The threat of terrorism does not affect NATO alone. As a result, the fight against terrorism has become an important element of NATO’s cooperation activities with partners around the world.
The contributions by a number of partners to NATO’s operations, as well as their efforts to introduce defence reforms supported by NATO programmes, contribute to the prevention of terrorism. In addition, NATO is cooperating with other international organizations in order to ensure that information is shared and appropriate action can be taken more effectively in the fight against terrorism.
The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T)
NATO and its partners are engaged in practical cooperation programmes within the framework of the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T).
The PAP-T was adopted at the Prague Summit in November 2002 drawing on the spirit of 12 September 2001, when the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) condemned the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. the previous day and offered the support of all 46 EAPC members to the United States.
The Action Plan defines partnership roles as well as instruments to fight terrorism and manage its consequences. For instance, NATO and partner countries work together to improve the safety of air space, including through the exchange of data and coordination procedures related to the handling of possible terrorist threats.
All EAPC countries participate in the PAP-T, and it is open to NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners, as well as other interested countries on a case-by-case basis.
Three informal working groups have been set up under the PAP-T addressing the security of energy infrastructure, border security, as well as financial aspects of terrorism and disruption of terrorist organizations’ sources of finance.
Deepening relations with partners to combat terrorism
Combating terrorism was among the main drivers behind the creation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in May 2002. The common fight against terrorism remains a key aspect of NATO’s dialogue with Russia, as well as a focus of the NRC’s practical cooperation activities. For example, Russia has contributed to the fight against terrorism by participating in Operation Active Endeavour, in 2006 and 2007.
In December 2004, the NRC agreed an Action Plan on Terrorism that laid out areas of cooperation and was subject to regular review. In April 2011, NRC Foreign Ministers approved an updated NRC Action Plan on Terrorism that aims to enhance capabilities to act, individually and jointly, in three critical areas: preventing terrorism, combating terrorist activities and managing the consequences of terrorist acts (for more information, see NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism).
In 2003 the NRC also launched the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) to foster cooperation on airspace surveillance and air traffic coordination, with the underlying goal to enhance confidence-building and to strengthen capabilities required for the handling of situations in which aircraft are suspected of being used as weapons to perpetrate terrorist attacks. The CAI system became operational in 2011.
Relations with Mediterranean Dialogue partners have also deepened, including through contributions to Operation Active Endeavour.
Furthermore, at the Istanbul Summit in June 2004, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to reach out to countries in the broader Middle East region, widening NATO’s network of partnerships in order to facilitate the fight against terrorism.
NATO has also reinforced its relations with partners across the globe. These are countries that are not NATO members but they share similar security concerns and have expressed an interest in developing relations with the Alliance through individual partnership relations. They comprise countries such as Australia, Mongolia, Japan, New Zealand, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea. Their level of involvement with NATO varies, as do the areas of cooperation.
Increasing cooperation with other international organizations
NATO is also working to deepen its relations with the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations to strengthen efforts in fighting terrorism.
With regard to cooperation with the United Nations, NATO works with affiliated bodies such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, its Executive Directorate and the Security Council Committee 1540. It has also established contacts with the UN on its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and works closely with the UN agencies that play a leading role in responding to international disasters and in consequence management – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – as well as other organizations.
NATO also exchanges views with the OSCE’s Transnational Threat Department’s Action against Terrorism Unit.
Working with aviation authorities
The use of civilian aircraft as a weapon on 11 September 2001 led NATO to heighten awareness of such forms of terrorism and enhance aviation security. NATO’s efforts in this field include improving civil-military coordination of air traffic control by working with EUROCONTROL, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the US Federal Aviation Authority, major national aviation and security authorities, airlines and pilot associations and the International Air Transport Association so that information is shared and action taken more effectively.
Training and education
NATO offers a range of training and education opportunities in the field of counter-terrorism to both Allies and partner countries. It can draw on a wide network that includes the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, the NATO Defence College in Rome, Italy and the Centres of Excellence (COEs) that support the NATO command structure. Currently, there are 19 COEs, 16 of which have been fully accredited by NATO. Several of the COEs have a link to the fight against terrorism, in particular the Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara. The Centre of Excellence for Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) has served as both a location and catalyst for international dialogue and discussion regarding defence against terrorism issues. The COE-DAT has established links with over 50 countries and 40 organizations to provide subject matter expertise on terrorism.
“Defence Against Terrorist Threats” is one of two key priorities under the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme. The aim of the SPS Programme is to enhance security, stability, solidarity and support among NATO and partner nations by providing the best scientific technical expertise to help solve issues of mutual concern. The sub-elements of the “Defence Against Terrorist Threats” priority include such topics as: defensible methods of fuel, supply and personnel transportation; medical counter measures for non-CBRN terrorist attacks; explosives detection; computer terrorism countermeasures, cyber defence (i.e. the defence of communication and information systems (CIS)) and computer network exploitation by terrorists; the study of human factors in defence against terrorism; and border and port security (technology, systems approach and data fusion, intelligent borders, counter-proliferation).
The “Defence Against Terrorist Threats” activities under the SPS Programme involve a variety of mechanisms, including workshops, training courses and multi-year research and development projects. A few examples of the activities initiated under this priority area include, but are not limited to:
- New biosensors for rapid and accurate detection of anthrax;
- New technology for detection of "dirty bombs";
- Technologies for cargo container inspection;
- Advanced techniques for bio-weapon defence;
- Technology for stand-off detection of explosives (including the suicide bomber case);
- Treatments for nerve agent poisoning;
- Human and social aspects of terrorist activity (including root causes, social and psychological aspects of terrorism, use of the internet as a tool for recruitment, and the “intangibles of security”); and
- Protecting information networks from terrorist attacks.
The “Defence Against Terrorist Threats” element of the SPS Programme has been successful in bringing together scientists and experts from NATO and partner countries, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the terrorist threat, the development of detection and response measures, as well as fostering an effective network of experts in key fields.
In addition, the 2010-2012 Action Plan for the NATO-Russia Council SPS Committee has identified the following three areas for cooperation between NATO and Russia under the SPS key priority of “Defence Against Terrorist Threats”:
I) Explosives Detection: consisting of cooperative scientific research that will lead to better detection of both trace and bulk explosives. The most prominent example of this endeavour is the Stand-Off Detection of Explosives project, popularly called the STANDEX Programme;
II) Information Technology-based Threats: cooperative research geared towards strengthening the security of systems that are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The objective of this initiative is to create a better understanding of how terrorists use information technology; and
III) The Study of Human Factors in Defence Against Terrorism: a dynamic and unconventional attempt to understand the motivations of terrorism from a social science perspective. In this context, the experience of the Virtual Forum provides an innovative platform for further discussion and research.
This work will continue to be a core priority of the Science for Peace and Security Programme for the foreseeable future (www.nato.int/science ).