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.
By early 2014, Trust Fund projects across 12 countries have helped to destroy:
- 146 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
- 4.5 million landmines;
- 2 million hand grenades;
- 621,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO);
- 570,000 small arms and light weapons;
- 31,000 tonnes of various munitions, including 8,300 tonnes of cluster sub-munitions (15,5 million sub-munitions);
- 10,000 rockets and missiles;
- 2,620 tonnes of chemicals, including rocket fuel oxidiser (melange);
- more than 1,470 man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).
In addition, some 11,800 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.