Countering Terrorism

The fight against terrorism is high on NATO’s agenda. Both the Strategic Concept¹ and the Lisbon Summit Declaration² make clear that terrorism poses a real and serious threat to the security and safety of the Alliance and its members. NATO will continue to fight this scourge, individually and collectively, in accordance with international law and the principles of the UN Charter. NATO’s new Policy Guidelines for Alliance work on counter-terrorism focus on improved threat awareness, adequate capabilities and enhanced engagement with partner countries and other international actors.

Terrorism is a global threat that knows no border, nationality or religion. It is therefore a challenge that the international community must tackle together. Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, NATO has been actively engaged in the fight against terrorism. In response to those attacks, NATO invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the Alliance’s collective defence clause, for the first time in its history. The North Atlantic Council (NAC), the Alliance’s principal political decision-making body, decides on NATO’s overall role in the fight against terrorism.

The multifaceted nature of terrorism is such that NATO has engaged in a number of initiatives – political, operational, conceptual, military, technological and scientific – to address this issue. The creation of the Emerging Security Challenges Division within NATO Headquarters in August 2010 reflects NATO’s intent to deal with a growing range of non-traditional risks and challenges, including terrorism, in a cross-cutting manner.  NATO has since agreed new Policy Guidelines on Counter-Terrorism, which were endorsed at the Chicago Summit in May 2012.

The Alliance contributes to the international community’s fight against terrorism in several ways. First, NATO is a permanent transatlantic consultation forum, capable of transforming discussions into collective decisions and action. Second, NATO has at its disposal unique military and civilian capabilities that can contribute to fighting terrorism or managing the consequences of an attack. Third, NATO cooperates as part of a very large network of partnerships involving other states and international organizations.