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ORIGINAL: ENGLISH 2nd May 1963
Attached is a study, prepared in the Research Section on the above-mentioned subject. This study, approved by the Secretary General, surveys the evolution of the principles and methods of NATO political consultation; it is not, however, a history of the issues consulted on during the period under review.
2. The present document is based on International Secretariat papers, discussions of the Council and the Committee of Political Advisers and on various Reports on NATO political consultation. It consists of two parts:
3. Any proposed corrections or additions should be communicated to Mr. Van Campen, Historical Officer, Political Affairs Division.
THE EVOLUTION OF NATO POLITICAL CONSULTATION
16. The Lisbon decisions have been widely published and discussed elsewhere. For present purposes they may be summarised in two points:
The potential importance of these changes for the subject under review is obvious. Nevertheless, document C9-D/4(Final) which discusses at some length the duties and the terms of reference of the new Council, the Secretary General and the Secretariat, makes no mention of any particular duties or tasks in the field of political consultation and co-ordination. Again, when the document says that the Permanent Representative should in any case be sufficiently close to his Government and entrusted with adequate authority to enable the Council to discharge its collective tasks as a body and to reach prompt decisions, the political aspect of NATO co-operation did not merit specific mention.
17. The appointment of a Secretary General in the mechanism added a second element to the mechanism of political of political consultation. In this connection it is not really relevant that the Secretary General only subsequently became Chairman of the Ministerial, as well as of the ordinary meetings of the Council. The fact that the Council Deputies had already a Chairman in the person of Mr. Spofford, the United States Deputy should not confuse the issue. The point is that Mr. Spofford acted in a dual capacity, being not only Chairman but national representative as well. With the appointment of a Secretary General this dualism was suppressed; and thus the Alliance as a whole obtained a spokesman of its own at the Council table. Whether this was the intention of those responsible for the Lisbon re-organization proposals need not be decided here (10); in the long run, it was the reality which emerged out of this re-organization. A somewhat similar observation may be made as regards the appointment of the Permanent Representatives. It is certainly true that some Council Deputies were already solely concerned with NATO affairs. But the case of others was different. The Lisbon re-organization created a uniform body of Permanent Representatives with undivided responsibilities and this fact promoted the subsequent development of NATO political consultation. In this connection, a comparison with the situation existing in other organizations like CENTO and SEATO is instructive.
18. The position immediately after the Lisbon
Conference can be summarised as follows:
19. One of the first duties of the Secretary General, Lord Ismay, was the organization of the International Secretariat. In organizing this Secretariat, the Secretary General created a third component in the mechanism of political consultation: the Division of Political Affairs. The creation of this Division required no specific Council decision but on 16th July, 1952 (11) the Council approved, the Secretary General's proposals in general, although they did not commit themselves as to the exact terms of reference for the divisions and sections of the Staff. As a matter of fact, as time went by, both the organization of the divisions in general and of the Political Affairs Division in particular and their terms of reference were modified. It is, however, of interest to reproduce here the terms of reference as approved in 1952. The Division of Political Affairs (without the Information Service) was to comprise three sections, with the following terms of reference:
20. Thus, Section I was to prepare draft Reports for the "Political Committee". However, at that time the Council was its own Political Committee; and there was until 1957 no such Body as the present Committee of Political Advisers. Document C-M(52)26 of 6th June, 1952, shows that the Secretary General wanted the Council to establish a Political Committee at the time but the subsequent discussion on 11th June, 1952, (C-R(52)8, III) revealed the Council's unwillingness to do this. In fact, then and later, - the most recent case is the establishment of the Atlantic Policy Advisory Group - the Council made clear its feeling that it should be and should remain the principal forum of political consultation and that a group or committee of political advisers was only acceptable to them provided its subordinate character to the Council was made crystal-clear (12). Again, Section II was supposed to concern itself with relations with the European Defence Community. Since this Community never saw daylight, this part of the Division's terms of reference was not brought into effect.
21. As regards the purposes of political consultation in the second stage, it is probably not necessary to say much about this point here. Presumably, the principles of the Pearson Committee, as approved by the Council, were now to be realised. It was the feeling of some of the smaller powers that the system and practices of NATO political consultation should be used as a means for developing new habits among the great powers, and in particular, to induce them to discuss matters of high policy in which they alone carried the possibility of decision with their smaller Alliance partners, before final agreement was reached among themselves.
In his first progress report, covering the period between April and 30th, November, 1952 (13) the Secretary General himself distinguished between political questions on which decisions were reached on the one hand and exchanges of views on political matters on which decisions were not required, or which, while of common interest to the member nations, were not directly related to the NATO area. Both categories of questions he considered obviously as appropriate subjects of political consultation in the Council.
This much, then is clear; the question, however, was whether governments were willing to bring these principles into effect.
