NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

03 Nov. 2005

“Addressing Global Insecurity”

Speech by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. I have made it a rule that, whenever my calendar permits, I will try to combine my official visits with meetings like this one. Many here, as future diplomats, will be playing a critically important role in shaping policy. And as young people, it is your future which will be determined by how the world develops. So I look at this meeting not only as a more relaxed item on my programme, but as a dialogue with those most affected by political decisions today.

I am here today to talk about NATO’s role in addressing global security challenges. In just a few minutes, I want to set out for you the rationale for NATO’s current approach, and the “added value” that we bring to the international community’s efforts. And when I say “we”, I also mean Austria . Because Austria , though not a NATO member, and NATO fully respects this Austrian position, is a highly valued partner and makes important contributions to NATO’s operations. But since I strongly believe that action speaks louder than words, let me start by giving you a flavour of some of the things that NATO has been doing lately.

  • In July, NATO started to airlift African Union troops to the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur .
  • Later during the summer, we stepped up our military presence in Afghanistan , to provide security for the Parliamentary elections.
  • Last month, I went to Iraq to inaugurate the Ar Rustamiyah training centre near Baghdad , where NATO trains Iraqi security forces.
  • That same month, my staff and I went to New York , where we discussed with Kofi Annan how to enhance relations between NATO and the United Nations.
  • Shortly thereafter I visited Egypt , as the last of the seven countries in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue process, to discuss ways to further enhance our relationship.
  • After the earthquake in Pakistan a few weeks ago, NATO quickly launched a major relief operation, in particular airlifting most needed goods and equipment to the disaster area.
  • Two weeks ago, the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s top political body, visited Ukraine , where we discussed that country’s aspirations to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures
  • And this morning, here in Vienna , I addressed the Council of the OSCE, making the case for stronger relations between the OSCE and NATO.

All these activities that I just listed relate to each other. They all follow a common logic – a logic that is best expressed in the title of my lecture here today: “addressing global insecurity”.

Simply put, in a world that is characterised by globalisation, we not only have to adjust our thinking on economics, technology, energy, or culture. We also need to adjust our thinking on security. Why? Because security threats, too, have globalised. “9/11” was a case in point. These attacks were led by Saudis, based in Afghanistan , with a foothold in Germany , who trained in Africa before striking in the US . This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the dark side of globalisation.

The same holds true for “failed states” – states without strong governance that plunge into disorder and violence. Indeed, the very term “failed states” has been added to our vocabulary only a few years ago. By now, it has become a household term. Because we have seen that failing states can quickly become a threat to international security, be it by exporting drugs, or by becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

Last but not least, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Thanks to a lot of political and diplomatic effort, the spread of these weapons has proceeded only slowly. But with a new breed of terrorists willing to inflict mass casualties on our societies, non proliferation has acquired a new sense of urgency.

So what conclusions are we to draw from this new security environment? What should an effective security strategy look like? Let me give you a few pointers.

First, I believe that any security strategy today has to be a strategy of engagement. A passive, reactive approach may have been alright during the Cold War. It clearly has become insufficient now. Either we tackle the challenges to our security when and where they emerge, or they will end up on our doorstep.

Second, we need to look at security today in a holistic fashion. In an age where security challenges have become multi-dimensional, our responses must be multi-dimensional as well. This means that we have to apply political, economic, military and development cooperation instruments in a concerted approach – an approach that must also include development cooperation.

This brings me directly to my third point: any viable security strategy today must be a strategy of institutional teamwork. No single institution, let alone a single nation, possesses all the necessary means for effective security management. Only through institutional cooperation will the full range of instruments be available to us.

My fourth point: a strategy of engagement requires not only a variety of instruments, but also patience in applying them. If we engage – in the Balkans, in Afghanistan , or elsewhere – we need to keep up our engagement. If we want to change things for the better, we need to do more than provide military security. We also need to assist in creating the political and economic conditions for long-term stability.

