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Larsen, Henrik. “NATO in and Illiberal World.” The RUSI Journal 166, no. 3 (2021): 84-92.


Partnerships remain NATO’s only external policy instrument in an illiberal world. However, NATO needs to differentiate more clearly between its partners and intensify security cooperation with like-minded states to mitigate the threats posed by Russia and China. Henrik Larsen proposes the following differentiation: ‘Advanced Partners’ in Western Europe and the EU, stressing the benefits of their technological strengths and shared values to bolster joint resilience capacity; ‘Enhanced Partners’ in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, focusing on the need to improve governance and resilience vis-à-vis illiberal powers; and ‘Worldwide Partners’, prioritising both NATO’s southern periphery, to manage regional instability, and the Asia-Pacific, to counter threats posed by the rise of China. Partnership reform should accompany a reflection about the role of resilience in NATO’s security and defence portfolio.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.