.

The planned course outcome is that course participants should acquire an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of:
Definitions and main concepts relating to non-state actors in the security context

Main roles played by such actors for good or ill, and options/instruments for policy response

Current definitions and concepts in the field of non-military security: ‘package’ definitions and individual dimensions

Practical manifestations of policy challenges in the most prominent non-military dimensions including those that are important for Iceland

Aspects of interplay and cooperation between official and non-state actors in Iceland in at least some of these fields

The general range of possibilities for non-state actors playing a role in non-military security fields and the merits of different options for official control of, or engagement with, them.

University participants will be expected to demonstrate these understandings, and a grasp of relevant facts and examples, in the final examination.

Course Syllabus – updated

Additional Readings

Alyson J.K. Bailes´ CV


Vika 1/ Week 1


Non-State Actors

Individual Security and National Security (Buzan)

The Security Spectrum


Vika 2/ Week 2

A World at Risk

Something Security (PPT)

Something Security





Extra Lecture on Economic Security

Background Reading (Barry Buzan)

Economic Security (PPT)



Vika 3/ Week 3

Terrorism (PPT)


Vika 4/ Week 4

Conflict (PPT)

Peace Missions 2009

EXTRA: An Vranckx´s Lecture


Vika 5/ Week 5


NGOs from Thorir (PPT)


Vika 6/ Week 6

„Business as usual?“ CSR and Security (PPT)

The many faces of business – handout

Business and Security (PPT)


Vika 7/ Week 7

Human Security (PPT)

Human Security Law (PPT)

Analysing risk to human lives (E Skons)

Towards a Practical Human Security Agenda (K Krause)


Vika 8/ Week 8

Environmental Security (PPT)

EXTRA:  A New Northern Security Agenda (L Heininen)