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Zachary Paikin

Zachary Paikin

Senior Fellow


Dr. Zachary Paikin is Senior Researcher in the International Security Dialogue Department at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). He is also a part-time Research Fellow in the Grand Strategy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington, DC.

Paikin is currently a Senior Fellow affiliated with IPD. From 2021 to 2023, he was a Non-Resident Research Fellow at IPD, obtaining several research grants and overseeing much of the Institute’s activities pertaining to Canadian foreign policy and European security.  During this time, he was also a Researcher in EU Foreign Policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels.

Since 2022, Paikin has served as chair of the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN). He is also a collaborator with the Network for Strategic Analysis, funded by the Canadian Department of National Defence. He was previously a member of the Cooperative Security Initiative, a project supported by the OSCE secretariat, and was a speechwriter at Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York as part of the Canadian government’s bid for a UN Security Council seat in 2020.

Paikin holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. His research, which focuses on Russian foreign policy, European security, great power relations and international order, has been published by leading think tanks including the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), LSE IDEAS, the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), and the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute. He was named a GLOBSEC Young Leader in 2019.

Paikin was a contributing author to Marginalisé : réflexions sur l’isolement du Canada dans les relations internationales (published by Presses de l’Université Laval in 2022) and is co-editor of Rebooting Global International Society: Change, Contestation and Resilience (published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2022).

From This Expert


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Le grand nord : une politique étrangère canadienne qui place l'intérêt national au premier plan
Dans le contexte de l'instabilité et des changements mondiaux, cet article vise à susciter une conversation...
The Russia-Ukraine War at Two: A Critical Appraisal of Western Policy
Senior Fellow Zachary Paikin writes that "although the EU has demonstrated growing aspirations in the...
Balancing Competing Priorities in Canadian Foreign Policy
Europe, the Arctic and Asia: Balancing Competing Priorities in Canadian Foreign Policy
This compendium brings together scholars as well as current and former practitioners to deliberate how...
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True North: A Canadian Foreign Policy That Puts the National Interest First
Against the backdrop of global change and instability, this paper aims to launch a national conversation...
Canada Should Look North to Refocus Foreign Policy — and Regain Lost Middle-Power Status
In a new piece co-published with IRPP, IPD Senior Fellow Zachary Paikin argues that Canada should set...
500 Days of Russia's War: NATO, Europe, and the New Great Power Competition
Published in advance of NATO’s pivotal July 2023 summit in Vilnius, this brief compendium analyzes the...
Zachary Paikin for Responsible Statecraft — Where Has U.S. Leverage With Russia Gone?
Much of the problem is that Washington has been averse to addressing Moscow’s relationship to the European...
Zachary Paikin for Quincy Institute — The Ukraine War & European Security: How Durable Is America’s Strategy?
In a guest contribution for the Quincy Institute, Research Fellow Zachary Paikin writes that "a militarily...
In Search of a European Security Order After the Ukraine War
A more inclusive European security order will not emerge immediately from the ashes of the war in Ukraine....
Zachary Paikin for the European Leadership Network — Xi's Visit to Moscow
The war has thus given Beijing a unique opportunity to deepen Russia’s dependence on China, which in...
Zachary Paikin for Policy Magazine: Canadian Foreign Policy in a Shifting World
For Policy Magazine, Research Fellow Zachary Paikin examines how a changing world order may necessitate...
Zachary Paikin for ISPI: The Case for Diplomacy in Ukraine - Creating the Space for a ‘Fourth Option’
One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there remains no end to the war in sight. For ISPI, Zachary...
Zachary Paikin for JOINT - The South China Sea and Indo-Pacific in an Era of "Multipolar" Competition: A More Targeted EU Response?
European foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific could "nurture" the Union's strategic autonomy by establishing...
After the Ukraine War: Confronting the Problem of International Order
Research Fellow Zachary Paikin published an article for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy examining...
The “Freeland Doctrine” and Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: Between Isolation and Confusion
For a country that has not undertaken a comprehensive foreign policy review in nearly two decades, Canada...
New Book Co-edited by Zachary Paikin: Rebooting Global International Society
Research Fellow Zachary Paikin co-edited a volume with Trine Flockhart for Palgrave Macmillan featuring...
Zachary Paikin in The National Observer: Does the World Really Need More Canada?
A new era calls for a new approach to how Canada interacts with the world. Foreign policy analysts have...
Canada and Europe: Untangling Interests and Values?
On September 15, 2022, IPD convened the second roundtable of its “Canada’s Interests in a Shifting Order”...
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Canada’s Dilemma: China and the 'Rules-Based International Order'
In spite of recent tensions in the Canada-China relationship, Ottawa would be wise to adopt a posture...
From the Atlantic to the Pacific: A New Strategic Posture for Canada
Reduced policy options now constrain Canada’s ability to pursue its national interests, even as the international...
Europe’s ‘Unity’ for the Sake of ‘Unity’ Against Russia is Misguided
The foreign policy of the Western states has been reduced to rhetorical appeals to the ‘rules-based order’...
Canada’s Foreign Policy: End of an Era?
A worldview centred on ideological considerations would worsen Canada’s dependence on the US following...
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AUKUS and “Rules-Based Order”: Change and Continuity in Great Power Relations in 2021
The withdrawal from Afghanistan and efforts at forging a “stable and predictable” relationship with Russia...
Zachary Paikin in the Globe and Mail: A More Independent Canadian Foreign Policy Requires Embracing Bilingualism
IPD Research Fellow, Zachary Paikin wrote an article with Jean Charest and Stephanie Chouinard for the...
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Beyond Meng and the Two Michaels: Arresting Canada’s International Decline
Canada’s interests are distinct from those of its southern neighbour. While Ottawa may have an interest...
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After the Election: Three Options for Canada’s Foreign Policy
The status quo posture in Canadian foreign policy is, quite frankly, not a viable long-term option.
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Zachary Paikin In The Hub: Afghanistan and the Death of the Liberal World Order
The post-Cold War era has been marked by a Western effort to construct a liberal world order. In truth,...
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European Security in a Shifting Global Order
European security issues are often framed in binary fashion, along the lines of the rivalry between Russia...
Canada and the Great Power Triangle in the 2020s
If Canada wants to become a player that is taken seriously on the world stage, a more decisive approach...
Is Canada Still a Middle Power?
In part due to its underinvestment in Asia in a decade where the Sino-American rivalry will take centre...
Revisiting Canada-Russia Relations: A New Paradigm for a Multipolar World
Bordering three of Canada’s four cardinal vectors, Russia will present strategic challenges – and opportunities...


