Maritime Non-state Actors: A Challenge for the Royal Canadian Navy?

David Rudd


Global security and prosperity depends in part on good order at sea, with its attendant flow of licit maritime commerce. While challenges to that order have existed since the earliest sea-farers, new players have emerged in recent decades that inhibit the ability of nation-states to regulate domestic and international maritime activity.

This paper is intended to provide a brief exploration of the nature of maritime non-state actors (MNSAs) and the challenge they pose to national and international maritime security. It will examine the types and motivations of MNSAs and identify some of the ways in which a navy may interact with them. In doing so it will help to shape decision-making on how allied navies in general and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in particular might theoretically align their capability-development efforts with these trends. As the paper is intended to be an overview of a complex and evolving phenomenon, it proceeds from the premise that the strategic/policy, doctrinal, and tactical questions raised herein will require more study.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.