The fight against terrorism has become an important element of NATO's cooperation activities and, in some cases, has provided fresh impetus to create new links.
The contribution by a number of partners to NATO's operations, as well as their efforts to introduce defence reforms supported by NATO programmes, contributes to the prevention of terrorism. In addition, NATO is co-operating with other international organizations in order to ensure that information is shared and appropriate action can be taken more effectively in the fight against terrorism.
The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T)
NATO and its Partners are engaged in practical cooperation programmes conducted within the framework of the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T).
The Action Plan defines partnership roles as well as instruments to fight terrorism and manage its consequences. For instance, NATO and Partner countries work together to improve the safety of air space, including through the exchange of data and coordination procedures related to the handling of possible terrorist threats.
All partner countries can participate, including NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue partners and other interested countries on a case-by-case basis.
The PAP-T was adopted at the Prague Summit in November 2002 and has been evolving and expanding in line with the joint aims and efforts of Allies and partners.
The spirit in which it was adopted was already manifested on 12 September 2001, when the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council condemned the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. the previous day and offered the support of all 46 members to the United States.
Recently three informal working groups have been set up under PAP-T, addressing the security of energy infrastructure, border security, as well as financial aspects of terrorism and disruption of terrorist organisations' sources of finance.
Deepening relations to combat terrorism
Combating terrorism was among the main drivers behind the creation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in May 2002. The common fight against terrorism remains a key aspect of NATO's dialogue with Russia, as well as a focus of the NRC's practical cooperation activities. In December 2004, the NRC agreed an Action Plan on Terrorism and later, in 2006 and 2007, Russia participated in Operation Active Endeavour.
In 2003 the NRC also launched the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) to foster cooperation on airspace surveillance and air traffic coordination, with the underlying
goal to enhance confidence building and to strengthen capabilities required for the
handling of situations in which aircraft are suspected of being used as weapons to
perpetrate terrorist attacks.
Relations with Mediterranean Dialogue partners have also deepened, including through contributions to Operation Active Endeavour
Creating new links
The fight against terrorism has provided the impetus to create new links with non-partner countries. At the Istanbul Summit in June 2004, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to reach out to countries in the broader Middle East region, widening NATO's network of partnerships in order to facilitate the fight against terrorism.
It has also reinforced its relations with "contact countries”/partners across the Globe. These are countries that are not NATO members and do not participate in any formal partnership with the Alliance. However, they share similar security concerns and have expressed an interest in developing relations with the Organization. They comprise countries such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. Their level of involvement with NATO varies, as do the areas of cooperation.
In this context the Center of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) has served as both a location and catalyst for international dialogue and discussion regarding defense against terrorism issues. COE-DAT has established links with over 50 countries and 40 organizations to provide subject matter experts on terrorism in order to conduct over 53 activities with over 3400 participants from 90 countries.
Increasing cooperation with other international organizations
NATO is also working to deepen its relations with the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations to strengthen efforts in fighting terrorism.
With regard to cooperation with the United Nations, NATO works with affiliated bodies such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, its Executive Directorate and the Security Council Committee 1540. It has also established contacts with the UN on its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and works closely with the UN agencies that play a leading role in responding to international disasters and in consequence management – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – and other organizations.
NATO also exchanges views with the OSCE's Action against Terrorism Unit.
Working with aviation authorities
The use of civilian aircraft as a weapon on 11 September 2001 brought NATO to heighten awareness of such forms of terrorism and enhance aviation security. NATO's anti-terrorism efforts include improving civil-military coordination of air traffic control by working with EUROCONTROL, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association so that information is shared and action taken more effectively.