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RELEASE: New CAP Foreign Policy Proposal Aims to Prevent Terrorism, International Crime, and State Collapse by Strengthening Legitimate Governance

Washington, D.C. – The Center for American Progress has released a major proposal offering a new approach for U.S. foreign policy that tackles transnational challenges stemming from fragile states before they become full-blown conflicts. Terrorism and transnational crime are rooted in a growing illicit world that threatens U.S. national security. Bad actors take advantage of ungoverned areas and the weakened legitimacy of fragile state governments to perpetuate illegal activity. This undermines their domestic security and the security of the United States and its allies.

The proposal creates a new model of international compacts with states serious about improving their own legitimate governance. The compacts would be specific to each country but would require the integration of U.S. development, security, and economic assistance and serve as a model for other nations and cooperating bodies to follow.

“Terrorist networks, criminal organizations, and transnational threats thrive when legitimate governance is lacking,” said Vikram Singh, CAP Vice President for National Security and International Policy. “In a globalized society, their illicit actions do not remain within the borders of any one country but spread, posing serious threats to U.S. national security. And when illegitimate states collapse, the conflict and consequences can consume neighbors and reach around the world. The United States and G-7 should look to strengthen legitimate governments and functioning societies based on the rule of law and accountability of government. This proposal would help fragile states regain their legitimacy to govern and prevent future conflicts.”

The report, released today, calls on the United States to work with the G-7 to create this as a new joint program. The G-7 nations share similar values when it comes to security, comprise much of the world’s foreign assistance, and are best positioned to provide the kind of aid nations nearing the brink of conflict require. The proposal also requires that nations entering into compacts be willing to build legitimate societies committed to the rule of law, accountable governance, and improved quality of life for their citizens. Under the proposal, the United States and G-7 would work closely with the United Nations and other international institutions with the hope that this becomes a replicable model.

Click here to read the report.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.