Relations with Colombia
In 2017, Colombia became one of NATO’s global partners, and the Alliance’s first Latin American partner. Today, NATO and Colombia continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation to address a number of global security challenges, including cyber security, terrorism, the fight against corruption and maritime security. Colombia provides demining training to NATO Allies and partner countries, while NATO is also supporting Colombia in its continuing efforts to develop its armed forces.
- NATO and Colombia have been engaging in dialogue and cooperation since 2013.
- A second Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, signed in May 2019, formalised the recognition of Colombia as a NATO partner and opened access to the full range of cooperative activities that NATO offers to partners. The programme sets out priority areas for dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Colombia.
- NATO and Colombia focus on developing common approaches to global security challenges such as cyber security, maritime security, and terrorism and its links to organised crime as well as supporting peace and security efforts, including human security.
- Colombia provides demining training to NATO Allies and partners through Colombia’s International Demining Centre (CIDES) participation in the network of NATO Partnership Training and Education Centres (PTECs). NATO also supports Colombia in its efforts to build the capacities and capabilities of the Colombian armed forces.
- In 2018, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed then Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as well as then President Iván Duque for the first time to NATO. During high-level talks at NATO Headquarters on 22 January 2021, Colombian Vice Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs Adriana Mejia, Vice Defence Minister for Strategy and Planning Jairo Garcia and NATO representatives decided to extend the bilateral cooperation on issues such as interoperability. An agreement on cooperation and the security of information also entered into force in January 2021.
- NATO also engages more broadly on security challenges facing Latin America. In December 2020, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană attended the Concordia Americas Summit, where political leaders, business innovators and non-governmental representatives discussed how to tackle, together, the challenges facing the Western Hemisphere. In this context, the Deputy Secretary General stressed the value of global partnerships, such as the one NATO shares with Colombia, to manage these issues.
- In December 2021, Colombia and NATO agreed a new framework of cooperation, the Individually Tailored Partnership Programme, marking the beginning of an even closer partnership. Colombia was the first partner to transition into this programme, which covers areas for enhanced cooperation such as interoperability, building integrity, training and education, and climate change and security.
Key areas of cooperation
Colombia's cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:
Building capabilities and interoperability
- Through training, education and exercises, NATO Allies and Colombia seek to develop the interoperability of their armed forces, in line with NATO norms and standards. This will facilitate possible future Colombian participation in United Nations-led operations and missions. Colombian personnel regularly take part in courses at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, and the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. Colombia has also participated in a number of high-level military conferences.
- Colombia also has a lot of expertise to offer in the areas of humanitarian demining, countering improvised explosive devices, counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics. In 2019, this expertise resulted in Colombia joining NATO’s network of Partnership Training and Education Centres (PTECs) with Colombia’s International Demining Centre (CIDES). As part of the PTEC community, CIDES contributes to the education and training of personnel from NATO member and partner countries in the crucial area of humanitarian and military demining. In May 2022, the CIDES hosted the 22nd Annual PTECs Conference of Commandants.
- Since 2013, Colombia's Ministry of Defence has actively participated in the Building Integrity programme, which provides practical assistance and advice for strengthening integrity, accountability and transparency in the defence and security sector.
- Cooperation between NATO and Colombia has been further enhanced notably within the framework of the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme. The aim of this programme is to improve the professionalisation of Colombian military education and to achieve greater interoperability between Colombian and Allied military forces. The areas of cooperation encompass faculty and curriculum development, English language training and testing in accordance with NATO standards and e-learning systems development.
Support for NATO-led operations and missions
- Colombia maintains close collaboration with NATO in the maritime domain to strengthen naval interoperability and information-sharing, including through a liaison officer to NATO’s Allied Maritime Command. In 2015, Colombia supported Ocean Shield, NATO's past maritime operation to counter piracy off the Horn of Africa, with a vessel.
- Colombia and NATO are seeking to develop common approaches to support peace and security efforts, including human security. As of 2023, the country is aligned with NATO’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) policy, which draws from United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on WPS. Additionally, this support has a particular focus on protecting children in armed conflict and civilians during NATO-led operations and missions.
- Colombia participates in NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme and is involved in SPS research and development projects in the fields of counter-terrorism, advanced technology (advanced radars for maritime security) and unexploded ordnance detection and clearance (use of bomb detection robots), as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence. An advanced research workshop took place in the capital Bogota in 2019, focusing on counter-terrorism lessons from maritime piracy and narcotic interdiction.