Page 1

ISSN 2294-1274


Volume 3 - Issue 8, August 2013

NATO and the New Partnership Paradigm Dating back to the early 1990’s NATO has sought to pursue formal working relationships with states and regional organizations around the world to bolster its ability to address global threats with global partners. Designed to prepare the Alliance for dangers originating beyond the borders of the Euro-Atlantic, NATO has increasingly emphasized the importance of working closer with regional actors and international organizations to ensure that the security concerns of different regions are met.

Secretary General Rasmussen at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in April 2013 (Photo: NATO)


Two areas of high concern for NATO are Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Resulting from the global concern of these conflict rife regions, NATO has initiated a

The Path Ahead for NATO Partners in the Asia-Pacific Miha Hribernik analyzes the progress and obstacles of NATO’s emerging partnerships

series of partnership agreements with key

throughout the Asia-Pacific region. He describes the current problems facing NATO and the

regional actors in order to prepare itself for

Asia-Pacific while highlighting key areas of cooperation and concludes that a continued step

the security threats of the next century.

by step approach that capitalizes on areas of existing cooperation is critical for the Alliance.

This month’s edition of Atlantic Voices

NATO and Africa: Future Prospects of a Nascent Partnership

analyzes the discussion in depth and presents recommendations for the future of

Ioanna-Nikoletta Zyga analyzes the role of NATO’s missions and partnerships in Africa and

NATO’s partnerships in Africa and the Asia

the importance of strengthening cooperation between NATO and the African Union. She


explores the different areas where cooperation can improve and the current obstacles facing

-Jason Wiseman

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

formal partnership while explaining why NATO’s role in the region is likely to increase. 1

The Path Ahead for NATO Partnerships in the Asia-Pacific By: Miha Hribernik


he April 2013 visit of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) under-

scored the growing visibility of the Asia-Pacific on the Alliance’s

is an increase in security tensions. Alongside the rise of non-traditional and transnational security threats – such as terrorism, organized crime, maritime piracy and cyber-attacks – the Asia-Pacific is also plagued by


screen. Although


grammes, and reignited maritime ter-

bilateral ties with

ritorial disputes are

the Alliance, the

just two examples

visit was all the

of recurring security

more significant as time of renewed




it came during a


nuclear and ballistic


partner countries reaffirmed


The North Korean

the six-day tour of Northeast


Meeting between Secretary General Rasmussen and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April 2013 (Photo: NATO)

tension on the Korean Peninsula and served to signal NATO’s determination to tighten relations with the Asia-Pacific.

concerns that could have global reper-

cussions. The North Korean threat or the unpredictable Sino-Japanese stand-off over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands could even entangle NATO directly. In the event of escalation and US involvement, Washington

Japan and South Korea are two of NATO’s

could possibly invoke Article 4 – or even Article 5 –

‘Partners Across the Globe’, alongside Afghanistan,

of the North Atlantic Treaty and involve the other 27

Australia, Iraq, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan.

allied countries. For all intents and purposes, NATO

These geographically distant countries, which are not

has one foot in the Pacific at any given time, although

part of any other NATO partnership initiative, coop-

until very recently the Alliance’s ambitions in the re-

erate with the Alliance in a number of areas. As the

gion did not always reflect this.

concept of NATO’s global partners can only be traced back to the early 1990s, the fact that five of the eight partners are located in the Asia-Pacific is testament to the region’s meteoric rise in geopolitical significance. Accompanying the Asia-Pacific’s surge in economic and political clout in the post-Cold War period Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

Even though NATO will continue to remain a transatlantic alliance first and foremost, the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific and the proliferation of security threats will ensure that the Alliance will devote increasing resources to maintaining a presence in the region in the ‘post-Afghanistan’ period. 2

This will present NATO with a range of chal-

even leading some analysts to call for the expansion of

lenges. First, dwindling member state defence spend-

NATO into an alliance with global membership. During

ing will limit its capabilities and necessarily curb its

the first post-9/11 years, cooperation with contact

regional ambitions. Major initiatives will be very rare

countries, including those from the Asia-Pacific, primar-

as NATO members face the reality of tight budgets and

ily revolved around their participation in the Interna-

limited interest for intervention in places as far re-

tional Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

moved as the Pacific Ocean.

Contact countries were first

Second, any NATO policy towards the Asia-Pacific region will need to be limited to non-

Cooperation with NATO’s global partners . . . will likely lead to a significant expansion of the Alliance’s partner network in the Asia-Pacific.

traditional threats that can be ad-

invited to participate in activities available to members of NATO’s structured partnerships, but this was later expanded at the Riga and

dressed with a modest investment of resources and

Bucharest Summits in 2006 and 2008 respectively. The

through cooperation with partner countries – this in-

latter brought about particularly significant changes; it

cludes cyber security,

counter-terrorism, non-

renamed ‘contact countries’ into ‘Partners Across the

proliferation and efforts to combat transnational crime.