22. There is ample evidence that political consultation in NATO during the second stage did not develop along the lines set out by the 1951 Pearson Committee; nor did it satisfactorily meet the demands of the world situation.
Thus, in February, 1953, Lord Ismay had the impression that certain member countries tended to consider the Organization as a purely statistical body whose unique purpose was to gather data and figures on the defence efforts of the member countries. He, on the contrary, believed that the Secretariat could and should assume a task of broader scope - that of maintaining political unity between the allies. The Political Division should assist the Secretary General and the Council in developing political co-operation between the allies. Accordingly, the Division should define the political problems affecting the Alliance and keep files on these questions (14).
23. Again, during the Bermuda Conference of December 1953, President Eisenhower was reported to have expressed the view to Lord Ismay that the Council should consider all matters, including those involving national policies, which could in any way affect NATO operations. Mr. Dulles reputedly endorsed this opinion. This suggestion was nothing new, the Pearson Committee had suggested as much long before. The Secretariat once again considered:
After appropriate soundings, the Secretariat arrived at the conclusion that no special action of delegations could be expected, nor could they obtain any certainty as to whether delegations were prepared to circulate informally papers on political subjects, i.e. in preparation of subsequent Council discussions.
Yet, at that very time several of the great powers in NATO were said to be ready to interject a political consciousness into Council meetings. That these discussions had not materialised to any fully useful proportions was due to the smaller nations who, in many cases, were reluctant to enter into any exchange of views involving political matters.
This latter statement may seem to be in contradiction with what was said at the end of paragraph 21 above about the desire of the smaller powers for genuine consultation with the great powers in the Alliance on matters of high policy. If so, the contradiction originates in the attitude of some of the smaller powers who sometimes desired to be informed but were unwilling to express their own opinions. When Mr. Spaak, in 1960, deprecated what he termed "le refus d'opinion", he referred to this particular phenomenon (15).
24. Similarly, in 1954, the Ministerial Council adopted a Resolution (23rd April, 1954, C-M(54)38), recommending that:
26. These hesitations and reservations on global consultation could not have come as a surprise to the Council. Two years before, at the December Ministerial meeting of 1952, the French Delegation introduced a Resolution on Indo-China (C-M(52)140) which may, or may not, have been in line with Mr. Bidault's opinion expressed above. But both on that occasion and during the Ministerial meeting of April 1953, where the subject of Indo-China was further discussed, some strong reservations were expressed, not so much on the principle, but the possible implications of world-wide consultation. In fact, both in 1952 and 1954, the discussions revealed a certain confusion between the extension of consultation, on the one hand, and of the commitments of Member Countries, on the other. The same confusion could be observed on subsequent occasions, e.g. during the Long-Term Planning Exercise of 1960.(16)
27. In these circumstances, there was an understandable feeling in the International Secretariat that the passing of this Resolution did not in itself advance the possibility of broadening the base of political consultation. They felt, however, encouraged in the first place to concentrate again on implementing procedures for regular discussions of political matters in the Council and, in the second, to try again to broaden the scope of political consultation.
28. Accordingly, Lord Ismay produced a personal and confidential note to the Permanent Representatives on 19th June, 1954, as follows:
29. This note was discussed in the private meeting of the Council of 23rd June, 1954. The Secretary General recalled that recently informal discussions had tended to grow less frequent since no Permanent Representatives of late had insisted on their continuation. For his part, he was most anxious to reinstate informal discussions and he suggested, therefore, that the Council meet informally in a small room after every formal meeting. On 30th June, 1954, in private session, the Council approved this suggestion.
30. In 1955, a good deal of consultation went on in the Council at Permanent and Ministerial levels in connection with the Four-Power meetings at Geneva, in particular on Germany, disarmament, security and East/West relations but it was still obvious that the degree of political consultation achieved in the Council gave rise to dissatisfaction in some quarters. For instance, in January 1956, Mr. Lange, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, in a public interview said that the brink of war assertions of Mr. Dulles showed a compelling need for more consultation and candour among all North Atlantic Treaty Members; he suggested that the willingness of some of the small nations to share the obligations of NATO might be in direct proportion to the frequency and frankness of discussions of political developments of concern to all. He also deprecated the practice among bigger NATO members of treating as purely internal affairs some problems that seemed to him clearly in the field of foreign affairs. And finally, he observed that although NATO was created to deter aggression against any of the North Atlantic Treaty nations by united action he did not feel that co-operation should remain inactive until there was clear evidence of aggression.
