Building integrity

  • Last updated: 05 Oct. 2016 13:39

Transparent and accountable defence institutions under democratic control are fundamental to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond, and are essential for international security cooperation. Within the framework of its Building Integrity (BI) Programme, NATO works to support Allies and partner countries to promote and implement the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability in accordance with international norms and practices established for the defence and related security sector.


    • The BI Programme is a defence capacity-building programme that contributes to the Alliance’s mission to safeguard the freedom and security of its members. It provides Allies and partner countries with tailored support to reduce the risk of corruption in the defence and related security sector and to embed good governance principles and practices in their defence establishments.  
    • It operates through a NATO Trust Fund led by six nations – Belgium, Bulgaria, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
    • The BI Programme supports the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and related Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, and has integrated a gender perspective into its methodology and practical tools.
    • A NATO Building Integrity policy was endorsed at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw.
  • The Building Integrity toolkit

    The Building Integrity toolkit provides a strategic approach to reducing the risk of corruption in the defence and related security sector with a view to strengthening good governance of defence establishments. It is demand-driven and is tailored to meet national needs and requirements. Activities are open to NATO Allies and partner countries. The toolkit includes:

    • the BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire and Peer Review Process;
    • tailored programmes;
    • education and training activities; and
    • publications.

    The BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire and Peer Review Process

    Completing the voluntary Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) is the first step in the process. Participating countries can complete this diagnostic tool to get a snapshot of their existing procedures and practices in the areas of:

    • democratic control and engagement;
    • national anti-corruption laws and policy;
    • anti-corruption policy in the defence and security sector;
    • personnel code of conduct, policy, training and discipline;
    • planning and budgeting;
    • operations;
    • procurement; and
    • engagement with defence companies and suppliers.

    The SAQ is primarily intended for ministries of defence. However, some participating countries have applied the SAQ to others in the defence and related security sector.

    The completed SAQ is forwarded to the International Staff at NATO Headquarters, responsible for conducting the Peer Review and in-country consultations. A NATO-led expert review team puts forward recommendations, which are coordinated with the country in question (as is the composition of the review team). The SAQ is reviewed with government representatives in order to understand the current situation, exchange views on best practices and on practical steps to strengthen the transparency, accountability and integrity of the defence and security sector. It is strongly recommended that the SAQ and peer reviews be developed with contributions from parliamentarians and the civil society, including non-governmental organisations, media and academics.  

    A Peer Review Report is then prepared on the basis of the completed SAQ and consultations in capitals. The report identifies good practices as well as recommendations for improvement and action. It is intended to help countries develop a BI Action Plan for their ministries of defence and armed forces should they wish to, making use of existing BI and other NATO mechanisms. They are also encouraged to take advantage of expertise from within their own countries so as to promote transparency and build local capacity.

    As of June 2016, 20 countries – 7 Allies and 13 partners – are engaged in the NATO BI Self-Assessment/Peer Review Process, out of which 14 countries have completed the process: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 and Ukraine.

    Where possible, the BI Programme is integrated and aligned with national processes as well as NATO partnership mechanisms, including the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme, the Membership Action Plan, the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process, and – for Afghanistan – the Enduring Partnership. This also includes identifying opportunities to link with other ongoing programmes such as the Professional Development Programme for Georgia and Ukraine.

    Tailored programmes

    Two tailored programmes have been developed to meet the specific needs and requirements of countries in South Eastern Europe as well as Afghanistan: the Tailored BI Programme on South Eastern Europe (SEE) under the auspices of the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial process and the Tailored BI Programme for Building Integrity and Reducing the Risk of Corruption in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).  

    Education and training

    Education and training are key to making and sustaining change and to producing long-term benefits. The BI Education and Training Plan was developed in cooperation with the NATO Military Authorities and agreed by the North Atlantic Council in 2012. Working in cooperation with Allied Command Transformation, the NATO International Staff defines the required capabilities and performance competencies. The Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (CIDS, Norway) is responsible for translating operational requirements into education and training objectives with matching solutions. A Requirements Workshop and a Discipline Conference are held on an annual basis.

    Participating countries are offered a broad spectrum of tailored educational activities in support of their national efforts to meet the objectives of the BI Education and Training Plan. These include residence, online and mobile courses; activities organised periodically and others on demand to address special needs; pre-deployment and professional development training; and “train-the-trainers” events. They are aimed at personnel in the defence and security sector (civilian and military) and can be held in different languages. Some courses are organised directly by the Alliance and others by the NATO BI implementing partners.

    The NATO BI flagship course on “Defence Leadership in Building Integrity” is organised annually at the NATO School at Oberammergau, Germany.


    Publications are regularly produced and distributed by NATO and implementing partners to support the entire process. For instance, “Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: a Compendium of Best Practices” provides a strategic approach to reducing corruption risks. It focuses on practicalities of designing and implementing integrity-building programmes in defence, while taking into account the cultural specifics of defence organisations.

    With the completion of the Self-Assessment and Peer Review Process for Montenegro and Serbia, followed by the adoption of BI Action Plans for their ministries of defence and armed forces, the BI Programme has published two targeted publications for these two countries, and is preparing publications for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia.

    1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
  • Working mechanism

    Building Integrity is a NATO Education and Training Discipline with a governance structure which includes NATO International Staff (IS) as Requirement Authority and the Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (CIDS) under Norway’s Ministry of Defence as Department Head.

    The BI Programme is developed and managed by NATO IS, in close cooperation with NATO Military Authorities, including the NATO International Military Staff (IMS) as well as Allied Command Transformation, Allied Command Operations and subordinated commands. They meet regularly in the framework of a task force meeting led by NATO IS.

    A network of implementing partners drawn from NATO and non-member countries, civil society and other international organisations also contribute to the BI Programme. They provide expert advice, host events and conduct research, analysis and training.

    • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Vienna, Austria
    • Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (CIDS), Norway
    • Defence Resources Management Institute (DRMI), USA
    • EUPOL Mission to Afghanistan
    • Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), Switzerland
    • Ministry of Defence, Bulgaria
    • Ministry of Defence, Norway
    • NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), Germany
    • Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), USA
    • Norwegian Agency for Public Management and Government
    • PfP Training Centre for Governance and Leadership (UK)
    • Turkish PfP Training Centre
    • Peace Support Operations Training Centre (PSOTC), Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Swedish National Defence College
    • Transparency International UK Chapter (TI), United Kingdom

    NATO International Staff also work closely with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Bank and the Kabul Office of the Asian Development Bank. Subject-matter experts drawn from national civilian and defence ministries, international organisations and civil society also provide advice and take an active role in the development and implementation of all aspects of the BI Programme. 

  • Milestones

    • In November 2007, the Building Integrity (BI) Programme was established by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council with the aim to develop institutional capabilities in key areas elaborated in the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building , agreed at the 2004 Istanbul Summit.
    • At the Chicago Summit in 2012, Building Integrity was established as a NATO Education and Training Discipline within the framework of the Allied Command Transformation Global Programming.
    • The 2014 Wales Summit reaffirmed the BI Programme as an integral part of NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative.
    • NATO foreign ministers agreed on a NATO BI policy at their meeting in May 2016; it was noted by NATO defence ministers in June and was endorsed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July.