One of the less heralded benefits of the watershed changes in the international security equation—enabled twenty years ago as a result of the demise of Soviet rule—has been the reappraisal of the notion that the end always justifies the means. The end purpose of all defence efforts shifted from withstanding and defeating a known mighty enemy to ensuring wider security in an unstable and multipolar world. Concomitantly, new light was shed on the means to achieve a more comprehensive security. New notions such as human security and good governance became more central in the efforts of governments and the international community to help the transition from a Cold War posture to better working societies confronting the challenges of globalisation.
NATO and its member states contributed to this evolution. The alliance opened itself up to new partnerships and memberships. As it started adapting its structures, as member states downsized and reoriented their armed forces, more and more attention was also devoted to the pressing reform needs of its potential future members and active partners. The reform of the security sector was first encouraged among NATO’s former potential foes. But as reforms progressed, a wider approach was taken to the full range of transformations underway. These range from the parliamentary oversight of the armed forces to the furtherance of international humanitarian law, as well as the many necessary interactions between the military and civilians, defence institutions, police, civil society, international organisations and NGOs.
This much wider approach to the workings of the security sector and all its actors soon led to a better understanding of what it takes to optimise security and maximise returns on political, economic and social investments in the stabilisation of conflicts and tensions. Ethics were better seen as being instrumental in furthering the end goal of lasting security. NGOs such as Transparency International (TI) rose to new levels of acceptance and respect and a number of governments decided to focus more keenly on the promises borne by a new spirit of openness and efficiency. A new initiative was thus launched within the EAPC/PfP framework, whose title is self-explanatory: Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption Risk in the Defence Establishments. This initiative and its related Trust Fund, led by Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, are an important part and extension of the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB) chapter of cooperation established some years ago after the Istanbul Summit. The needs in this field appear to be considerable and must be taken into account in the new areas of operation of NATO and some of its partners.
The work undertaken under this heading by the NATO International Secretariat and the participating countries has from the start been enabled and strengthened by external actors such as TI, the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), which has produced the present Building Integrity Compendium. Indeed, DCAF has developed expertise in matters related to transparency building, expressed in a good number of publications, among which are the Handbook for Parliamentarians co-published with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in some 50 languages, as well as the DCAF-NATO Parliamentary Assembly handbook “Oversight and Guidance,” now under revision and slated to be re-published in 2010 as yet another Swiss PfP contribution. More generally, DCAF’s commitment to the PAP-DIB action plan is evidenced by manifold contributions and inputs in a wide number of cases benefiting individual countries as well as the Euro-Atlantic community as a whole. Together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), as well as the abovementioned partners, DCAF has organised a number of seminars and conferences to take stock, reveal best practices and launch integrity in defence management programmes.
Alongside its NATO partners, the Swiss government, for its part, is committed to supporting DCAF and the GCSP and to furthering the aims of the PAP-DIB action plan in the fields of integrity and transparency building. The task that lies ahead remains as large and complex as the imperfections of human nature. But the results collectively achieved so far in the fields of defence reform, stabilisation of conflict-prone regions and the extension of international cooperation bear witness to the promise encapsulated in this worthy compendium.
Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel
Head of the Swiss Mission to NATO