Nato-Russia Council

Counter Terrorism Cooperation: 10 Years 10 Stories Anniversary feature

In the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, there was common recognition by Russia and all NATO nations that terrorism posed a serious threat to people across the Euro-Atlantic region and beyond. A common awareness developed between NATO and Russia that this threat would be better faced by working together, pooling expertise and resources. This served as an impetus for deepening NATO-Russia cooperation, leading to the signing in Rome in 2002 of the joint declaration on NATO-Russia relations, thereby creating the NATO-Russia Council. The joint declaration NATO-Russia Relations: A New Quality placed the Struggle Against Terrorism at the top of the list of cooperative efforts to be pursued by strengthening 'cooperation through a multi-faceted approach, including joint assessments of the terrorist threat to the Euro-Atlantic area, focused on specific threats, for example, to Russian and NATO forces, to civilian aircraft, or to critical infrastructure'.

Since then NRC nations have developed their cooperation on counter-terrorism through a series of cooperative projects ranging from the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, an air surveillance system to prevent terrorism in the airspace, to the development of the STANDEX technology to detect explosives on would-be suicide bombers in crowded places. 

2004 NRC Action Plan on Terrorism - a framework for cooperation

In 2004 NRC Foreign Ministers launched the NRC Action Plan on Terrorism to improve overall coordination and provide strategic direction for cooperation on counter-terrorism. The Action Plan has proved a vital tool in organising practical activities and driving cooperation forward. In November 2010 NRC Heads of State and Government endorsed the Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges, which listed terrorism as a key common threat. Subsequently, in Berlin in April 2011 NRC Foreign Ministers approved an updated NRC Action Plan on Terrorism, which aims to enhance NRC capabilities to act, individually and jointly, in three critical areas: preventing terrorism, combating terrorist activities and managing the consequences of terrorist acts. Given the transnational character of the terrorist threat, NRC nations also committed to complementing counter-terrorism efforts underway in the United Nations and elsewhere in the international community, with a view to providing added value and avoiding duplication of efforts.  


The 2012 NRC Counter-Terrorism Table Top Exercise.  

On the 26th and 27th of March 2012, over 70 counter-terrorism experts from NRC nations came together at NATO HQ in Brussels to participate in the first civilian-military NRC Counter-Terrorism Table Top exercise. 

A broad range of expertise was represented, with participants from defence, foreign affairs and transport ministries, as well as military personnel from a number of NRC nations. Several nations also provided experts from national law enforcement bodies.

The participants were tasked with exploring the coordination of an NRC response to a fictitious scenario in which terrorists had hijacked a passenger cruise ship in international waters and threatened to sink it within 48 hours. The experts considered how to respond to such a situation and also evaluated strategic-level cooperation among NRC member states in this context. 

As the exercise unfolded, NRC experts met in different groups to discuss various aspects of the scenario, from assessing the situation to exploring possible responses and preparing to manage the potential consequences of the terrorist attack. They shared information on procedures and the roles of different agencies within NRC nations, and also considered national and international legal aspects.  

The exercise provided a valuable opportunity to share best practices in responding to terrorism and explore the common challenges faced by all NRC nations. The lessons learned in this exercise will be useful in further developing NRC cooperation on countering terrorism.