Which brings me to my fifth and final point: a truly effective strategy of engagement, one that has a lasting impact, must be a strategy that is firmly based on values. Democracy and freedom, human rights and religious tolerance are key principles that we must never compromise. They are not only permanent fixtures of our way of life, they also provide our security policies with a moral compass.

These, in my view, are some of the key underlying principles for a strategy that seeks to address global insecurity. And I believe they explain why NATO is so busy, and why this Alliance is in such strong demand. Because NATO is able to make a unique contribution to such a broad strategy of engagement – not as a “global policeman”, of course, but by making available certain political and military assets in a way no other international institution can.

One very strong asset is our membership. NATO brings together North America and much of Europe . This is the strongest community of like-minded nations–the nexus of democracy, pluralism, market economy, and technological innovation. Above all, this community shares a unique sense of solidarity – an awareness that we are bound together not only by a common past, but also by a common future.

In NATO, these nations sit around the same table, as equal members, trying to find consensus and develop common approaches. This does not rule out occasional disagreements – as we saw with Iraq . But in the end, the culture of compromise and the habits of cooperation always prove stronger than our disagreements.

This deep-rooted sense of common purpose has enabled NATO to engage in some of the most demanding operations, and to carry on even if the obstacles seemed insurmountable at times. This unique staying power is something that only a permanent Alliance can give you. It is a tremendous political asset – and something that we must preserve.

Another major asset of NATO is its military competence. NATO has a multinational military structure that allows us to translate political decisions by our 26 member states into concrete military action. Whether the decision is about protecting our homelands, deploying peacekeepers or addressing a humanitarian disaster, NATO can count on a well-trained, creative and flexible military.

Indeed, over the last few years, we have asked a lot of our men and women in uniform. NATO’s forces are engaged in demanding operations, from the Balkans to the Hindukush. We are conducting an anti-terrorist naval operation in the Mediterranean , and we have a training mission in Iraq . We are flying African Union troops to Darfur . And we are flying humanitarian aid to Pakistan . This is a tall order. You have to have a well-oiled , sizeable and well-equipped military machinery to do all that. Above all, you have to be working in a team of likeminded nations, a team in which risks and costs are shared.

A third and final asset of NATO is its vast network of partnerships. Over the past 15 years, NATO has developed political and military relations with dozens of countries in Europe and beyond. In many operations, forces of our partner countries deploy alongside those of NATO. These partnerships have thus created a cooperative momentum that has never before existed on this continent.

We are now broadening this cooperation further, by enhancing our cooperation with countries from Northern Africa and the Middle East , and by building new ties with countries from the Gulf region. And we are reaching out to other important players, such as Australia , New Zealand and Japan .

The next big challenge ahead of us is to build more structured relationships with other international organisations. Here, too, we have already made considerable strides. We are about to open a new chapter in our relationship with the United Nations. Our cooperation with the OSCE, in the Balkans as well as Afghanistan , also gives us reasons for optimism. Above all, we need to build a true strategic partnership with the European Union. We need to aim for a relationship that allows NATO and the EU to discuss and coordinate their approaches not only with respect to the Balkans, but across the full spectrum of today’s security challenges.

NATO, UN, OSCE, EU – each of these institutions has its unique set of competences. And the closer we work together – the better we coordinate our policies – the more effective we will be.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in an era of global challenges. Old security concepts no longer apply. We have to find new solutions to new problems. Sometimes, we may have to improvise. Sometimes we will make mistakes, and we will have to learn from those mistakes. Yet one thing is clear: to safeguard our security today, we have to engage. And that means that we have to project and promote stability.

I am aware that not everyone might agree with this. For some, indifference may seem less risky than engagement. Some people may feel that they can afford to look away or concentrate on their immediate neighbourhood. You, as future diplomats, do not have that option. Because you understand, better than many others, that in an age of globalisation no walls, mountains or even oceans can offer protection. A strategy of engagement, guided by our values, is the only feasible way to approach global insecurity. As an Alliance with unique political and military assets, NATO is bound to play a major part in any such strategy.

Thank you.

Last updated: 04-Nov-2008 02:01