The tailoring of a country's National Security Strategy

  • Fatima Alqubaisi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Every country has a national security policy although this has historically been undocumented. The last two decades has been an increasing number of countries producing formal national security strategies (NSS), which are published as NSS statements. There is a lack of qualitative research that identifies the actual degree to which the national security strategy statements are tailored for the security environment. This thesis seeks to identify the degree to which the NSS statements are actually tailored to reflect a country's security environment. It does this by examining the NSS statements of several countries and comparing two dimensions of these statements. The first is the structural elements which are the headings of the sections in the strategies. The second is the content elements which are the content underneath the headings of the sections in the strategies. The research approach adopted was to analyze using a content analysis method the NSS statements from five countries that were similar to the UAE in that they are small-medium in size, face regional security problems and are emerging states. The countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro and Serbia. Their NSS statements were analyzed in terms of its structural and content elements but to keep the project manageable in size, only the threats, risks and challenges to national security of the content elements were analyzed. In terms of the structural elements, there was a high degree of similarity across the five national security strategies. So what explains the similarities? This can be explained by the fact that NSS statements are in effect a strategic plan, and as all strategic plans have a similar structure of mission, vision, SWOT etc, it would be expected to find NSS statements having the same elements although they may be named differently. In terms of the content elements containing threats, risks and challenges to national security, there was less but still a significant level of similarities. So the question is why are there similarities? This can be explained by the fact that as the countries are all similar (i.e. they are small-medium, face regional problems, and are emerging states) they have a similar context which consists of facing assertive, larger neighbors; being vulnerable due to their lack of self-sufficiency; and having limited resources to counter threats from larger neighbors. An important finding was also that each country also had unique or little-shared threats, risks and challenges, which reflects the unique circumstances facing each country. Thus the answer to the research question - To what degree are countries' national security strategy statements tailored for their security environment? – is that in terms of (a) structural elements there is little tailoring as these elements are independent of the security context, and for (b) the content element relating to threats, risks and challenges, there is also a significant degree of similarity which while superficially may indicate a lack of tailoring but in reality reflects the shared environment of the selected countries. In terms of implications for the UAE, it suggests that if the UAE was to develop a NSS statement, it would have the common structural elements above, and that the threats, risks and challenges to the national security identified above are highly likely to be of priority for the UAE. However, the UAE's context means that there are unique threats, risks and challenges, and these need to be identified and incorporated into its NSS statement.
Date of AwardJul 2018
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorAthol Yates (Supervisor)


  • National Security
  • National Security Strategy
  • National Security Strategy Statements
  • Security Environment
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Montenegro and Serbia

Cite this