Globe’, unveiled the concept of Tailored Cooperation

As a result, cooperation with NATO’s global partners

Programmes (TCPs) and introduced a set of objectives

will only increase in the future, and will likely lead to a

for each partnership. Furthermore, the Bucharest Sum-

significant expansion of the Alliance’s partner network

mit also expanded the possibilities for enhanced cooper-

in the Asia-Pacific.

ation, including high-level bilateral talks, as well as

The Evolution of NATO’s Partnership Policy

meetings between the North Atlantic Council (NAC)

and Partnerships in the Asia-Pacific

and ministers of partner countries and their ambassa-

The beginning of NATO’s cooperation with


countries outside of its structured partnership frame-

The Lisbon Summit of 2010 represented another

works (such as the Partnership for Peace or the Medi-

major step forward and saw the adoption of the new

terranean Dialogue) can be traced to a series of ad hoc

Strategic Concept, which alongside NATO’s 2011 Effi-

dialogues initiated during the 1990s. Such cooperation

cient and Flexible Partnership Policy now forms the

was formalized in 1998 with the adoption of a set of

framework for increasingly sophisticated cooperation

general guidelines that detailed avenues for coopera-

with ‘Partners Across the Globe’. This includes partners

tion with so-called ‘contact countries’. These guide-

in the Asia-Pacific, even though the region is not singled

lines arguably marked the beginning of a shift in

out as one of specific interest to the Alliance. Both docu-

NATO’s strategic outlook, as it began actively cooper-

ments are very broad and emphasize the importance of

ating with select partner countries across the planet.

strengthened cooperation and continued dialogue –

The September 11 terror attacks three years later, and

within the framework of ‘cooperative security’ – with

the subsequent waging of the Global War on Terror,

partner countries, but without outlining concrete initia-

brought about an increased interest in cooperation


with partner countries in countering global terrorism, Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

The loose nature of these two strategic documents 3

allows NATO a substantial degree of flexibility in tai-

one of NATO’s most significant partner countries. As

loring Individual Partnership and Cooperation Pro-

part of its on-going Operation SLIPPER, Canberra has

grammes (IPCP’s), which have replaced the earlier

contributed an ISAF contingent of 1,039 troops,

TCP’s, to suit areas of mutual interest. Even so, both

along with a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

documents emphasize several security threats that are

and a Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan’s

high on the agenda in NATO’s relations with all of its

southern Uruzgan Province. Australia has also donat-

partners: maritime and cyber security, counter-

ed some €150 million to the Afghan National Army

terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation.

Trust Fund. In the Gulf of

Australia Australia

Aden, the Australi-


an frigate HMAS

tained a degree of con-

Newcastle is cooper-

tact with NATO during

ating with NATO

the Cold War primarily through



piracy against ships

with the US. It is both a

off the Horn of Af-

‘major non-NATO ally’

rica as part of Op-

of Washington and part


of the ANZUS alliance together with the US


Australian troops in Afghanistan (Photo: Australian Defence Force)

and New Zealand.




During the 1990s, Canberra contributed a con-

Japan was one of the first NATO partner states

tingent of troops to the NATO-led Stabilisation Force

in the Asia-Pacific. Visits by Japanese defence minis-

(SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but interaction

ters to NATO Headquarters date back to 1979, alt-

remained limited until Australia dispatched troops to

hough these contacts did not begin to resemble con-

Afghanistan in 2001. Regular dialogue has been pur-

crete cooperation until the July 1990 visit by Foreign

sued since 2005, and Australian foreign and prime

Minister Taro Nakayama in Brussels. This occasion

ministers have been addressing the NAC on an almost

paved the way for emerging cooperation during the

annual basis since 2004. Australian prime ministers

decade; as an example, Japan became a major donor

were also present at two NATO Summits; Prime

in the Western Balkans following the 1995 NATO

Minister Kevin Rudd attended the 2008 Bucharest

intervention during the war in Former Yugoslavia.

Summit, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard and De-

Although Japan has not contributed troops to

fence Minister Stephen Smith participated at the 2010

ISAF, it has taken on a supporting role, with its Mari-

and 2012 summits in Lisbon and Chicago respective-

time Self Defence Force (MSDF) ensuring refueling

ly. Most recently, Australia and NATO signed an

capabilities for Operation Enduring Freedom from

IPCP in February 2013.

2001 to 2009. Tokyo has also devoted significant

On an operational level, Australia is currently Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

funding to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan 4

National Police; for the reintegration of insurgents

erability, addressing global security issues, developing

under the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Pro-

mechanisms for crisis prevention and management, as

gramme; and for the construction of hospitals and

well as capacity building.

schools in the country. Most recently, the July 2012

Although the signing of the IPCP formalizes the

Tokyo Conference helped attract foreign investment

bilateral relationship, regular contacts between Mon-

and donations to Afghanistan.

golia and NATO can be traced back to 2005, when

During the past decade the bilateral relationship

Ulan Bator first contributed soldiers to the NATO-led

has reached several important political milestones.

Kosovo Force (KFOR). Since then, cooperation has

Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited To-

slowly expanded. Mongolia has hosted high-level

kyo in 2005, and Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Aso

NATO delegations, and President Tsakhia Elbegdorj

addressed the NAC in 2006. The address was fol-

attended the 2010 Lisbon Summit. The country first

lowed in 2007 by the first ever visit of a Japanese

dispatched an infantry platoon to ISAF in March 2010,

prime minister to NATO Headquarters, during Prime

and at the time of writing contributes 46 troops.

Minister Abe’s first term in office. That same year, the




NATO-Japan framework

New Zealand

NATO-Japan cooperation is most prominent in the Gulf of Aden.

for cooperation in Afghanistan opened the doors for a Japanese provision of humanitarian assistance in support of NATO Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), while 2010 saw the signing of a bilateral security agreement, followed by a Joint Political Declaration in April 2013.