Nov 21 Panel — True North A Canadian Foreign Policy That Puts the National Interest First
Panel — True North: A Canadian Foreign Policy That Puts the National Interest First
Panel — The Ukrainian Counteroffensive: Prospects and Scenarios
April 27 Panel Defending North America After Putin's War in Ukraine (2)
Panel — Defending North America After Putin's War in Ukraine
Panel — Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: Short- and Long-Term Implications for Canada
Panel — The Ukraine-Russia War: Prospects for De-Escalation
Panel — Russia-West Tensions Over Ukraine: Is There a Diplomatic Solution?
Panel — Russia’s Buildup Near Ukraine: What Are Canada’s Interests and Options?
Panel — How Will Strained Ties With China Affect Multiculturalism in Canada?
Nov 1
Panel — China's Place in Canada's Vision of a "Rules-Based Order"
Panel — After the Two Michaels: How Should Canada Navigate the U.S.-China Rivalry?
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Panel — Rethinking Canada's Contribution to European Security
Panel — A Multi-Partisan Consensus on Canada's National Interests?

In the Press

Zachary Paikin for The Hub — Canada’s Leaders Must Take the Dangers of Diaspora Politics Seriously
Zachary Paikin on Global News — Russia-Ukraine War Two-Year Anniversary
Zachary Paikin on Global News — Canada and the Latest on the War in Ukraine
Zachary Paikin on Voices from Brussels: EU NATO Rapprochement – for Better or for Worse?
Zachary Paikin on iAffairs: The European Union: Current Challenges and Future Developments
Zachary Paikin on CBC's Sunday Magazine: Canada-Russia Relations
Zachary Paikin on TRT World: The UN, Ukraine and Russia
Zachary Paikin on Al Jazeera: What compromises will Russia and Ukraine make to end the war?
Zachary Paikin on Radio-Canada: Ukrainian President's speech to the Canadian Parliament
Zachary Paikin on Radio-Canada: Update on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Zachary Paikin on Radio Canada on US withdrawal from Afghanistan
Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  


Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security


Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.


Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.



Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 


Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 



Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.


Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.


Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.



Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor