Building Integrity

  • Last updated: 15 Apr. 2024 14:32

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, BI works to support NATO as an organisation, Allies and partner countries to promote good governance and implement the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability, in 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 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 Warsaw Summit. It acknowledges that corruption has an impact on peace and security and undermines the effectiveness of operations and missions.
  • A first BI Action Plan was developed to implement the BI Policy within NATO, Allies and partner countries, and to enhance the cooperation with international partners on good governance and integrity. A new Action Plan for the next four-year period was approved in February 2021.
  • A Military Concept of Building Integrity in Operations, developed by the NATO Military Authorities, was approved in February 2021. Its purpose is to ensure that military lines of effort account for, and mitigate, the risks posed by corruption throughout all stages of the planning and conduct of NATO-led operations and missions.
  • Partners of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council have contributed to the development of the NATO BI Policy and are associated it. Afghanistan, Australia and Colombia are also associated with the BI Policy.  
  • Phase IV (2019-2023) of the BI Initiative of the Partnership Trust Fund is led by Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the European Union who meet in the format of the NATO BI Advisory Group.
  • In December 2018, NATO and the European Union agreed to enhance their cooperation in promoting good governance in the defence and related security sector. The EU has contributed two million EUR to the BI Trust Fund and with in-kind contribution (expertise).
  • NATO BI also works closely with the United Nations, World Bank, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the African Union as well as the private sector, academia and representatives from the civil society.


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 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 by the Heads of State and Government 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 BI methodology and tools support the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. BI also contributes to implement national and international obligations in the domain of good governance and the fight against corruption, such as national anti-corruption strategies or the UN Convention against Corruption.


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 January 2021, 20 countries (9 Allies and 11 partners) are engaged in the Self-Assessment and Peer Review Process: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, 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 integrity, transparency and accountability in the defence and related security 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 August 2012. Educational activities, open to Allies and partners, include residential, mobile and online courses (including a new Online BI awareness course) and Train-the-Trainers programmes. 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” (2010) provides a strategic approach to reducing corruption risks, programmes in defence and related security sector. 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 – which has recognised Building Integrity as one of its 27 NATO Educational Disciplines – the NATO International Staff defines the required BI-related capabilities and performance competencies. The BI Discipline defines training needs and requirements; coordinates training solutions; and provides a wide range of educational and training opportunities, including at faculty level.

As Department Head of the NATO BI Discipline, the Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector under the Norwegian Ministry of Defence is responsible for coordinating training and education solutions to identified training needs and requirements established by the NATO BI Team in its capacity of NATO BI Requirement Authority.

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



  • expand timeline

    • 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.
    • In August 2012, further to the NAC agreement, the 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.
    • The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute conducted an impact assessment study of the BI Programme covering the 2015-2017 period.
    • At the 2018 Summit in Brussels, Allied leaders noted the 2017 Report on the Implementation of the NATO BI Policy.
    • In December 2018, NATO and the EU signed an agreement to enhance their cooperation in promoting good governance in the defence and related security sector. As part of this agreement, the European Union is a member of the NATO BI Steering Group, contributes two million EUR to the NATO BI Trust Fund for 2019-2022 and the two organisations enhance experiences and expertise sharing in the domain of good governance and integrity.
    • The 2019 Report of the Implementation of the BI Policy was noted by NATO Foreign Ministers in June 2020
    • The new BI Action Plan was noted by NATO Defence Ministers in February 2021
    • The Military Concept of BI in Operations was agreed by the North Atlantic Council in February 2021.