New Zealand’s relationship with NATO somewhat mirrors that of its larger neighbour. Like Australia, New Zealand is party to the

ANZUS Treaty and has been conferred the status of a ‘major non-NATO ally’ by the US. Its close military ties with the US gave the country some familiarity with NATO standards and practices prior to Wellington’s first cooperation with the 28-nation bloc on an

Outside of Afghanistan, NATO-Japan coopera-

operational level. This took place within SFOR, when

tion is most prominent in the Gulf of Aden. Two

the country dispatched several officers to the NATO-

MSDF destroyers and two P-3C patrol aircraft oper-

led peacekeeping operation.

ate out of a Japanese base in Djibouti. The force works together with NATO assets countering maritime piracy in the region as part of Operation Ocean Shield. Mongolia

As was the case with Australia, participation in ISAF also marked a milestone in New Zealand’s relationship with NATO. The majority of the country’s ISAF personnel were deployed as part of a PRT in Bamyam. Although most have already left the coun-

Mongolia is NATO’s latest Asia-Pacific partner

try, 13 members of the New Zealand National Sup-

country, only becoming one in March 2012 after the

port Element remain in Afghanistan and provide logis-

signing of an IPCP. The Programme envisions oppor-

tical support at Bagram Air Force Base.

tunities for greater cooperation in enhancing interop-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

On a political level, contacts with NATO in5

tensified in the immediate post-9/11 period. During her

sonnel still remain in the country, mostly in Bagram.

time in office, Prime Minister Helen Clark visited

South Korea also remains invested in Afghanistan

NATO Headquarters on a regular basis, and attended

through financial contributions: Seoul has earmarked



some $500 million for the Afghan security forces and

Summit. Frequent bi-

the country’s develop-

lateral talks and visits

ment between 2011

continue, and Foreign

and 2014, and has al-



ready donated $75 mil-

McCully attended the

lion between 2011 and

NATO Summit in Lis-


bon in 2010 and Chica-

Along with many other

go in 2012. Both sides

partner countries in the

signed an ICPC in June

region, South Korea has

2012, which emphasiz-

also dispatched naval


es cooperation in areas such as arms control,

Bilateral discussion between Secretary General Rasmussen and the Minister of Defence of New Zealand, Jonathan Coleman, in February 2013 (Photo: NATO)

disaster relief and crisis management, non-proliferation, education and training. Republic of Korea

vessels to help counter the threat of piracy in

the Gulf of Aden. 2013 & Beyond: Old Challenges, New Momentum

An address to the NAC by then-Foreign Minister

Secretary General Rasmussen’s April tour of

Ban Ki-Moon in 2005 marked the beginning of South

Northeast Asia brought renewed momentum to

Korea’s political dialogue with NATO. Cooperation was

NATO’s role in the Asia-Pacific. The visit followed in

formalized in September 2012 with the signing of an

the wake of a January letter from Japan’s Prime Min-

IPCP, which identifies the following priority areas: ter-

ister Abe where he openly invited the Alliance to play

rorism response, enhancing of interoperability, working

a greater role in the region and to become more ac-

together in multinational peace-support operations and

tive in the security, stability and prosperity of East

cooperating under the NATO Science for Peace and Se-

Asia. The letter also warned of China’s increasing

curity Programme.

maritime power and North Korea’s behaviour, adding

Even though South Korea’s (ROK) relations with NATO are arguably less developed than most other Asia

that both have intensified the security concerns in East Asia.

-Pacific partners, the country is a long-standing contrib-

Although it is unclear whether the appeal di-

utor to ISAF. Seoul first deployed a contingent of medi-

rectly prompted Rasmussen’s visit to the region, the

cal personnel in 2002, followed by a unit of military

letter highlights a challenge to increasing NATO in-

engineers in 2003. Between 2010 and 2013, the ROK

volvement in the Pacific. While the strategic interests

also fielded a 470-person strong civilian-military PRT in

of NATO and its partners overlap substantially, a cer-

Parwan Province. After the PRT’s dissolution, 350 per-

tain mismatch in expectations persists. For example,

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


the 28-nation bloc and Japan do not entirely see eye-to-

By the Secretary General’s own admission, in the

eye on China. Secretary General Rasmussen strongly

event of a North Korean attack against the US, NATO

emphasizes that NATO does not perceive China as a

would have to discuss the situation and make a deci-

threat, but rather wishes to see a structured dialogue

sion based on specific circumstances, leaving the door

with the rising power. For the foreseeable future, nei-

open for various interpretations. Contingency plan-

ther NATO nor many of its member states – some of

ning for such an eventuality is something that NATO

them still reeling from the global economic crisis – will

will have to do over the coming years, despite the

have any desire to antagonize a

relatively low likelihood of

major trading partner, let

such an event.

alone to perceive it as a strategic competitor. Even so, the text of the NATO-Japan Joint

NATO does not perceive China as a threat, but rather wishes to see a structured dialogue with the rising power.

