PANEL 7: Revisiting the Role of Non-State Actors in International Relations

Chair and Discussant: Dr. Anderson V. Villa (Ateneo de Davao University)
– Associate Professor, International Studies department
Panel’s abstract: This panel seeks to revisit the specific roles played as well as the impact of non-state actors in international relations. Through the individual level of analysis, Imelda Marcos’ role in Philippine foreign relations during his husband’s presidency illustrate how individuals could transcend the limitations set by the structure. In the societal level of analysis, religions also transcend the limits set by a state-centric international system. The Soka Gakkai and Tzu Chi are Buddhist organizations that have promoted principles akin to what the English School calls World Society. Still non-state actors like NGOs are being utilized by state agents to further their national interest. This was seen in how the USAID utilized Philippine NGOs to further American interest and values in the country.

7.1 The Transformation of the Role of a First Lady
Kristine E. Corpuz, Yasmine B. Stones, and Alexandra Cates Erika B. Suyo (Ateneo de Davao University)
– Advanced undergraduate students, International Studies department
Abstract: Imelda Marcos, beyond her extravagant lifestyle, has contributions to Philippine foreign relations that are unknown and ignored. This study aimed to discover how Imelda changed the role of a first lady and what she did for Philippine foreign relations. Both primary and secondary sources were utilized in the data gathering process. Using Anthony Gidden’s Structuration theory it was found that Imelda transformed the role in two ways: by politicizing the role and by enriching it with diplomatic activities. The transformation of the role started through its politicization. This was brought about by the inherent political nature of the agent that came to be after Imelda was molded by her husband, Ferdinand Marcos. The coming of a politically aware actor into the traditionally apolitical role of a first lady changed the structure of Philippine politics in ways that allowed the inclusion of political practices. This in turn helped pave the way for Imelda’s diplomatic duties. The politicization intersected with the Dovie Beams scandal and the increasing domestic unrest in the Philippines. These events ironically gave Imelda the chance to involve herself in diplomatic missions. Her trips all over the world included the opening of PH-USSR and PH-China relations. She was also part of the negotiations for the Tripoli agreement. These three events contributed greatly to the advancement of Philippine foreign relations and to the further transformations & enrichment of the role of a first lady in the structure of Philippine politics.

7.2 The World Society Conceptions of Buddhist Transnational Actors in the Philippines: The Case of Soka Gakkai International and Tzu Chi Foundation
Chrismae Babia, Reinalyn Abrigoso, Christlyn Faith Gujol, and Margarita Yu (Ateneo de Davao University)
– Advanced undergraduate students, International Studies department
Abstract: The Westphalian mythic narrative of the origin of nation-states, created a dominant discourse where religion has been given minimal attention by scholars of International Relations. However, with the emergence of religious transnational actors, specifically Buddhist transnational actors, its irrefutable influence in the contemporary international system suggests that religion and its place in international affairs should no longer be disregarded. By focusing on two Buddhist transnational organizations—Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Tzu Chi Foundation—this study re-evaluates the role of religion in international relations through a mix method approach, utilizing document analysis, participant observation and an in-depth interview. The dissection of data gathered arrives at a consensus that 1) there is a parallelism between the conducts of Buddhist transnational actors and that of state actors; 2) these Buddhist transnational actors perceive a chaotic world, thus, they believe that their mission is to provide universal remedy, and; 3) religious transnational organizations such as SGI and Tzu Chi Foundation function as non-governmental organizations, propagating a shared identity that goes beyond the state level. This research expands the English School theory of International Relations, arguing that the functioning of Buddhist transnational actors in the contemporary international system indicates the existence of a World Society.

7.3 USAID Role on Human Trafficking Smart Power Projection
Louis Palma Gil, Charlene Jillian Chua, Janine Deanne Fulgencio, and Nico Gabriel Veneracion (Ateneo de Davao University)
– Advanced undergraduate students, International Studies department
Abstract: This study looks at how the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) strengthens the Philippines’ campaign against human trafficking while acting as a smart power projection tool of the US in pursuit of the US Pivot to Asia. This study is based on qualitative interviews conducted on four USAID funded non-governmental organizations (NGO). This study’s respondents include: the Children’s Lega Bureau, Inc. (CLB), Bidlisiw Foundation (BIDLISIW), TAMBAYAN Center for Children’s Rights, and the Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA) Foundation. This study is theoretically guided by Joseph Nye’s Smart Power while applying Braun and Clarke’s method of thematic analysis in interpreting and analyzing the data. This study’s findings are the following: First, USAID funded NGOs are provided with both financial and technical assistance for Government & NGO partnership, governmental capacity development, human trafficking prevention, and service provision for human trafficking victims. Second, the USAID, as a tool of smart power projection, exhibits both hard and soft power components as it forces the Philippines to comply with US minimum standards, non-coercively attracts Philippine cooperation, and improves US-Philippine bilateral relationship. Finally, the USAID, as a Smart power projection tool for US’s Pivot to Asia, is able to strengthen American alliance with the Philippines, establish its presence in Asia, and uphold the pivot to Asia policy on human rights. This study concluded that the USAID strengthens the Philippines campaign against Human Trafficking and projects US Smart power in order to reinforce the US Pivot to Asia.

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