The 2016 NATO Building Integrity (BI) Discipline Conference was hosted at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) in Stavanger, Norway from 28 to 29 September. The Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (CIDS) organized the conference in cooperation with NATO HQ in Brussels and Allied Command Transformation (ACT). Experts and stakeholders from the NATO command structure, JWC, 1st German-Netherlands Corps, UK Defence Academy, Transparency International, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, NATO’s CIMIC (civil-military) Centre of Excellence, Peace Support Operations Centre, and subject matter experts from the United States and Romania participated in the discussions. Panels on education, training and exercises, as well as on military doctrines, discussed how to counter corruption in a theatre of operations and contributed to the successful conclusion of the conference.
Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff at JWC, Rear Admiral John B. Skillman, welcomed the participants. He pointed out that the aim of the conference was to explore and identify potential solutions for existing gaps in NATO’s Building Integrity Programme in the field of Education and Training requirements, and to further develop BI as a NATO discipline.
“Corruption has grown over the last several decades with devastating effects on, inter alia, security and stability. And leaders worldwide recognize that corruption is a major threat to global security,” said Dr Alberto Bin from NATO’s International Staff.
CIDS’ director, Mr Per Christensen, in his introductory remarks emphasized the operational importance of dealing with corruption. He concluded that an operational commander would have a greater chance of accomplishing the mission objectives if corruption in the area of operations is successfully dealt with.
“If you send out people not prepared to handle corruption, we are in danger of putting them into a very tricky situation, because all of our countries, I think, have legislation that makes it illegal to be involved in corruption, also abroad. So both from a legal and a moral point of view we need to prepare ourselves, and that’s why our conference is so important,” said Mr Christensen.
The conference also focused on refining the implementation of integrity building in education, training and exercises – in NATO as well as among Allies and partner nations.
Dr Alberto Bin spoke about NATO’s BI policy that was endorsed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, and on the development of a follow-up action plan. The audience was reminded that throughout history and across cultures corruption has always existed; however, this phenomenon has grown increasingly sophisticated over the last several decades with devastating effects on security and stability. Leaders worldwide increasingly recognize that corruption is a major threat to global security. An obvious consequence of such recognition is that both NATO and NATO’s partner countries should substantially increase their commitment to fight corruption – “because this has clearly strategic implications and becomes a strategic imperative more and more.”
“At the most recent NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016 our leaders underlined NATO as a community of values. And it is on this basis that those same leaders endorsed a NATO building integrity policy which in our view represents a milestone in terms of NATO’s commitment to strengthen integrity, transparency, and accountability, and good governance in the defence and security sector,” said Dr Bin.
During the two-day conference, integrity building within defence institutions and in military operations was discussed with a view to updating the annual BI Discipline Alignment Plan (ADP). To reach a common understanding of the overall education and training challenges, as well as agreeing on what actions should be taken in order to meet future challenges, were among the most central topics. Following the NATO BI Policy that was endorsed at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, work on an implementation plan is in progress. This plan will ensure that measures needed to bring BI to the next level will be properly addressed. The objective is good governance in the defence sector, as well as an increased awareness of the consequences of a lack of integrity and high standards in defence institutions as well as in military operations.