Joint NATO-Colombia workshop on counter-terrorism at sea

Dr Deniz Beten, Senior NATO SPS and Partnership Cooperation Advisor, speaks at the advanced research workshop “Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction”. Copenhagen, May 2019. Credit: NATO

Experts from both NATO and Colombia came together in Copenhagen at the end of May for a joint workshop sponsored by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme. This was in support to Colombia’s Armed Forces in their struggle against maritime piracy and narcotics.

South American and Caribbean waters have endured a steady rise in piracy and narcotics trafficking, over the past few years, with a concentration of incidents in Colombian waters. Experts from the Royal Danish Defence College in Copenhagen and the Colombian National War College in Bogota held a research workshop titled “Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics interdiction” as a response to this issue.

The workshop aimed to assist Colombian maritime officials by providing advice on how to protect critical maritime infrastructure, for example ports, supplies, and personnel from acts of terrorism.

Colombian Navy, rear admiral Orlando Grisales commented at the workshop, “protecting our seas will contribute to protecting our societies and preserve trade fluxes and exchanges, but will also enhance our opportunities to address critical issues for Colombia such as drug trafficking and piracy.”

This is the first joint scientific project between NATO and Colombia and highlighted the need to approach maritime security from a broader angle and to incorporate lessons learned from domains such as maritime narcotics trafficking and piracy, in order to effectively tackle seaborne terrorism.

Dr Deniz Beten, senior NATO SPS and partnership cooperation advisor said, “Colombia’s own extensive experience with counter-narcotics, asymmetric warfare and counter-terrorism is invaluable to other participants, likewise, Colombia is ready to consult and cooperate with nations that have practice and experience in the field.”