The Washington Declaration on Defense Cooperation







U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and NZ Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman signed the Washington Declaration on Defense Cooperation on June 19, 2012 at the Pentagon.  The agreement provides a framework and common vision for cooperation to strengthen and expand the bilateral defense relationship.

The Declaration marks the first time in more than 30 years that the United States and New Zealand have entered into a formal defense agreement.

It reflects a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region and common approaches to address the region’s defense and security issues, including contemporary non-traditional security challenges.

Like the Wellington Declaration (signed in 2010), the Washington Declaration opens dialogues that include the exchange of information, strategic perspectives, and defense policies.

It includes collaboration on issues such as maritime security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping support operations.

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Text of the Washington Declaration on Defense Cooperation


The Department of Defense of the United States of America


The Ministry of Defense of New Zealand and the New Zealand Defense Force

 June 19, 2012

The Department of Defense of the United States of America (U.S. Department of Defense), and for New Zealand the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force (hereafter referred to collectively as “the Participants”):

  1. Reaffirming the Wellington Declaration of November 2010, which established a new United States-New Zealand strategic partnership to shape future practical cooperation and political dialogue;
  2. Reaffirming the strong defense relations between the Participants based on a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region and common approaches to address the region’s defense and security issues, including contemporary non-traditional security challenges;
  3. Reaffirming the long-term intent to promote and strengthen closer bilateral defense and security cooperation;
  4. Acknowledging the areas of common interest and mutually beneficial practical cooperation that already exist between the Participants;
  5. Desiring to contribute to the objective of this Declaration by expanding existing practical defense and security cooperation activities; and
  6. Respecting the effective laws and regulations of the other Participant;

Have reached the following understandings:



This Declaration is based on the following principles shared by the Participants:

  1. The bilateral defense relationship between the Participants is based on full respect for the independence, self-reliance, and sovereignty of each Participant, and is in the spirit of the long-standing friendship, mutual respect, trust, and understanding that exists between the two countries;
  2. An enduring defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and New Zealand is of significant benefit to both nations and to the region; and
  3. A deepening relationship between defense establishments contributes to improved international relations, strengthens our overall bilateral relationship, and enhances regional peace, stability, cooperation, and development.



The purposes of this Declaration are to:

  1. Provide a framework for cooperation to focus, strengthen, and expand the bilateral defense relationship;
  2. Promote a common vision that shapes the Participants’ intent to expand practical bilateral defense cooperation;
  3. Provide a mechanism to identify and implement new areas of defense cooperation, as intended by both Participants; and
  4. Serve as the overarching framework to plan and execute defense cooperation.



In pursuit of a shared vision of a stronger and deeper bilateral defense relationship, the Participants’ defense establishments intend to work towards expanded defense cooperation initially focusing on the following areas:

  1. The establishment of regular, senior-level, strategic policy dialogues between the U.S. Department of Defense and the New Zealand Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force; and
  2. Security Cooperation.

To expand cooperation in these areas, the Participants intend to:

  1. Ensure the Participants’ capabilities are able to counter traditional and non-traditional threats to their security interests;
  2. Build the Participants’ maritime security presence and capabilities;
  3. Strengthen the Participants’ regional situational awareness in order to contribute to the Participants’ national defense and enhanced regional security related to issues such as natural disasters;
  4. Cooperate in the development of the Participants’ deployable capabilities, in support of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific; and
  5. Share information and ideas to support future security cooperation opportunities.
  6. Affirm that the Participants are prepared to respond in accordance with national approval processes in a timely and effective way to the range of contingencies that may arise in the region, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and multilateral cooperation with regional partners’ armed forces.



Activities under this Declaration are to be led by the respective Participants’ implementing authorities.

The implementing authorities each have the responsibility to develop individual plans with concrete steps towards conducting bilateral and multilateral activities in key areas of cooperation.

The implementing authorities intend to use this Declaration and other bilateral mechanisms to develop additional plans, as necessary and appropriate, to expand defense cooperation into additional areas beyond the areas identified herein.

These plans are to serve as clear roadmaps for the Participants to achieve the common vision of a growing practical bilateral defense relationship.




The Participants, to the extent authorized by their respective laws, intend to work towards expanded bilateral cooperation by pursuing the following kinds of activities:

1. Defense Dialogues

    • Exchange information and strategic perspectives; and
    • Increase understanding of the respective defense policies of each Participant through, for example, personnel exchanges

2. Security Cooperation

a. Maritime Security Cooperation

    • Share information and expertise;
    • Cooperate in maritime security and safety activities; and
    • Participate in bilateral and multilateral exercises, operations, and training opportunities, including those related to counter-proliferation, counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, addressing regional resource exploitation, and supporting freedom of commerce and navigation.

b. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Cooperation with a focus on the Asia-Pacific and

    • Share information and expertise;
    • Plan for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities; and
    • Conduct bilateral and multilateral conferences, activities, and operational-level exercises to increase Participants’ cross-domain interoperability.

c. United Nations and other multi-national peacekeeping and peace support operations

    • Share information and expertise; and
    • Exercise and train to maintain cross-domain interoperability both between the Participants as well as multilaterally.