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Policy report

The Five Eyes grouping is the oldest and most integrated international security partnership in modern history. In practice, it is an amalgamation of many smaller, often informal, joint meetings, operations and exchanges arranged around specific national security, law enforcement and strategic issues. Practical, issues-based cooperation based on working-level engagement and trust has allowed Five Eyes to grow in an organic way.

However, the challenges facing Five Eyes nations, and the liberal international order they support, demand that the grouping moves to a new era of cooperation that is more expansive, coordinated and strategic. If it can achieve this, Five Eyes could form the nucleus for a wider concert of democratic nations; a type of coalition that many have argued is essential to fortifying the liberal order against the security challenges of the 21st century.

Key points:

  • Five Eyes has been a primarily operational grouping, but it is starting to broaden collaboration – particularly to address COVID-19 recovery.
  • Five Eyes needs new planning structures if it is to undertake more concerted, strategic initiatives.
  • To address the greatest security challenges to the liberal international order, like-minded nations must collaborate on new frontiers – including geoeconomics, cyber and critical technologies, and strategic diplomacy.
  • There is momentum for a broader coalition of democracies (like a ‘D-10’) to address these global challenges, but there are major barriers to the formation and success of such a group.
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Policy Options Paper 16