31. The preceding evidence suggests that throughout the second stage the range and depth of political consultation within NATO did not live up to the criteria laid down by the Pearson Committee of 1951. This impression is confirmed by the statements - or lack of statements - of the Secretary General in his Progress Reports for the period 1952-l957. For instance, in his two Reports on 1953 (17) not a single word was said on the subject of political consultation. However, at the end of 1954 (18) the Secretary General stressed the role of the Council in permanent session as a forum for political consultation, and he mentioned, in particular, the co-ordinating role of the Council in the exchange of notes with the Soviet Union and, on the other hand, the full information given to the Council on the Berlin Conference and on arrangements to be adopted in substitution of the European Defence Community. He expressed the hope "that the scope of political consultation will be further extended in the future and that governments will not hesitate to bring before the Council any political matters which affect NATO directly or indirectly." At the end of 1955 (19) the Secretary General stressed the continuing importance of political consultation in NATO and added that governments had made a point of reporting to the Council any political matters which affected NATO directly or indirectly. But in his Report of April 1956 (20) the reference to political consultation was extremely brief and although the following report of 4th December, 1956 (21) mentioned the great number of Council private meetings on political consultation, it may be doubted whether, having regard to the international situation (Suez) this statement is a positive testimonial to political consultation at that time. Finally, Lord Ismay's pronouncement in C-M(56)60 of 24th April, 1956, should not be overlooked: "Nevertheless, it must be recognised that the practice of consultation in the Council has not, as yet, developed sufficiently to meet demands of political changes and world trends".
32. The number of subjects, not directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty and outside the NATO area, increased compared to the First Stage, very sharply indeed. Such subjects, discussed both in plenary and private meetings of the Council ranged far and wide: the Far East, United Kingdom negotiations with South Africa on bases, development in Guatemala, Indo-China and the Netherlands/Indonesian controversy on New Guinea, were among the issues discussed.
As regards issues directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty, particular mention should be made of discussions on disarmament, the Berlin Conference of 1952, the Bermuda Conference of 1953 and the Geneva Conferences of 1955. Nevertheless, many of such problems were not fully discussed, or were only the subject of statements by one or more Permanent Representatives without a subsequent genuine exchange of views. In other words, on many problems there was information (sometimes after the event, not consultation, and the statistical analysis prepared by the International Staff for the Committee of Three in 1956 confirms this conclusion (22).
In this connection one cannot overlook the Suez affair
on which consultation or even information was notoriously insufficient
and even, at times, non-existent.(23)
In fact, the Suez affair demonstrated that the general and continuous
character of political consultation was not assured.
33. It is of interest to say a word or two on the role of the Secretary General at the Bermuda Conference of December 1953. The Secretary General announced his departure for Bermuda, "to attend, as observer, the meeting of the President of the United States and the Prime Ministers of France and the United Kingdom". In point of fact, however, his mission on that occasion went somewhat beyond that of an observer. At that time there was a certain feeling abroad that the military threat posed by the USSR had diminished. The possible implications of this rather general impression were, of course, of concern to the Alliance and the Secretary General had prepared a memorandum on the subject (C-M(53)87) of 25th June, 1953) which was discussed by the Council. As a result, Lord Ismay was to persuade the conferring leaders at Bermuda that the expectancy or reality of a detente should not impair the allied defence efforts and to impress upon them that NATO should remain the cornerstone of both foreign and defence policies of the West. The Secretary General was expected by the Council to make clear that no decisions were to be taken until the Council had had the opportunity of examining them. (24)
34. Taking the period as a whole, it can on the certainly not be said that the principles and the objectives set but by the Pearson Committee, approved in 1952, reaffirmed in 1954, were fully or even partly realised. It was precisely this in conjunction with the growing interest in Article 2 of the Treaty which led to the establishment of the Committee of Three Wise Men which may well be regarded as the dividing line between the second and third stages in the evolution of NATO political consultation.
35. During the Second Stage the Council developed three kinds of meetings to deal with political affairs. They were:
The number of restricted and informal meetings of the
Council throughout the second stage was as follows:
36. During the Second Stage, the practice also developed, in the event of international conferences in which some NATO powers participated, to have the Council informed by the Permanent Representatives or by the Foreign Minister of one of the participating powers. For instance, on the occasion of the Geneva Conferences of 1955, the three NATO governments represented at Geneva "kept their partners in touch with their thinking during the period of preparation. On both occasions, the Foreign Ministers of these three countries personally discussed their plans with their partners before proceeding to the Conference, and the Council in permanent session was fully and frankly informed of all that had transpired."(25) Similarly, on 27th February, 1954, immediately after the Berlin Conference, Mr. Bidault gave Permanent Representatives a full account of what had transpired at the Conference and on 16th September, 1954, Sir Anthony Eden informed the Council of his discussions in a number of European capitals on the subject of arrangements which were to be adopted in substitution of the EDC.
37. There was already occasion to stress the rôle of the Secretary General as an additional component in the mechanism of political consultation. His mission at Bermuda has been referred to; it was his memorandum which initiated the discussions in the Council; he also, on several occasions, instructed the Political Affairs Division to prepare papers on certain problems which were, or might become, of topical interest; thus, the Political Affairs Division acted as a third element in the consultation process.
