The rise of transnational actors (TNAs) challenges the state's pre-eminence in international politics by transforming traditionally non-political activity into catalysts or even vehicles for political activism and change. Thus, political theories that onl y recognize the state as the sole unit of analysis fail to serve as adequate models by which actions between states can be forecasted and explained.
Of course the rise of TNAs does not challenge the pre-eminence directly, as one entity might seek to directly dominate or influence another. Rather the methods employed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace or the members of the Europea n legal community to indirectly advance their own interests challenge states' pre-eminence by removing or modifying some of the sovereign prerogatives of the states to determine without interference their rights and obligations vis a vis other states, org anizations and individuals.
Wapner explains how the "indirect" mechanism works by making the distinction that transnational environmental activist groups (TEAGs) are important not because of the way they influence state behavior but by "manipulating governing structures of global ci vil society" (Wapner, "Politics Beyond the State", 1995: 320-336). They do so by "disseminating an ecological sensibility", pressuring multi-national corporations to policies which affect the environment and by helping local communities carry out sustaina ble environmentally friendly projects. These actions collectively can induce states to act in ways contrary to their own self-interest under pressure from international ecological standards. TEAGs pressure states to shape policy by politicizing the interaction that takes place below and above the state level, effecting change by politicizing "global civic society", which consists of apolitical structures that define and shape public affairs. For example, Greenpeace brought to the world's attention instances of environmental abuse such as the harpooning of whales (Wapner, 1995: 313,321).
By "creating" these issues Greenpeace indirectly forced the states' hands. It actively effected change within the ocean dumping regime by changing the regimes focus "from prohibition to regulation" through its mobilization of special interest groups, use of publicity, monitoring environmental commitments of states and advocating precaution and protection of the environment. Its dramatic action of placing dinghies under dumping ships brought international focus on the dumping, making it costly for the Dutc h government to ignore public opinion (Ringius, "Environmental NGOs and Regime Change", 1997: 63-65,73).
Greenpeace's success was supported by the effectiveness of its "transnational coalition building". For example it co-opted special interest groups who had a stake in the environmental deterioration around them - for example the Spanish ocean-oriented com munities who would be affected by the Dutch dumping, the British seamen who were concerned about handling radioactive wastes (Ringius, 1997: 78).
Also, monitoring the environmental commitment of states had a beneficial effect of gaining support from some countries. In 1993 Greenpeace gained Japan's support after exposing a Russian warship which had dumped nuclear wastes in the Sea of Japan. (Ringiu s, 1997: 84). That year, 37 countries voted to accept a ban on nuclear waste disposal in the oceans. Those abstaining - Belgium, Britain, France, China and Russia - found themselves in an embarrassing position and all, save China, reversed their positions in the next year.
Like Greenpeace and other TEAGs, the EC legal community is another transnational actor that indirectly has had a profound influence on the behavior of states. Burley and Mattli ("B&M") (Europe before the Court, 1993:43) show how the legal community within the European Community (EC) used the mechanisms strictly within EC law to advance the integration of EC by interpreting the Treaty of Rome liberally.
While the Treaty's provisions were intended to limit the powers of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to deal primarily with other community organs and member state, the ECJ used Article 177 to build a framework for lawmaking that allows private individu als "to challenge national legislation as being incompatible with community law". By doing so, the ECJ created a pro-EC constituency by giving individuals a stake in EC law but it did not permit them to take action against the EC itself. The Court promote d compliance with EC regulations as it did in the Van Gend & Loos case, where importers objecting to paying customs duties can invoke the Treaty of Rome to compel governments to comply with EC standards. The ECJ also obtained national courts' support by r uling that community law was a matter of judicial interpretation (rather than legislative action) - this gives them a sense of power which also makes the national courts pro-community. Also, lawyers and academics bolster the efforts of the judges by devot ing their practices and their studies exclusively to European community law (B&M, 1993: 58, 60, 61, 64, 70, 71).
By maintaining the fiction that it was performing a nonpolitical interpretation and enforcement of EC laws in favor of EC integration, the ECJ is able to decide on cases in a way that made pro-community laws. The Court justified its actions by reasoning that individuals of states have acquired rights by virtue of their states relinquishing some of their sovereignty. In maintaining this neutrality, even though all its decisions are pro-community, it is able to chip away at the sovereignty of the EC's memb er states without inviting political attack for partisan rulings (B&M, 1993: 70).
These actions of the ECJ have the "functional and political spillover" effect of extending the ambit of laws and shifting expectations which furthers the cause of European integration. The ECJ took the integration of Europe as its agreed objective and cre ated a body of law that allowed that to happen - by ostensibly sticking with the letter of the law. States changed their behavior in accordance with the edicts of the ECJ. Empirical studies showed that though states would object vehemently when the laws w ere invoked against them they rarely contest the result (B&M, 1993: 65-67).
The consequences that TNAs have for state-centered political theories are profound. First the rise of the TNAs affects the unit of analysis. If the state is the only unit of analysis, then the considerable effects wrought by these TNAs are inexplicable. F or example the realist model where the world consists of states striving to survive by seeking power to protect themselves and promoting their self interests (Mearsheimer, "The False Promise of International Institutions", 1994/95: 9-11) would fails to ex plain the impact of TNAs. Further, the very given in a realist argument that the world exists in a state of anarchy is brought into question when states are subject to the combined authority of the ECJ and the EC laws or the will of the "global civil soci ety" guided under the watchful eyes of Greenpeace and other TEAGs.
These examples also disprove realist views that institutions are merely an "intervening variable" in their ability to change state behavior (Mearsheimer, 1994/95: 13). In fact they have challenged liberal institutionalists who accept realist assumptions o f anarchy and hold that institutions affect the prospects for international stability by alleviating fears of relative gains and cheating by acting as a mechanism for disclosure of information to the members in the institution (Keohane & Martin, "The Prom ise of Institutionalist Theory", 1995: 45,48). The ECJ is more than an institutional mechanism by which non-compliance with EC law is disputed. It has become a focal point for a process which includes the participation of individuals and national courts w hich not only performs the function of disclosure but also the function of overriding a member state's sovereignty.
Environmental NGOs like Greenpeace challenge the preeminence of states with their ability to force states to comply with their agenda by mobilizing domestic and international opinion against the recalcitrants. The relevance of the state-centered theories again are called into question because they do not even consider NGOs or amorphous groups such as the "global civil society" as a unit of analysis. The two-level framework which considers the balance of domestic concerns against international ones couches its model in terms of how the statesman makes his decision by considering what his domestic constituency will ratify against what states with accep t (Moravcsik, "Introduction: Integrating International and Domestic Theories of International Bargaining, 1993: 13). What it adds as a unit of analysis is the statesman, who becomes a key figure in deciding policy. In a world in which environmental activi sm plays a big part, the key actors - Greenpeace, its special interest allies and "the global civil society" are not accounted for in the two-level balancing equation.
How relevant are the theories at the end of the day depends on the degree to which each of the TNAs are effective in promulgating and achieving their ends outside the states' sphere of activity. Within the EC, for example, the theories are seriously chall enged by the success of integration and the mechanism by which it is achieved. However this is not necessarily true for the rest of the world, which is not bound by the Treaty of Rome, without which the ECJ judges could not have effected their incursions into state sovereignty. (1480 words)