Solidifying Colombia’s Place in NATO
On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Colombia’s President Iván Duque Márquez was welcomed to NATO headquarters for the first time, representing the first and only Latin American country to solidify membership with NATO. In their joint press conference with the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Colombia and NATO strengthened and clarified their alliance. The Secretary General noted, “Our cooperation is good for Colombia and it is good for NATO. It is based on our common values and a shared commitment to international peace and security.”
Colombia officially joined NATO on May 31, a year after drafting a partnership agreement. Colombia is a NATO "global partner” , meaning they will not necessarily take part in military action, but will be fully accredited in Brussels and participate in military training. Other global partners include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Iraq.
NATO and Colombia cooperation has been successful in recent history. For instance, in 2015, Colombia took part in NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield countering piracy off the horn of Africa. They are also committed to NATO’s Building Integrity program to increase transparency in defense institutions.
Colombia hopes to benefit from the scope of the alliance through training and modernization through programs such as the NATO School in Germany and NATO Defense College in Italy. To become a partner, Colombian military had to take on a process of updating, aligning, and building a joint military doctrine. Integrity building is vital through transparency, anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and international supervision.
NATO seeks to better understand Colombia’s expertise in countering explosive devices which can be employed to support Afghanistan. In joint efforts, Colombia and NATO plan to cooperate in areas such as cyber defense, drug trafficking, and terrorism. Former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos also noted that “Colombia benefits a lot from being an active part of the international community. Many problems we face are increasingly global and need support and collaboration of other countries for their solutions.”