Despite the mismatch in interests noted above, the Alliance and its five part-

Political Declaration signed

ners in the region agree on

during the visit appears to have at least partially taken

the need to pick some of the security arrangement’s

into account Mr. Abe’s January appeal, as it emphasizes

‘low hanging fruit’ in areas where obtaining consensus

common strategic interests and the shared values be-

for cooperation is fairly unproblematic and which will

tween NATO and Japan, although it avoids mentioning

not be seen as contentious by other states or existing


security structures in the region. These are the need

Another hindrance to the Alliance’s foray into the

to address the safety of sea lines of communication

Pacific comes in the form of overlapping security ar-

(SLOC); to combat international terrorism and orga-

rangements in the region. The US is part of ANZUS, and

nized crime; to enhance non-proliferation efforts; and

has bilateral alliances with Japan and South Korea. Rela-

to boost cyber defence capabilities. Furthermore,

tions between these two US allies and NATO partners

there is consensus on the need to manage the North

are, however, burdened with historical baggage, and

Korean ballistic and nuclear missile threat, which was

compounded by an on-going territorial dispute over the

emphasized several times during Rasmussen’s April

Dokdo/Takeshima Islands. Although an escalation of this

visit at the height of the most recent crisis on the Ko-

dispute is unlikely, it illustrates the extent of tensions

rean Peninsula. Although ballistic missile defence

that exist in the region even between NATO-partner

(BMD) cooperation features mainly on the bilateral

democracies and US allies. The US forward military pos-

level between the US, Japan and South Korea,

ture in the Asia-Pacific carries with it additional implica-

NATO’s own substantial BMD expertise provides a

tions. If the country finds itself embroiled in a war on

promising venue for cooperation that could be placed

the Korean Peninsula, or on the side of Japan in a hypo-

higher on the agenda between NATO and its part-

thetical war over the disputed islands with China, Wash-


ington may choose to invoke Article 4 (consultation) or

Over the coming years NATO and its five Pa-

even Article 5 (collective defence) of the North Atlantic

cific partners will need to work closely to further op-

Treaty. By extension, this scenario could entangle

erationalize the various areas of mutual interest out-

NATO in a conflict far outside of the Euro-Atlantic area.

lined in the IPCPs. For the time being, cooperation in

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


many areas – such as cyber security – is still in an em-

towards Western military alliances. For this reason, a

bryonic phase. To this end, talks such as the ones held

formal partnership with India remains an unlikely pro-

between NATO and Japan on the side-lines of the Shan-

spect, although there remains substantial room for

gri-La Dialogue in May, and the November 2012 NATO

raising awareness of NATO’s work through public

-ROK policy consultations, will help translate the IPCPs

diplomacy, which would lead to more regular politi-

into concrete initiatives.

cal contacts and possible practical cooperation in areas

Cooperation With Non-Partners in the Region Despite the aforementioned obstacles, NATO’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific is undeniably growing. As its strategy evolves, the Alliance will likely seek to structure and formalize its cooperation and dialogue in the region. This will include both dialogue with nonpartner countries such as China and India, and the expansion of its partnership network to new countries. In line with its ambition of establishing a struc-

such as counter-terrorism, maritime and cyber security. Even though a formal partnership with China and India is a distant prospect, NATO’s network of partnerships in the Asia-Pacific will continue to expand. Its growth could follow the accession pattern established with existing partners, when practical cooperation – primarily in multilateral operations such as SFOR, KFOR and ISAF – paved the way for regular political dialogue, and eventually culminated in an

tured dialogue with


Beijing, NATO will

Malaysia is perhaps the

seek to engage China

most probable future NATO

further over the com-

partner, as both sides have a

ing years. This is un-

history of working together,

likely to culminate in

ranging from the deployment

a formal partnership,

of a Malaysian contingent as

but could potentially

part of the Implementation

lead to the creation of a



akin to the NATO-

Force (IFOR) and SFOR in Lt. General Rhys Jones (Chief of Defence, New Zealand) with Captain Khir Junaidi Idris (Military Representative, Malaysia) (Photo: NATO)

Russia Council. In the more immediate term, frequent bilateral talks across different levels will continue. Examples include the seven rounds of NATO-China staff talks held to date, and meetings such as the one centered around enhancing military-to-military cooperation during this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue.

Bosnia during the 1990s, to its on-going participation in ISAF.

Singapore is another potential candidate: Its troops joined ISAF in 2007 and concluded their mission in Uruzgan Province in June this year. Another recent and noteworthy contributor is Tonga, which dispatched a 55-strong contingent to Afghanistan in 2010. Relative to the size of Tonga’s population –

Relations with India remain limited for the time

numbering just over 100,000 people – its force is the

being, largely stemming from the disinterest in NATO

largest in ISAF. Most recently, the kingdom’s De-

within India’s strategic community, the country’s tradi-

fence Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, met with NATO

tional policy of non-alignment and general skepticism

Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow in

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


Brussels during the June 2013 meeting of NATO De-

policy of Japan, and maritime security in East Asia –

fence Ministers. This was one of only two bilateral meet-

with an emphasis on the role of coast guards in terri-

ings with non-NATO states during the two-day event.

torial disputes and on counter-piracy information sharing networks such as ReCAAP. Miha holds an


MSc in International Security from the University of

As NATO’s increasing engagement with its partners in the Asia-Pacific shows, a shift from an alliance

Bristol and a BA in International Relations from the University of Ljubljana.

purely focused on both sides of the Atlantic to one with a global outlook is unfolding with renewed momentum. The 28-nation bloc is increasingly working together


A shift from an alliance purely focused on both sides of the Atlantic to one with a global outlook is unfolding with renewed momentum.

with regional partners on issues of common concern. In the post-Afghanistan period, future practical cooperation will likely focus on areas such as nuclear non-proliferation (principally due to the threat from North Korea), maritime security (as maritime piracy and robbery continue to threaten SLOCs in the Gulf of Aden and in Southeast Asia), counterterrorism and cyber security.


Benitez, Jorge (2011, May 25). Time for a NATO-China Council? new_atlanticist/time-nato-chinacouncil.


Helbig, Robert. “NATO-India: Prospects of a Partnership”. Research Paper 73, February 2012. Rome: NATO Defense College. 3

Jones, Philip-Shetler (2013, April 17). NATO response to attack by North Korea.

