Warsaw Summit 2016 and the Evolution of NATO's Role in Euro-Atlantic Counter-Terrorism Cooperation (1)


The very essence of NATO’s role in Euro-Atlantic counter-terrorism (CT) is to protect Allied nations and their citizens from terrorist threat. In the New Strategic Concept (NSC), which was adopted at Lisbon Summit (2010) CT was recognized as a mission by NATO....

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Giray SADIK
Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University

Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University

1. Introduction

The very essence of NATO’s role in Euro-Atlantic counter-terrorism (CT) is to protect Allied nations and their citizens from terrorist threat. In the New Strategic Concept (NSC), which was adopted at Lisbon Summit (2010) CT was recognized as a mission by NATO. The NSC specifies terrorism as a direct threat to the security of the Allies (2). In this regard, Lisbon gave a momentum for further improvement in CT and thus followed by Chicago Summit (2012) in which NATO leaders confirmed the new policy guidelines on counter-terrorism titled ‘Aware, Capable and Engaged for a Safer Future’ (3). The new policy guidelines introduced new developments into NATO’s CT agenda. Since then, NATO’s role in Euro-Atlantic CT cooperation (CTC) has been evolving particularly by establishing new units in intelligence sharing (IS), enhancing the capacity to deter and defend against terrorism and enhancing cooperation with partners and other international organizations (IOs). Although the steps taken were in the right direction, effectiveness of NATO’s contribution to Euro-Atlantic CTC is still a matter of debate in the literature. As recent terrorist attacks in Europe have demonstrated, NATO needs to do more in Euro-Atlantic CTC to protect its members.
NATO’s effective contribution to CTC matters for its strategic relevance. This argument had been emphasized by many authors including Gordon who states: “while the anti-terrorism campaign changes NATO’s character and carries many risks, it also demonstrates NATO’s continued utility and provides an opportunity to renovate and give new life to an alliance whose future was uncertain (4)“. Similarly, Lugar acknowledges the role of an effective counterterrorism strategy regarding the strategic relevance of NATO (5). As Bennett argues, NATO’s strategic relevance is increasingly measured by its contribution to the fight against terrorism (6). Additionally, effective CT strategy requires cooperation.
In other words, cooperation is a sine qua non for an effective counter-terrorism strategy (7). In addition to its vitality for an effective CT strategy, cooperation is also crucial for NATO to remain strategically relevant. Although the importance of CTC has been widely accepted within the literature, importance of intra-alliance cooperation regarding NATO and its strategic relevance has been underemphasized.
Noting that “…effective Transatlantic counter-terrorism cooperation among the Allies is the key to maintaining NATO as a strategically relevant organization for their security…8“, Sadık observed the relationship between the intra-alliance cooperation and NATO’s strategic relevance. Thus, this research, by acknowledging the argument above, argues that CTC among the Allies is essential not only because it is an end itself but also means to an end to achieve an effective CT strategy. In a broader context, as long as terrorism continues to be a threat to the security of the Allies, NATO needs to do more to enhance intra-alliance cooperation against terrorism for the sake of its strategic relevance. In other words, If, NATO, as an alliance in charge with protecting its members, cannot assure the security of its members, it would become strategically irrelevant. Additionally, enhancing intra-alliance counter-terrorism cooperation is crucial to keep NATO as a cohesive alliance.

(1) An earlier version of this research was presented at EISA PEC2017 Conference, Barcelona.
(2) Active Engagement, Modern Defence, Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 19-20 November 2010, http://www.nato.int/strategic-concept/pdf/Strat_Concept_web_en.pdf (accessed 12 August 2017).
(3) “NATO’s policy guidelines on counter-terrorism - Aware, Capable and Engaged for a Safer Future“, 21 May 2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_87905.htm?(accessed 12 August 2017).4 Philip Gordon, “NATO After September 11“, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 43, no:4
(2001):89, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00396330112331343145
(5) Richard G. Lugar, “Redefining NATO’s Mission- Preventing WMD Terrorism“, Washington
Quarterly 25,(2002): 13.
(6) Christopher Bennett, “Combatting Terrorism“, NATO Review, 5-7, www. nato.int/review
(accessed 12 August 2017).
(7) Sascha Dov Bachmann and Hakan Gunneriusson, “Hybrid Wars: The 21st Century’s New
Threats to Global Peace and Security“, Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military
Studies, 43 (2015): 77- 98.
(8) Giray Sadık, “How Can Counter-terrorism Cooperation Contribute to NATO’s Strategic
Concept“, (Selected Papers Terrorism Experts Conference), (2016): 114-128

Link to the related book: New Security Ecosystem and Multilateral Cost


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