NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept identifies cooperative security as one of “three essential core tasks” to be achieved in part “through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organizations around the globe”. To facilitate the construction of this broader network of partners, the Alliance adopted a new partnership policy in April 2011, designed to facilitate “more efficient and flexible” partnership arrangements. The policy offers a number of new tools to foster the cooperative security efforts deemed so critical under the new strategic concept and permits potential and existing partners an opportunity to shape their own relationships with NATO. In so doing, however, it moves the Alliance toward less differentiation between partners and fails to clarify the role of like-minded partners in preserving and extending the liberal security order that NATO’s initial partnerships were designed to enlarge.

Key Words

NATO, strategic concept, partnership policy, Partnership for Peace, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.


Meeting in Berlin in April 2011, NATO foreign ministers adopted a new partnership policy designed to facilitate “more efficient and flexible” partnership arrangements with NATO’s growing and increasingly diverse assortment of partners. The new policy served to fulfill a pledge taken at the Lisbon summit in 2010 to enhance NATO’s partnerships further by “develop[ing] political dialogue and practical cooperation with any nations and relevant organisations across the globe that share [the Allies’] interest in peaceful international relations.”