Relations with Australia
NATO and Australia are strengthening relations to address shared security challenges such as cyber defence, hybrid threats and resilience, and to contribute to upholding the rules-based international order. They also cooperate as part of NATO’s broader relations with its partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia is an active contributor to NATO Mission Iraq as an operational partner.
- NATO and Australia have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2005.
- In a joint political declaration in June 2012, NATO and Australia signalled their commitment to strengthening cooperation. From 2013, cooperation was taken forward through an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme. Currently, the relationship is guided by the NATO-Australia Individually Tailored Partnership Programme that was agreed in July 2023.
- Priorities in NATO-Australia relations include upholding the rules-based international order, promoting mutual understanding of global security issues, enhancing interoperability between NATO and Australia, and engaging on issues of common interest, including cyber defence; hybrid threats; resilience; Women, Peace and Security; and new technologies. Australia also participates in NATO Mission Iraq as an operational partner.
- Cooperation is underpinned by regular high-level political dialogue, including an annual bilateral Strategic Dialogue. Australia is an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, alongside Georgia, Jordan, Sweden and Ukraine.
- Australia is one NATO's partners in the Indo-Pacific region, together with Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The Indo-Pacific region is important for the Alliance, given that developments in that region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security.
Key areas of cooperation
Australia's cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and covers many common security challenges, including:
- Building capabilities and interoperability: Since 2014, under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Australia has been participating in the Interoperability Platform, which brings Allies together with selected partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations. Australia is also one of five countries that have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunities Partners’) in recognition of their particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives. To deepen interoperability, Australia participates in committee work on issues such as logistics, information-sharing among operational partners, aviation, codification and armaments cooperation, where Australia works with NATO on capability development in the land, maritime and air domains. Australia is also regularly involved in NATO military exercises open to partners.
- New technologies and energy security: In the framework of NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme, leading areas of practical cooperation with Australia include emerging and disruptive technologies and energy security. Notably, experts from Australia are participating in a top-down project aiming to increase energy efficiency in deployable camps and reduce fossil fuels consumption.
- Trust Funds: Australia contributed to a number of NATO Trust Fund projects, including a project designed to clear unexploded ordnance in Saloglu, Azerbaijan (2010) and the Ukraine Medical Rehabilitation Trust Fund.
- At the 2021 NATO Summit in Brussels, Allies agreed to increase dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and existing partners, including Australia as one of the partners in the Indo-Pacific region. This commitment was reiterated in the NATO 2022 Strategic Concept, the Alliance’s core policy document. Cooperation with partners in this region is key to addressing the increasingly complex global security environment, including Russia’s war on Ukraine, the shift in the global balance of power and the rise of China, and the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
- In June 2022, the Prime Minister of Australia participated in the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid together with the Leaders of other partners from the Indo-Pacific region (Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand). This was the first-ever participation of Australia in a NATO summit. In July 2023, the country participated in its second meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government, at the 2023 Vilnius Summit.
- In April 2022 and April 2023, Australia also participated in the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meetings.
- Australia also regularly participates in meetings at NATO Headquarters between NATO Allies and the four partners in the Indo-Pacific region at the level of Ambassadors. Recent meetings have focused on climate change and security, arms control, and maritime security.
Support for NATO-led operations and missions
- Both NATO and Australia are members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Australia also participates as one of the operational partners in NATO Mission Iraq, a non-combat advisory and capacity-building mission launched in July 2018 that aims to strengthen Iraqi security institutions and forces so that they are able to prevent the return of ISIS, fight terrorism and stabilise their country.
- Australia and NATO also work together to strengthen maritime security. Australia is an operational partner for NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian. The Australian navy also cooperated with NATO to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia as part of the past operation Ocean Shield.
- Over almost a decade, Australia was one of the largest non-NATO troop contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which completed its mission in 2014. As part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan, Australian personnel provided security and delivered reconstruction and community-based projects. Additionally, Australia’s Special Operations Task Group operated in direct support of ISAF elements in Uruzgan Province. From 2015 until spring 2021, Australia supported NATO’s follow-on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions. Australia was also a leading contributor to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, having donated USD 680 million to the fund.