Partnership Trust Funds

  • Last updated: 20 Jan. 2015 14:50

Through NATO, individual Allies and partners develop Trust Funds to implement practical demilitarizations and defence transformation projects in non-NATO countries.


  • Trust Funds promote the safe destruction of surplus and obsolete landmines, weapons and munitions
  • They contribute to capacity-building in areas such as demining and munitions stockpile management
  • They also support the retraining and transition to civilian life of former military personnel
  • Specific Trust Funds are established for each project to allow individual NATO and partner countries to provide financial support on a voluntary basis
  • Projects are open to all NATO partner countries

Trust Fund projects assist principally with the safe destruction of stockpiles of surplus and obsolete landmines, weapons and munitions. Another priority is to help manage the consequences of defence transformation through initiatives such as the retraining of former military personnel and converting military bases to civilian use. Projects include activities promoting transparency, accountability and gender mainstreaming.

The Trust Fund policy is an integral part of NATO’s policy of developing practical security cooperation with partners. Any partner country with an individual programme of partnership and cooperation with NATO may request assistance. A specific Trust Fund is then established to allow individual NATO and partner countries to provide financial support on a voluntary basis.

Originally, Trust Funds were developed in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme – NATO’s programme of practical bilateral cooperation with non-member countries in Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. However, over the years, use of Trust Funds has been extended to countries of the Mediterranean and broader Middle East region, which participate in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as to Afghanistan. More recently, with the launch of NATO’s new partnership policy at the April 2011 meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Berlin, the Trust Fund mechanism was also opened to NATO’s other partners across the globe.

Achievements by early 2015:

  • 162,000,000 Rounds of Ammunition
  • 4,500,000 Anti-Personnel Landmines
  • 2,000,000 Hand Grenades
  • 640,000 Unexploded Ordnance
  • 626,000 Small Arms & Light Weapons
  • 33,500 Tonnes of various Ammunition including 8,300 tonnes of cluster sub-munitions (15,500,000 sub-munitions)
  • 10,000 Surface-to-Air Missiles & Rockets
  • 1,470 MANPADS
  • 2,620 Tonnes of Melanj
  • 2,160 Hectares cleared

In addition, some 12 000 former military personnel in three countries have received retraining assistance through Trust Fund defence transformation projects.

The destruction of surplus stockpiles of arms and munitions reduces the threat to individual partner countries as well as the wider region. It also ensures that such materials are put beyond the reach of terrorists and criminals.

  • Project development

    Projects may be initiated by either NATO member states or partner countries. Each project is led on a voluntary basis by a lead nation, which is responsible for gathering political and financial support for the project as well as selecting the executing agent for the project. There can be several lead nations, and a partner country can also take that role. The beneficiary host nation is expected to provide maximum support to the project within its means.

    Informal discussions with the NATO International Staff help determine the scope of the project. Project proposals set out in detail the work to be undertaken, the costs involved and the implementation schedule. The formal launch of a project is the trigger to start raising funds. Subject to completion of formal legal agreements, work can start once sufficient funds have been received.

    Trust Fund projects seek to ensure adherence to the highest environmental, health and safety standards, and recycling of materials is an integral part of many projects. Local facilities and resources are used to implement projects, where possible, so as to build local capacity in the partner countries concerned, ensuring sustainability.

    NATO cooperates actively with other international organisations and other relevant actors on Trust Fund projects to ensure coherence and effectiveness, as well as to avoid duplication of efforts. For example, NATO has cooperated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which was, for instance, the executing agent for the retraining Trust Fund projects in the Balkans; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which also implemented a NATO-initiated Trust Fund in Tajikistan; the European Commission (EC); and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

  • Project oversight and implementation

    The NATO Support Agency (NSPA) – formerly the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) –plays an essential role in the development and implementation of Trust Fund projects. It offers technical advice and a range of management services and has often been appointed to act as the executing agent for demilitarization projects by lead nations. This involves overseeing the development of project proposals as well as the competitive bidding process to ensure transparency and value for money in the execution of projects.

    Once the project proposal is agreed by the lead nation and the host nation, it is presented to the Political and Partnerships Committee in EAPC (Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) format. This body serves as a formal forum to discuss the project and attract potential support and resources.

  • Evolution of Trust Fund policy

    The Trust Fund policy was established in September 2000 to assist Euro-Atlantic partner countries in the safe destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel landmines. It provided the Alliance with a practical mechanism to assist partners to meet their obligations under the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and their destruction.

    Initial success in the safe destruction of anti-personnel landmines led to an extension of the policy to include conventional munitions, as well as small arms and light weapons. In recent years, the scope of the Trust Fund policy has been further expanded to support wider defence transformation initiatives. It has also been extended geographically and is now open to all partner countries participating in NATO’s structured partnership frameworks – Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council/Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative –as well as partners across the globe.

    The implementation of the Trust Fund policy includes measures and activities related to the adoption of best practices, and to the commitment of promoting transparency and good governance. In this context, NATO strives to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on gender mainstreaming in its projects.