38. In conclusion, a word on the rôle of Permanent Representatives. Above, stress has already been laid on the great importance of the NATO powers being represented on the Council by officials with undivided duties and responsibilities. At the end of his term of office, Lord Ismay stressed the fact that the Permanent Council could not operate with full efficiency unless governments were prepared:
39. Political consultations, although the main subject of this paper, is but a part of the whole chapter of non-military co-operation within NATO. It should, therefore, be noted that towards the end of the second stage there was a growing insistence on the necessity of implementing the economic and social provisions laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty; and this insistence was, of course, not unrelated to international developments in general and to the emerging détente in particular. As early as 1954 an International Secretariat paper stated that "the Alliance begins its sixth year with its military aspects already in the levelling-off stage, (and) political considerations affecting the Organization (assuming) new proportions of importance." Article 2 had, so to speak, become a sort of banner symbolising all the non-military objectives of the Alliance; and it was the developing international situation which induced the Alliance partners to turn their attention to matters of non-military co-operation, within NATO.
This relation is clearly brought out by certain paragraphs of the Final Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting held at Paris, 4th and 5th May, 1956. The Communiqué mentioned NATO's success in preventing the aggressive intentions of the Soviets in Europe and in contributing to the adoption by the Soviet Government of a policy of so-called peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, security remained an essential problem and the Atlantic Powers would continue giving priority to the maintenance of their unity and their forces:
In these circumstances, the Committees of Three was brought into being; its members were Mr. Lester Pearson, Mr. G. Martino and Mr. H.Lange, Foreign Ministers respectively of Canada, Italy and Norway.
40. The Committee of Three Ministers worked from Committee May until December 1956. Their Report and Recommendations have been published: it is therefore unnecessary to reiterate their considerations and conclusions (26). Similarly Annex I of the published Report gives an outline of the Committee's working methods and procedures. Nevertheless the following points merit special attention.
(a) The Committee took pains to make it clear to Member Governments (27) that they did not have in mind "such structural changes as would involve re-negotiation of the Treaty"; and, in another context, they again said they realised the difficulty of trying to re-negotiate the Treaty at this time; they aimed at proposals which could be implemented without revision of the Treaty. In other words, the Committee throughout examined the whole problem of NATO political consultation within the existing constitutional structure of the Organization, i.e. an inter-governmental structure in which fifteen nations participate, none of which has given up their right of free and independent judgment in international affairs.
(b) On this basis, the Committee sent a questionnaire to Member Governments, referred to in the Committee's Report, and which formulated a certain number of questions on, inter alia, issues of political consultation. In view of its great interest as an indication of the Committee's thinking and purposes, the full text of this questionnaire is reproduced at Annex I. In their replies, Member Governments, while agreeing in principle to most of the Committee's suggestions in the field of principles, added many qualifications as regards their application; and they showed much hesitation as to the desirability of adding to existing machinery (28).
(c) The Committee had also the benefit of some outside proposals, transferred to them by the Secretary General; among these should be mentioned a proposal of Dr. Kurt Hahn for the setting up of NATO colleges, and a Memorandum on "The strengthening of NATO", summarising some conclusions resulting from Professor Louis V. Sohn's seminar on "The international regional organizations" conducted at Havard Law School since 1951. Finally, in response to the Committee's request, the International Secretariat prepared studies on a number of problems which are listed at Annex II.
41. The Committee's Report, its Recommendations and the relevant Council Resolution have been published. This is not so for the Committee's letter of transmittal, and, of course, the Council discussion on the Report and Recommendations.
42. In its letter of transmittal, the Committee referred in strong terms to the deterioration in political co-operation between NATO governments since May 1956. With a clear reference to the Suez affair, they said:
The Committee, repeating that a basic purpose of NATO should be to prevent crises between its members, to unify its members in the face of crises provoked by others and to be capable of operating effectively in conditions of crises, then reiterated the stress laid in the Report on the necessity of developing the practice of political consultation; they warned that the Report could do no more than suggest a framework for consultation - it was up to Member Governments to make full use of the means provided by NATO (29) .
43. Let us now consider some of the points made in the Council discussion of the Committee's Report.
(1) The decision to publish the Report was not taken without hesitation. The published text is not quite the same as the one submitted to the Council - a fact which should not be overlooked when the detailed history of the Committee of Three is written;
(2) Doubts were expressed on the Committee's suggestion (paragraphs 50 and 51 of the published text) that before any policy was adopted which might affect others, there must be prior consultation in the Council. The United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, could accept this in principle but there were constitutional factors in the case of the United States which would not permit this principle to be followed literally on all occasions; moreover, the United States had defence agreements with forty-four nations, of which thirty were not members of NATO. Consultation before action, he said, was desirable but there were times when action had to be taken so quickly as to eliminate the possibility of full consultation. The United States, however, were ready to discuss and explain their policies in the Council on every situation in the world which could be foreseen.