4 Magyarics, Tamás. “NATO: From Great Expectations Through Hard Times To Bleak House?” Panorama of global security environment 2012. Bratislava: CENAA. 5 Mei, Jingya (2013, January 14). Abe appeals to NATO while toughening stance against China. world/2013/0113/548383.html. 6

These arguably present ‘low-hanging fruit’ that will ensure NATO’s growing involvement in the AsiaPacific does not put regional powers on edge. This approach is very much in line with an increasingly global NATO that will, however, remain a Euro-Atlantic alliance at its core. As the Secretary General emphasized in his speech at the Japan National Press Club in April, even a global

NATO (2013, June 3). NATO, Asian countries together at the Shangri -La Dialogue. news_100984.htm.

7 NATO (2012, October 30). NATO’s relations with partners across the globe. 8

NATO (2013, February 21). NATO cooperation with Australia. topics_48899.htm.


NATO (2013, April 22). NATO cooperation with Japan. http://


NATO (2012, March 23). NATO’s cooperation with Mongolia. topics_85297.htm?selectedLocale=en.


NATO will not seek a presence in the Asia-Pacific, but

NATO (2012, July 26). NATO cooperation with New Zealand.

will instead endeavour to work with the Asia-Pacific.


About the author Miha Hribernik is Research Coordinator at the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) in Brussels and an analyst at the geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat. His research and analysis focus on the foreign and security Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

NATO (2013, April 22). NATO’s cooperation with the Republic of Korea.

13 Nishihara, Masashi. “Can Japan be a Global Partner for NATO?” RIPS Policy Perspectives No. 2, December 2006. Tokyo: Research Institute for Peace and Security. 14 Schreer, Benjamin. “Beyond Afghanistan: NATO’s Global Partnerships in the Asia-Pacific”. Research Paper 75, April 2012. Rome: NATO Defense College. 15 Weinrod, W. Bruce. “NATO and Asia’s Changing Relationship”. Global Asia, Fall 2008, vol. 3 no. 3.


NATO and Africa: Future Prospects of a Nascent Partnership maintains partnership relations with 41 countries and

By: Ioanna Nikoletta Zyga


ATO’s current Strategic Concept,

a range of international organizations. The breadth of

adopted by Allied leaders at the Lisbon

NATO’s partnerships are such that the Alliance has

Summit in November 2010, identifies

been forging a series of frameworks for cooperation

cooperative security as a core task of the Alliance,

with external actors, namely the Partnership for

alongside collective defense and crisis management. It

Peace (PfP), that brings together NATO and Euro-

underlines the necessity for NATO to work with part-

Atlantic partners, the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD)

ners to address transnational threats at a time when

that involves North African countries, the Istanbul

instability and conflict originating beyond Allied terri-

Cooperation Initiative (ICI) that brings together

tory can directly threaten Allied security:

NATO and four Gulf Cooperation Countries, and the so-called Partners Across the Globe.

The Alliance is affected by, and can affect, political and security developments beyond its borders. The Alliance will engage actively to enhance international security, through partnership with relevant countries and other international organizations;

This article aims to discuss NATO’s engagement in Africa, principally its cooperation with the African Union (AU) - the primary institution currently involved in addressing peace and security in Africa -

The Strategic Doctrine

which has not attracted much

also states that “the promotion

scholarly attention if com-

of Euro-Atlantic security is

pared to other NATO part-

best assured through a wide


network of partnerships with

This paper is organized

countries and organizations

as follows: It first discusses

across the globe.” NATO’s

why Africa matters to Allies.

new partnership policy aims to prepare the Alliance for an ever changing security envi-

(Photo: NATO)

ronment, in which NATO needs to cooperate with states and international organizations that NATO has not traditionally engaged with in order to address transnational security challenges that can affect the security of its members. Partnership has been key to the Alliance’s evolution, strategy and operations. At present, NATO Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

It then goes on to provide an

Visit to NATO by Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan

overview of NATO’s engage-

ment with the AU. Finally, it examines the challenges in enhancing cooperation between NATO and the AU and offers suggestions for the way ahead. Conclusions are presented in the last section. Why Africa Matters Africa hosts many transnational security risks that currently threaten the Alliance. To begin with, Africa is the world’s most conflict-prone continent 10

and is burdened by underdevelopment, poor governance

have direct security implications for the Alliance’s se-

and fragile state structures. These aspects make Africa a

curity interests; Allies who share the Mediterranean

potential safe haven and breeding ground for terrorists

border with North African states are particularly vul-

and other criminal movements. Particularly alarming are

nerable to spillovers from the region. That said,

the developments in North Africa’s Sahel Region, which

NATO should continue improving its partnership with

has emerged as an ungoverned haven for militant groups.

Africa, given that the underlying vulnerabilities of the

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is the principal

region listed above can directly impact NATO’s secu-

terrorist threat coming from the region. As one observer

rity interests. This is also in line with NATO’s Strate-

notes, “the recruitment of fresh fighters from surround-

gic Concept which stresses the necessity for Allies to work with partners in order to deal

ing countries (Libya, Mauritania, Niger and Tunisia) and attempts to move closer to other more local ex-

Allies who share the Mediterranean border with North African states are particularly vulnerable.

with disruptive challenges, especially in the field of what it labels as

tremist groups, in particular, Boko

“emerging security challenges,”

Haram operating in northern Nigeria, leaves open the

which include weapons of mass de-

risk of creation of a terrorist arch across Africa from

struction proliferation and counter- piracy. In other

Mauritania as far as Somalia.”

