By most accounts, there are over 30 countries currently at risk of political failure. Placed within a global context, one in every six national governments has difficulty controlling some part of its sovereignty. This is an unprecedented and worrisome development that has very real implications for Canadian security.

In Making the World Safe for Canada: Canadian Security Policy in a World of Failed States, AIMS Security and Defence Policy Fellow Alex Wilner outlines the manner in which failed states and global terrorism are intertwined and offers recommendations that will better protect Canadians.

Wilner explains that failed states usually share a number of characteristics – a loss of territorial control and porous borders; an unstable political structure; ineffective judicial and policing systems; a declining economic base; a rise in criminality, corruption, and political violence; and a higher probability of sectarian and ethnic violence and civil conflict.

They are also at higher risk of terrorist predation.

Time and time again — in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere — state fragility and failure has facilitated the establishment of well-funded and resilient terrorist organizations. As a result, failed states are no longer the sad, humanitarian cases of yesteryear, but potential incubators of global terrorism and a threat to Canadian security as a result.

And yet, not all failed states are the same; some threaten Canadians more than others. In Making the World Safe for Canadians, Wilner says appreciating which ones top the list and discerning what the government might do to protect Canadians will require two things.

First, Canada needs to develop an institutionalized system that not only identifies what state is at risk of political failure, but what failed state is a threat to Canadian interests. Only then will Canadian decision-makers have the means with which to properly identify where Canadian resources are most needed and how they might be effectively utilized.

Second, intervening in failed states will require the very best intelligence. That Canada is the only G8 and NATO country without its own autonomous foreign intelligence gathering agency should no longer be considered a historical quirk but a real security impediment. Canada is offensively and defensively at the forefront of the struggle against global terrorism; our military and political leaders need the very best intelligence if they are to construct the right policies that serve to defend Canadians at home and abroad.

To read the complete paper, click here.