(3) The German Foreign Minister von Brentano suggested that the Secretary General should be invited to propose a system whereby the procedure for the Annual Review and that for the Annual Political Review should be more closely related, and to consider, in particular, to what extent the Annual Political Review should be prepared on the basis of questionnaires submitted to governments. But this idea of a formalised Annual Political Review was not supported; in fact, the French Delegation was even disturbed by the paragraph recommending that the Secretary General, should report on the extent to which Member Governments had consulted and co-operated or had failed to do so. It was, in particular, the words "failed do so" which the French disliked. The Committee of Three thought the objection valid and accordingly the words "objected to" do not figure in paragraph 53(b) of the published Report.
(4) Mr.Selwyn Lloyd had asked whether consultation on problems not of direct concern to all the members of the Alliance implied that there would be any common responsibility for decisions taken or whether the responsibility for decisions would remain with the countries directly concerned with the particular problem. The Committee felt that in cases of consultation on matters of common interest to the whole of NATO, there would be common responsibility for decisions taken; where there was no common interest, there would be no common responsibility.
In this connection it is of interest to note that the expressions "common concern", "direct concern" and "common responsibility" will be found in practically all documents on NATO political consultation. Although, both before 1956 and after, efforts were made to arrive at a clear definition of cases where "common interest" did or did not apply, no such definition has ever been agreed on.
44. Thus the Committee's Report and its realisations inaugurated the third period in, the evolution of political consultation. But what, exactly, were the Committee's achievements? First, it reaffirmed, and elaborated (30) on, certain basic thoughts on the function of political consultation in an inter-governmental organization like NATO. In fact, the Report's General Introduction, as well as the Introduction to Chapter II on Political Co-operation, give, so to speak the Committee's philosophy and fundamental conceptions on this point.
45. Second, the Committee increased the power of existing machinery in the field of political consultation and co-operation, namely by increasing the powers of the Secretary General.
46. Third, the Committee created new machinery by establishing a Committee of Political Advisers. Paragraph 56 of the Report of the Three Wise Men makes it quite clear that the new Committee would be subordinate to the Council.(31) Given the Council's insistence on this latter point, the creation of the Committee was an important innovation, which aimed at assisting the Permanent Representatives and the Secretary General in discharging their responsibilities for political consultation.(32)
It surely can be said that the Committee fully justified its rôle in NATO consultation. In fact, the Progress Reports of the Secretary General for 1957 until 1961 emphasize throughout the Committee's success as "an extremely valuable auxiliary".
Their work can be summarised under three headings:
While, perhaps, as between these three categories,
the first two may at times, have been unduly emphasised, the Committee's
achievements clearly show that its work goes well beyond the field of
47. Thus, the stage was set for further development of political consultation armed, as it were, with a newly formulated philosophy, a series of principles/and practices as defined in Article 51 of the Committee's Report and a reinforced and increased machinery.
48. It is generally considered that the Report of the Three Wise Men introduced a period of considerable increase in the scope and depth of NATO political consultation.There is, in fact, no lack of documents on which a fairly exact evaluation of achievements in the Third Stage can be based.
There is, in the first place, the series of the Secretary General's bi-Annual Progress Reports. For instance, the 1958 Report (34) refers to the detailed study of the situation in the Middle East carried out in the Council as an instance of good and efficient consultation. The Council's close association with the preliminary stages of negotiations on a possible Summit meeting is mentioned; as well as the preparations for the meeting itself in committees (35)(36). Again, C-M(59)88 of 5th October, 1959, mentions "the marked and continued activity in the field of political co-operation", with special reference to the Berlin crisis (the Soviet Government's Note of 27th November, 1958) and the general exchanges of Notes between Western powers and the USSR.
Throughout the Reports, mention is made of how the Council was kept informed on certain current events or conferences, either by bi-weekly or weekly reports (Geneva talks on nuclear tests) or by one of the participating Ministers going to the Council to report personally (Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers).
But as against this, we find the Secretary General frequently expressing the hope that "governments concerned should bear in mind the serious disquiet felt by other members of the Alliance should there be a failure to consult the Alliance as a whole on problems of significant interest to NATO". (37)
49. The mass of detailed information given in the progress Reports certainly confirms that in terms of the frequency of meetings and discussions political co-operation did increase. In 1957, for instance, the Permanent Council held 112 meetings, of which 39 were private, almost exclusively devoted to political discussions. Again, in 1958, the Council held 127 meetings, of which 72 were private ones, the latter devoted almost exclusively to political affairs. In 1960, the Council "in private session discussed forty-three different subjects ... the most frequently discussed subjects were disarmament and the Summit Conference".