words, NATO does not intend to become a ‘gendarme

The recent crisis in Mali demonstrated that failing

du monde’ yet the Alliance must be engaged in regions

states are a much desired safe haven for radical Islamic

where Allied security is at risk. Further, with NATO

groups and transnational terrorist organizations. Recog-

members sharply reducing their military spending,

nizing the threat from terrorism in the region, NATO

NATO should better leverage its partnerships in order

Heads of State and Government agreed to intensify coop-

to share the costs of providing security. Besides, a pro-

eration on terrorism-related issues as an integral part of

active approach on NATO’s part is required to prepare

NATO’s engagement with the countries of the Mediter-

for the many risks ahead. For example, the participa-

ranean Dialogue during NATO’s 2002 Prague Summit.

tion of Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in

In addition to the terrorist threat and its potential spillo-

NATO’s campaign over Libya greatly demonstrates the

ver to NATO territory, Allies are concerned about the

importance of forging consistent security partnerships,

security risks posed by immigration, civil conflict and

as well as the value of NATO’s outreach to the MD

new interstate wars, piracy and weapons trafficking.

and ICI countries. These countries, building on the

What is more, the crisis in Libya in 2011 exacerbated

foundations laid by these two partnership frameworks

two of the already existing and interconnected problems

contributed not only logistical support and resources

of the region: the illicit trafficking of weapons from the

to the NATO-led intervention in Libya, but more im-

country increased dramatically as large amounts of so-

portantly, their political support.

phisticated weapons such as SA-24 missiles, heavy mor-

NATO’s Involvement in Africa So Far: Is there

tars, heavy artillery and thousands of anti-tank mines fell

Room for Improvement?

into the hands of terrorist groups.

As far as the institutional aspect of the NATO-

The problems facing Africa are regional security

AU relationship is concerned, no formal mechanism

challenges that not only affect African populations but

exists for the two institutions to interact. What is

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


more, AU-NATO strategic level contacts and po-

Provider (OAP), NATO’s first ever counter piracy

litical dialogue have been periodic at best. The two

mission. OAP ran until December 2008, when it was

principles guiding NATO’s engagement in Africa

handed over to the European Union. NATO returned

are “African Solutions to African Problems” and

to the region in March 2009 when it launched Opera-

“minimal NATO footprint.”

tion Allied Protector, whose mandate ran until Au-

Although NATO maintains partnership rela-

gust 2009. Following that, NATO launched Opera-

tions with some North African countries since the

tion Ocean Shield (OOS) whose mandate runs until

establishment of the Mediterranean Dialogue in

the end of 2014. At present, OOS is contributing to

1994, the organization’s involvement in the conti-

counter piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden and off

nent is relatively new. Security cooperation be-

the Horn of Africa. What is more, under counter-

tween NATO and AU only started in 2005 when

terrorism Operation Active Endeavour (OAE),

following an African Union request, NATO start-

NATO vessels are patrolling the Mediterranean and

ed assisting the African Union Mission in Sudan

monitoring shipping to help deter, defend, disrupt

(AMIS) by providing critical logistic support and

and protect against terrorist activities in the Mediter-

conducting strategic airlift for AMIS peacekeepers

ranean, including off the coast of North African

engaged in Africa. NATO continued providing

Countries. NATO has been cooperating with several

support to the hybrid United Nations and African

North African countries within the framework of

Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) which suc-


ceeded AMIS on 31 December 2007.

NATO undertook its first ever operation in an

Since then, NATO’s relations with the AU

Arab country in March 2011 when it launched Opera-

have been expanded. Since 2007, NATO has been

tion Unified Protector (OUP) to implement United

supporting the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973

In particular, NATO has been providing AMISOM

to enforce the arms embargo against Libya and the

with strategic airlift and sealift support. NATO has

UN-mandated no-fly zone over the country. The op-

also been providing subject matter experts for the

eration was concluded on 31 October 2011.

Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) of the

In the field of education and training, the

AU that supports AMISOM. To date, and follow-

NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, has been

ing renewed requests by the African Union, the

hosting African Union staff officers since 2009.

Alliance’s assistance has been extended several

NATO’s Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples has also

times. Furthermore, at the request of the UN Sec-

organized certification/evaluation training programs

retary-General, NATO is also escorting UN char-

for AU staff. NATO has also participated and sup-

tered vessels in support of the African Union Mis-

ported various African Standby Force (ASF) prepara-

sion in Somalia.

tory workshops designed to develop ASF-related con-

NATO has also sought to address the

cepts. Moreover, in June 2006, NATO exercised its

scourge of piracy in the region. Since 2008, the

NATO Response Force (NRF) in Africa during its

Alliance has been actively involved in counter-

first out-of-area exercise (Operation Steadfast Jaguar)

piracy efforts when it launched Operation Allied

in Cape Verde.

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


Finally, since 2005 NATO is providing capacity

concerned - with the exception of risks posed by pira-

-building support to the African Union and the ASF

cy and terrorism - and as such, the political will

with the aim of strengthening the AU’s peace- keeping capabilities. The



maintains a Military Liaison

among Allies for NATO to deepen

Cooperation between NATO and the African Union is limited, especially in comparison with the Alliance’s other partnership programs.

