Building Integrity

  • Last updated: 23 Mar. 2020 15:01

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 the Building Integrity (BI) Policy and Action Plan, NATO works to support Allies and partner countries to promote good governance and implement the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability, in accordance with international norms and practices established for the defence and related security sector. NATO BI contributes to the three core NATO tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.



  • NATO BI contributes to NATO’s security as well as its efforts to project stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. It provides Allies and partner countries with diagnostic tools and tailored support to strengthen good governance principles and practices, and reduce the risk of corruption in the defence and related security sector.
  • The NATO BI Policy was endorsed at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw and a BI Action Plan covering NATO civilian, military structures and agencies was agreed in December 2016.
  • NATO’s partners in the Euro-Atlantic area as well as Afghanistan, Australia and Colombia are associated with the NATO BI Policy.
  • Implementation of the BI capacity-building activities is supported by voluntary financial contributions to a BI Trust Fund led by Bulgaria, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Phase III will be completed in December 2018.
  • NATO BI works closely with other international organisations, including the United Nations, World Bank and European Union to promote good practices, and is supported by a pool of experts drawn from the public and private sectors, including civil society.
  • Work is underway to prepare BI 2019-2022. As part of the NATO-EU Declaration, the EU has announced its decision to make a financial contribution to the NATO BI Trust Fund.



More background information

  • NATO Building Integrity Policy

    The NATO BI Policy reaffirms NATO’s role as a unique community of nations sharing common values, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The shared lessons learned from the almost 70 years of the Alliance recognise that corruption and poor governance complicate every security challenge confronting the Alliance and undermining peace, security, prosperity and operational effectiveness. The BI Policy endorsed at the Warsaw Summit reaffirms Allies’ conviction that transparent and accountable defence institutions under democratic control are fundamental to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and essential for international security cooperation. BI is an integral part of NATO’s work and is being mainstreamed in NATO’s activities being taken forward by the NATO International Staff, International Military Staff, Military Commands and Agencies.

  • NATO Building Integrity Action Plan

    The BI Action Plan sets the course for a strategic approach to BI and good governance in the defence and related security sector, and identifies concrete steps to make BI applicable across NATO’s political and military lines of activity. The plan aims at developing effective, transparent and accountable defence institutions which are responsive to unpredictable security challenges.

    On request, BI provides tailored support to nations. This practical support is integrated in and aligned with national processes as well as NATO partnership mechanisms, including each partner’s individual programme of cooperation with NATO, the Defence Capacity Building Initiative, the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process and, for Afghanistan, the Enduring Partnership. BI supports NATO’s capacity-building efforts, including the Defence Education Enhancement Programme and professional development programmes for Georgia and Ukraine. The BI methodology and tools also support the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

  • 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 tailored to meet national requirements.

    The toolkit includes:

    • BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and Peer Review Process: Completing the voluntary SAQ is the first step in the process of developing a tailored programme. This diagnostic tool provides nations with a snapshot of their existing procedures and practices in key areas. Nations decide the pace of the process and how information will be shared. A Peer Review Report is prepared on the basis of the completed SAQ and consultations in capitals, identifying good practices as well as recommendations for improvement and action. As of September 2018, 20 countries (9 Allies and 11 partners) are engaged in the Self-Assessment/Peer Review Process: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
    • BI pool of subject matter experts: NATO staff have considerable experience in strengthening integrity, transparency and accountability in the defence and related security sector. To meet demand, this expertise is reinforced by subject matter experts drawn from the public and private sectors from Allied and partner nations. The topics covered by the experts correspond to the areas identified in the SAQ and include management of risks as well as management of financial and personnel resources.  The experts take part in the NATO-led Peer Review Process, contribute to peer-to peer consultations, and capacity building activities including BI courses.
    • BI community of practice: BI capacity building activities are implemented with the support of a growing number of institutional partners: international, regional and national organisations with an interest in promoting good governance in the defence and related security sector. This network includes civilian and military institutions located in Allied and partner nations as well as across NATO structures. Many are engaged in research, advocacy and mainstreaming work, and some conduct BI residential courses and support the development of BI as a NATO discipline. This network of partners is connected online through a dedicated BI website.  

    • Peer-to-peer consultations: Consultations between peers are at the heart of promoting good practices.  BI provides a confidential platform for dialogue, the exchange of experiences and lessons learned on the challenges of managing change and strengthening transparency, accountability and integrity in the defence and related sector. Roundtables and seminars are conducted on a regular basis to promote good practices.  

    • Tailored programmes to build capacity: Tailored programmes are developed on the basis of a nation’s reply to the BI SAQ and regular consultations.  The support offered may include peer-to peer contacts, consultations with subject matter experts, and access to selected courses, and the sharing of best practices. This support is reviewed and calibrated on a regular basis. Many nations have used this process to develop national integrity plans. Under the auspices of the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial process, NATO BI continues to provide a tailored programme to meet the needs of countries in South Eastern Europe and to promote regional cooperation.

    • Education, training and exercises: To help sustain change and produce 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. Educational activities, open to Allies and partners, include residential, mobile and online courses (including a new Online BI awareness course). These activities may also be tailored to the special needs of an individual or group of nations.  The BI Reference Curriculum, developed with the support of the BI community of practice is used by educators to revise and update existing courses.  BI-certified courses are conducted on a global basis and delivered by the Alliance and the network of partners. The NATO BI flagship course on “Defence Leadership in Building Integrity” is conducted annually at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.

    • Promoting good practice: The “Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: a Compendium of Best Practices” provides a strategic approach to reducing corruption risks, focusing on the practicalities of designing and implementing integrity-building programmes in defence. Volume I was launched in 2010. A second volume linking good practices identified through Peer Reviews and the topics set out in the BI Reference Curriculum is under development. BI is also exploring building capacity through joint public-private endeavours and is working closely with interested stakeholders, including the International Forum on Business Ethical Conduct, to identify and promote good practices.
  • Working mechanism

    Implementation of the NATO BI Policy and Action Plan is managed by NATO International Staff through a BI Task Force.  This task force works closely with staff across NATO Headquarters, the NATO Military Authorities, including the NATO International Military Staff, Allied Command Transformation, Allied Command Operations and subordinate commands, as well as NATO Agencies.

    Working in cooperation with Allied Command Transformation, the NATO International Staff defines the required BI-related capabilities and performance competencies. The Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (Norway) is responsible for translating operational requirements into education and training objectives with matching solutions.

    Implementation is supported by a network of partners drawn from NATO and non-member countries: the BI community of practice (see above).

  • Milestones

    • In November 2007, Building Integrity (BI) 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 BI as an integral part of NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative.
    • NATO’s BI Policy was endorsed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016.
    • Taking part in the 2017 BI Conference, the European Union announced its intentions to contribute to the BI Trust Fund, referring to NATO BI “as the partner of choice”.
    • The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute conducted an impact assessment study of the BI Programme covering the 2015-2017 period.
    • At the July 2018 Summit in Brussels, Allied leaders noted the 2017 Report on the Implementation of the NATO BI Policy.
    • On 10 December 2018, NATO and the European Union signed an agreement to cooperate in promoting good governance in the defence and security sector. The EU will contribute 2 million EUR to the BI Trust Fund for 2019-2022.