50. However, the Annual Political Appraisals of the Secretary General throw a somewhat different light on NATO's experience of consultation. No doubt, C-M(58)72 of 25th April, 1958, mentioned "the completely positive results" of consultation on disarmaments and emphasised "the highly effective consultation" on the avalanche of Mr. Bulganin's correspondence in 1957: by discussing the draft replies in the Council, a remarkably high degree of unanimity was reached. However, a more critical note was sounded, in the "Interim report of the Secretary General on political co-operation" of 17th November, 1958. (C-M(58)138). The Secretary General underlined that "although consultation was widely practised the results obtained were not of equal value". Consultation functioned with complete success in certain cases already mentioned above, all pertaining to East/West relations, but Mr. Spaak then went on to say:
51. The Secretary General pointed out that there were no statutory geographical limits of consultation within the Alliance. "Article 4 of the Treaty, dealing with consultations makes no mention of the Treaty area (Article 6) which relates only to the application of he assistance clause (Article 5). He underlined, however, that the most stringent limitations on consultation originated in the fact that agreement depends in the final analysis upon the will of the national governments. "Consultation is successful if it brings out a common purpose of common views: it is a failure if it brings to light, irreconcilable differences." This fact, the Secretary General said was, of course, foreseen by the Report of the Committee of Three but they did not dicuss the case of consultation remaining incomplete and inconclusive because of its silence of the parties consulted; and this, according to the Secretary General's statement, occurred particularly in questions arising outside the Treaty area. "Thus, we see that the success or failure of consultation rests with the governments, not only insofar as they make it a success by their agreement, or wreck it by their disagreement, but also because their refusal to participate may render it incomplete and ineffectual."
52. Continuing, the Secretary General admitted that in the field of conciliation, action by NATO had been unable to effect a settlement in the Icelandic Fisheries" dispute and the Cyprus affair but "the efforts of NATO have had favourable psychological effects, have helped to preclude extremist decisions and have preserved the chances of a settlement."
53. The subsequent political appraisals were perhaps less outspoken but again in C-M(60) 40 of 21st April, 1960, Mr. Spaak, speaking of bilateral contacts between Western Powers and the Soviet Union, said: "initiatives of such far-reaching importance, affecting as they did all members of the Alliance, call for prior consultation within the Council and it must be acknowledged for the most part such consultation did not take place". In the same report, he had but little to report in the field of global consultation (other areas of the world) and he continued: "this somewhat meagre sum total of consultation may be accounted for, but hardly justified, by the fact that no major crisis has arisen in these (other) areas and also because of the priority given in our work to East/West relations .... the members of the Alliance must endeavour to develop co-ordinated action and their discussions should not await spectacular events which would, once again, exhibit successes for the Communisit camp".
54. The fact that a political subject was brought up in the Council does not imply that there was either discussion or genuine consultation was again confirmed by some figures given in 196l (38). The Council, during 1960, discussed forty-three different subjects in private session; of these 21 could be described as pertaining to East/West relations and 14 to relations between NATO countries. But: "of these 43 subjects, about half were official statements or reports on which there was little or no discussion. In about 10 cases the object of consultation was to reach a consensus of opinion with a view to some action being taken, e.g. disarmament, the Summit, travel arrangements in Berlin, Bizerta, some United Nations Assembly questions, shipping of arms and oil to Cuba, Soviet oil policy, Soviet missile threats etc. On these questions general agreement was in fact reached .... and in certain cases common action was taken".
55. Again, throughout 1959 the private meetings of the Council revealed much concern of the Permanent Representatives and the Secretary General at the degree of consultation between the Council and the Three Western Powers who, on so many problems, had special responsibilities (39). This concern was particularly expressed at the lack of consultation in the German problem, after the failure of the Foreign Ministers Conference in Geneva, in connection with the lack of multilateral Council consultation in the post Camp David period, on the liaison with the Washington Four-Power Working Group and on the preparatory work for the abortive Summit meeting of 1960.
56. Finally, in the course of the most confidential discussions between Mr. Spaak and the Permanent Representatives on the occasion of the Ten-Year Planning Exercise, some of the least satisfactory aspects of NATO political consultation were touched upon with great frankness. Thus Mr. Spaak himself again strongly deprecated what he termed "le refus d'opinion", i.e. the refusal of some member countries to explain their positions in the process of consultation. He also referred in pessimistic terms to the policy conducted by some member countries in the United Nations:
He referred further to the various discussions and negotiations between the Six Powers of the European Common Market which might result in changes in the political, and perhaps also other, fields. He said that the North Atlantic Council should remain the main forum of political consultation and, recalling the report of the Three Wise Men which had laid down that consultation should take place prior to important decisions being taken, Mr. Spaak said that in this case this rule was not being followed and other interested NATO Powers would be embarrassed since the Alliance as a whole might be affected if they were confronted with a fait accompli (40) (41). The Netherlands Representative felt that in general the process of consultation was postponed until, the very last moment; the Congo (42) and Algeria were cases in point; and the Council should have discussed the political and economic situation in South America before, and not after, crises of the Castro-type had become political realities.