Officer Team in Addis Ab-

its engagement with its partners in the region is limited. Second, the cornerstone of NATO’s approach vis-à-vis Africa is “African Solutions to African

aba which has facilitated cooperation between NATO

Problems.” Subsequently, NATO provides assistance

and the AU in the military-technical sphere.

only at the request of the African Union, which means

Overall, the aforementioned discussion of

that cooperation between the two institutions has

NATO’s involvement in Africa shows that NATO has

developed on an ad-hoc basis. The problem with this

been making valuable contributions to peace and se-

approach is that although it can address goals on a one

curity primarily by providing operational support,

-off, short term basis, it gives little consideration to

and through military and technical assistance and sup-

long -term goals.

port in the area of education and training as well. Yet,

Another factor that needs to be taken into con-

the level of cooperation between NATO and the Afri-

sideration is the African Union’s inherent limitations,

can Union is limited, especially in comparison with

namely the fact that “the AU’s institutions and execu-

the Alliance’s other partnership programs. NATO’s

tive bodies are still weak. Many of them have not re-

partnership with the African Union is nascent, and

ally advanced beyond the stage of a “work in pro-

indeed there is room for improvement, however a

gress.” In general, the AU is understaffed, critically

series of factors have been obstructing the deepening

lacking in coordination with the actions and decisions

of NATO’s partnership with African states.

of its member states.”

Hindrances to Furthering NATO’s Partnership With Africa

Then there is the issue of NATO’s image among African states. In general, “a history of coloni-

The following obstacles remain in the way of

zation and bilateral interventionism has created with

strengthening cooperation between NATO and Afri-

the wider public an ambiance of distrust, which af-


fects NATO as well.” The Alliance’s image in the reFirst, there is a sense of fatigue among some

gion suffered badly following the Libya campaign in

NATO members due to NATO’s operation in Af-

2011. More specifically, NATO was accused of going

ghanistan, the Organization’s most demanding opera-

beyond the mandate of the United Nations Security

tion. This, coupled with sweeping austerity cuts, sub-

Council and pursuing regime change, while some re-

sequent shrinking defense budgets and ever-declining

gional states expressed their reservations toward

European defense capabilities, has a negative impact

NATO. The fact that NATO suffers from a negative

on the willingness of Allies to engage in African secu-

image in the region is a major obstacle in furthering

rity affairs. Furthermore, Africa is not seen as a prior-

cooperation between NATO and the AU, as some

ity region as far as its relevance to Allied security is

African partners are reluctant to work with NATO.

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


tion of its image among certain African states.

The Way Ahead Before deciding its future involvement in

Moreover, NATO should take advantage of the

the continent, NATO should decide its level of

partnership structures it already has in place, such as

ambition regarding its engagement in Africa. In

the Mediterranean Dialogue, to further develop its

any case, there is no political will among Allies to

partnership with North African countries which are

address the conditions of instability in the region

members of the MD. The potential for establishing

which are rooted in a social, economic, and cultur-

new cooperative arrangements that would bring to-

al context. If NATO wants to improve its partner-

gether NATO allies and key countries of the region in

ship with the region, several steps can be taken:

an effort to engage in policy dialogue should also be

Although the military dimension of the part-

examined. NATO’s numerous operations make NATO a

nership is progressing, the political aspect of the partnership must be

repository for operational

improved. Strengthen-

lessons learned in the

ing the political dia-

fields of peacekeeping, as

logue between NATO

well as in the fields of

and African states is a


much needed require-

counterterrorism. NATO

ment to move the part-

should continue sharing its

nership forward. Regu-

experience with the AU

lar meetings between

Visit to NATO HQ by Mauritanian Parliamentarians and Senators

NATO Allies and Afri-

(Photo: NATO)



and assist it in building up its capabilities and train its

can Union members within the framework of a

forces. Given the prevalence of porous borders in the

forum similar to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership

region, training in the fields of border control with

Forum would be a step toward this direction. In

the aim of tackling the illicit trafficking of weapons

this way, Allies and key countries of the region

and terrorism is very much needed.

confronted by shared security threats could discuss

NATO could also examine the possibility of

topics of mutual concern to enhance mutual un-

providing capacity building assistance to other region-

derstanding. Additionally, strengthening the ca-

al organizations, such as the Economic Community of

pacity of NATO’s liaison team in Addis Ababa to

West African States (ECOWAS), whose efforts in

coordinate cooperation between the two sides and

Mali “have been impeded by limited crisis response

facilitate the exchange of information would also

planning capabilities, accompanied by the insufficient

be beneficial.

military readiness of several troop-contributing na-

NATO should also capitalize on a more


structured dialogue to improve its image and cor-

Needless to say, an area where there is great

rect misperceptions about its intentions among the

potential for cooperation is maritime security, where

countries of the region in light of its recent en-

NATO has gained unparalleled expertise. NATO

gagement in Libya, and the consequent deteriora-

should put emphasis on the maritime security capacity

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8


building of its partners so that they can tackle the

eration with partners to meet today’s many complex

scourge of piracy on their own over the long term.

challenges. Undoubtedly, partnerships are key in tur-

The fact that African navies “have taken first steps to

bulent times, and strengthened cooperation between

develop a naval component to the African Standby

NATO and the African Union can only be a win-win

Force” is a step toward the right direction while


NATO and its African partners should step up these efforts. In parallel, the Organization should examine

About the author

the possibility of renewing the mandate of Operation

Ioanna-Nikoletta Zyga currently works at the

Ocean Shield and expanding its geographical scope.

