NATO’s Strategic Concept identifies “cooperative security” as one of NATO’s three essential core tasks. It states that the promotion of Euro-Atlantic security is best assured through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organisations around the globe. These partnerships make a concrete and valued contribution to the success of NATO’s fundamental tasks. Many of NATO’s formal partners as well as other non-member countries offer substantial capabilities and political support for Alliance missions. As of March 2014, over two dozen non-NATO countries were contributing approximately 4,000 troops to NATO-led operations.
A focused effort to reform NATO’s partnerships policy was launched at the Lisbon Summit to make dialogue and cooperation more inclusive, flexible, meaningful and strategically oriented. This resulted in a new partnership policy, which was endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Berlin in April 2011.
The new policy concerns not only partnerships with non-member countries but also NATO’s cooperation with other international actors and organisations. The complexity of today’s peace-support and stabilisation operations and the multifaceted nature of 21st century security challenges call for a comprehensive approach that effectively combines political, civilian and military instruments.