57. Thus, there is plenty of documentary evidence to justify the conclusion that by 1960 the development of NATO political consultation had not been uniformly satisfactory: it is also right to say that in many cases the principles and recommendations of the 1956 Three Wise Men, approved though they were by the Council, had either not been completely followed, or even positively neglected; a fate, of course, they shared with the recommendations of the preceding 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community....
58. The place of this Long Term Planning Exercise in the evolution of political consultation is not an important one; the results were rather disappointing. Nevertheless, the proposals made by the Secretary General and Delegations during the preparatory stages, and the assumptions on which they were based, are worth recalling.
59. Thus the Secretary General and the Ambassadors agreed that a revision of the Treaty, which would imply an extension of military commitments, was not possible. Their starting-point in reviewing the position was the same as that of the 1956 Committee of Three Wise Men and the 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community, But, once again, there was at times a certain confusion between the extension of political consultations, on the one hand, and of military commitments on the other (43). Thus, during the meeting of 14th October, between the Secretary General and the Ambassadors, Mr. de Leusse pointed out that:
Mr. Spaak observed that in Addendum 3 to PO/60/775 he had stated that "Consultation must extend beyond the geographical framework of the Alliance"; but the French Permanent Representative then underlined the difference between "consultation" and "responsibility". To which, Mr.Spaak replied that if the obligations of member states were to be extended, the Treaty should be re-negotiated; and this was precisely what NATO members were unwilling to do.
60. A second fundamental point the Secretary General and the Ambassadors agreed on was that the problem of political consultation centred not so much on its machinery but rather on the determination of governments to use the available mechanism. This point is repeatedly referred to in all the preparatory papers and is made again, with great emphasis, in paragraph 8 of Section 1 on "General Principles" of the final Council document on Long Term Planning (C-M(61)30 of 2Oth April, 1961)
61. Thus, within these limits (44) the Secretary General submitted the following propositions:
62. The proposals made by delegations can be roughly summarised as follows:
The United Kingdom Authorities emphasised in particular the necessity of close consultation on certain points on the Agenda of the United-Nations General Assembly. While tactical decisions should be left to delegations in New York, the United Kingdom considered that the somewhat general discussion in the Committee of Political Advisers should be improved and enlarged by Council discussion on economic and political problems of interest and falling within the NATO terms of reference. On the other hand, the United Kingdom Authorities were not in favour of permanent and official committees on Africa, the Middle East and other regions. These committees should remain ad hoc committees but their procedures should be improved, particularly in increasing the freedom of participating experts to state their opinions, without, of course, committing their Governments, Finally, the British Government supported the idea of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, composed of planning experts of foreign ministries and Secretariat observers; this Group should report direct to the Permanent Council and should function as a kind of seminar, once or twice a year to discuss subjects chosen by the Permanent Council (50).
63. Nor should we overlook the Ministerial discussions of December 1960 on the basis of a Progress Report on Long-term Planning submitted by the Secretary General (51). Ministers on the whole were in agreement with the points made in the Interim Report, i.e. they agreed on the desirability of consultation on a world-wide scale; there was some divergency of views regarding the objective of global - as opposed to NATO area - consultation; there was, on the whole, a preference for ad hoc and open high-level Experts committees, as opposed to standing and restricted committees; and the United States proposal for a political advisory group was on the whole welcomed on the understanding that the group should definitively come under the authority of the Council. The principle of associating the Secretary General through an observer with certain inter-allied negotiations was not challenged but the question of the desirability of co-ordinated attitudes within the United Nations gave rise again to divergent views.
64. However, the Final Council Report on Long-Term Planning (52) revealed that all these discussions did not result in anything new, either on principles or on procedures, of NATO political consultation (53). In the main, it stressed this desirability of implementing fully the recommendations of the Report of the Three Wise Men and it declared, on the subject of ad hoc committees and working groups, that procedures should remain flexible. The membership of such ad hoc groups should in principle be open to all, though in some cases a restricted membership might be preferable for practical reasons. As regards the co-ordination of policy on United Nations questions, Representatives thought that:
The Report further recognised that as regards consultation during Assembly meetings, national Delegations in New York would have to assume major responsibility for the co-ordination of tactics and timing. Finally, the Report reflected the agreement that "depending on the circumstances, it may be useful for the Secretary General to be associated through an observer with consultations on subjects of interest to the Alliance as a whole that may take place among certain member governments only. This procedure would be without prejudice to the Council's functioning ..... its object being to facilitate later discussion in the Council."
65. During the subsequent Council discussion on this report (54) the feeling was expressed that the discussions on Long Term Planning had not resulted in much progress; and the present Report was not really an improvement on that of the Three Wise Men in 1956. Mr. Spaak reiterated his preference for standing and restricted committees, but most other Ministers appeared to be in favour of ad hoc and open committees.