European Parliament. She holds a Master’s degree

Finally, it has to be highlighted that it is imper-

from Stanford University’s Center for Russian, East

ative for NATO to cooperate with other actors cur-

European and Eurasian Studies. She has worked at the

rently involved in Africa, particularly the European

Cooperation and Regional Security Division of

Union (EU). In an era of strained defense budgets and

NATO’s International Military Staff.

complex security threats, a concerted effort is required to tackle security challenges more efficiently while avoiding duplication. Conclusions NATO has been cultivating its relations with African states for some time and has been making considerable contributions to peace and security on the continent. Security threats stemming from Africa will continue to threaten the security of NATO members and as such, the need for NATO’s involvement in the region will persist. As it was already discussed, the likelihood that Allies will opt for a more ambitious approach toward Africa is minimal; they will

Bibliography 1 NATO, Strategic Concept, 2010, concept/ pdf/Strat_Concept_web_en.pdf. Nicole Ameline, “A Crescent of crisis on Europe’ s doorstep: A new North/ South Strategic Partnership for the Sahel,” NATO PA draft special report, 10 April 2013,, 3. 2 NATO, Prague Summit Declaration, 21 November 2002, http://, 09 April 2013, http:// 3 Michelle Nichols, “Libya arms fueling conflicts in Syria, Mali, and beyond: U.N. experts,” Reuters, 4 Brooke A. Smith-Windsor, “Building an AU-NATO partnership for the 21st Century” in AU-NATO Collaboration: Implications and Prospects, ed. Brooke A. Smith-Windsor (Rome:NATO Defense College,2013) http://, 24. 5 NATO, NATO assistance to the African Union, cps/en/natolive/topics_8191.htm. 6 NATO, Chicago Summit Declaration, 20 May 2012, http:// 7. NATO, NATO assistance to the African Union, cps/en/natolive/topics_8191.htm.

rather continue pursuing a low-key, and above all,

8. NATO, Of bagpipes and capacity-building in Africa, 25 March 2011, news_71790.htm?selectedLocale=en.

pragmatic approach informed by political considera-

9. Smith-Windsor, “Building an AU-NATO partnership for the 21st Century,” 20.

tions and resource restrictions. By focusing on capaci-

10. Adesoji Adeniyi, “Paternalism or Partnership?The AU-NATO relationship and the Libyan Crisis:Implications for Security Governance in Africa” in AU-NATO Collaboration: Implications and Prospects, ed. Brooke A. SmithWindsor (Rome:NATO Defense College,2013) http://, 125.

ty building of its African partners, the Alliance empowers African states to manage and address their security challenges and contribute to regional security. Definitely, enabling the African states to take ownership of their challenges and strengthening their defense capabilities to tackle them also advances NATO security interests. This approach is in line with NATO’s doctrinal foundations that dictate coopAtlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 8

11. Kumbirai Hodzi, “Forging and Charting a Judicious and Realistic Partnership: Rethinking the Interfaces,” in AU-NATO Collaboration: Implications and Prospects, ed. Brooke A. Smith-Windsor (Rome:NATO Defense College,2013) icode=491, 94. 12. Florence Gaub, “Against all odds: Relations between NATO and the MENA region,” Strategic Studies Institute, 2012, http://, ix. 13. Lesley Anne Warner, “Advancing Peace and Security in Africa” in Top five reasons why Africa should be a priority for the United States, ed. John Banks et al., Brookings, March 2013, Research/Files/Reports/2013/04/africa%20priority%20united% 20states/04_africa_priority_united_states.pdf, 4. 14. Eva Strickmann, “EU and NATO Efforts to counter piracy off Somalia: A drop in the Ocean?,” ISIS Europe, 2009, pdf/2009_artrel_332_esr46-eu-nato-counterpiracy.pdf, 4.


ATA Programs From 1-8 August, the Portuguese Atlantic Committee held the 18th Annual Portuguese Atlantic Youth Seminar in Lisbon,

Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers.

Portugal. The event was extremely successful, bringing in young

The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an international non-

professionals from across the Alliance to participate in a range of

governmental organization based in Brussels working to facilitate global

lectures, workshops and debates about the future of the Alliance.

networks and the sharing of knowledge on transatlantic cooperation and security. By convening political, diplomatic and military leaders with

From 6-7 September, the Latvian Transatlantic Organiza-

academics, media representatives and young professionals, the ATA promotes

tion (LATO) is hosting

the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty: Democracy, Freedom,

the annual and interna-

Liberty, Peace, Security and Rule of Law. The ATA membership extends to 37

tional renowned “Riga

countries from North America to the Caucasus throughout Europe. In 1996,

Conference.” The con-

the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) was created to specifially


include to the successor generation in our work.



statesmen and interna-

Since 1954, the ATA has advanced the public’s knowledge and

tional officials from the highest levels to discuss issues of key con-

understanding of the importance of joint efforts to transatlantic security

cern to Europe, NATO and the Baltic region. Check out the

through its international programs, such as the Central and South Eastern

LATO website to learn more at:

European Security Forum, the Ukraine Dialogue and its Educational Platform. In 2011, the ATA adopted a new set of strategic goals that reflects the

From 5-11 July, the Danish Atlantic Treaty Association (DATA) hosted the 28th annual Danish Atlantic Youth Seminar

constantly evolving dynamics of international cooperation. These goals include:

(DAYS), bringing together youth from around the world to discuss pressing issues in national security and international relations. Atlantic Voices is always seeking new material. If you are a young researcher, subject expert or professional and feel you have a valuable contribution to make to the debate, then please get in touch. We are looking for papers, essays, and book reviews on issues of importance to the NATO Alliance. For details of how to submit your work please see our website. Further enquiries can also be directed to the ATA Secretariat at the address listed below. Editor: Jason Wiseman Images should not be reproduced without permission from sources listed, and remain the sole property of those sources. Unless otherwise stated, all images are the property of NATO.

the establishment of new and competitive programs on international security issues.

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activism and greater emphasis on joint research initiatives. These programs will also aid in the establishment of a network of international policy experts and professionals engaged in a dialogue with NATO.

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Atlantic Voices Vol. 3 No. 8 (August 2013)  

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