In this connection mention may be made of the Council's decision, in its private meeting of the 17th, May, 1961, to establish an "Ad Hoc Committee on Africa", consisting of representatives of those member nations prepared actively to participate in its work. This committee, in the course of 1961 and 1962, met from time to time to review developments in Africa, particularly in the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi.
66. The 1961 Long Term Planning Exercise had few practical results; but it eventually did bring about the creation of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, the genesis of which may be summarised as follows.
67. The idea of such a group had a dual paternity - American and British. There was, however, a significant difference between the United States and the United Kingdom conceptions. The United States envisaged the group as composed of three to five men of broad repute,not subordinate to the Council, meeting once or twice annually, and free to make recommendations on the significant trends affecting the vitality of the Alliance. The United States clearly meant by "men of broad repute" something different from experts; the group was to have a permanent staff and, although quite independent, of the Council, would, of course, eventually report to it.
The United Kingdom, however, felt that such a group should be one of policy-planning experts from the national foreign ministries, who would meet occasionally to consider long-term planning problems assigned to it by the Council; these experts would work under the Council's direction and report to it although retaining some freedom to conduct this business as they thought fit (55)
68. At its meeting of 11th October, the Council decided that the Committee of Political Advisers should examine the question (56) During the Committee's discussions it became clear that the Representatives, while, on the whole, favourable in principle to such a Group, were greatly concerned as to its scope and terms of reference. They wanted to avoid duplication of work and stressed the necessity of the Group being well integrated in the general structure of NATO, i.e. being subordinate to the Council in every respect. The fact that the Group was established by the Council and that the Council itself would entrust it with the study of specific subjects was generally felt to reduce an risk of a diminution of the Council's authority.(57)
69. The Committee reached agreement on a Report to the Council (58) which mentioned the clear understanding "that the Group would be subordinate to the Council" but also insisted on the liberty of members "to express opinions orally or in writing, and to reach conclusions without constant reference back to the Council or to Governments". These conclusions, of course, would not in any way commit Governments. As regards membership, the Report recommended that Delegates should be able to speak with a high degree of experience and authority, assisted if necessary by experts. The Report also assumed that the Group would be chaired by a member of the International Staff. In its meeting on 15th November, 1961, the Council approved the setting-up of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, along the lines recommended by the Report of the Committee of Political Advisers (59)
70. The level of achievement in political consultation after May 1961 up to the present was not on the whole significantly different from the preceding years. The 1962 Political Appraisal of Mr. Stikker (60) indicates that the Council was kept regularly informed of all discussions on East/West relations in general and that, in particular, consultation on contingency planning for Berlin and on possible economic counter measures was continuous and intensive. The information given to the Council is described as of "the greatest value"; but the results of consultation based upon this information are said to have been "somewhat uneven"; the Secretary General was not fully satisfied that "we have found the answer to the problem of maintaining the closest possible contact and consultation between the powers properly concerned and the Alliance as a whole". Again, Council consultation on disarmament was "adequate and useful" but "on occasion .... was not perhaps as fully or as timely as it might have been". As regards co-ordinated action of NATO Powers in the United Nations, co-operation was described to have been "disappointing".
Nevertheless, the Secretary General thought that the general picture was on the whole an encouraging one although he added that the Alliance was still a long way from having carried fully into effect the Recommendations made in 1956 by the Committee of Three: "There have been failures to consult adequately and in time. Consultation has not always been so full as it might have been".
71. In this somewhat reserved evaluation by the Secretary General, his reference to "the failure to consult adequately and in time", in order to be appreciated fully, should perhaps be considered against the background of political issues on which little or no consultation took place within NATO, although they should certainly have been discussed, had the 1956 Recommendations been consistently followed (61).
72. As already mentioned throughout the preceding pages, several innovations were adopted in the Third Stage.
The Committee of Three, consisting of Mr. Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway, Dr. Martino, Foreign Minister of Italy, and Mr. Pearson, Secretary of State for External Affairs of Canada, were appointed by decision of the North Atlantic Council of 6th May "to advise the Council on ways and means to improve and extend NATO co-operation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community".
A study of some of these problems had already been made by the Committee on the Atlantic Community in 1951 - 1952 under the chairmanship of Mr. Pearson. This Committee did not propose rigid rules or "automatic" formulae for consultation, but stressed the need for the development of a "habit of consultation" between member governments. As criteria for matters which ought to be subject to consultation, the Committee indicated the degree of common interest, or the likelihood of a need for co-ordinated action. Furthermore, the Committee made a general distinction between exchange of information, on the one hand, and actual consultation on the other, the former covering a wider range of topics than the latter. Some progress has since been made towards co-ordination of the foreign policies of the NATO countries. The Council has begun to serve as a forum for exchange of information on matters of common concerns, and active and effective consultation has in some cases taken place. However, there are also examples of lack of co-ordination and of unilateral action by member governments in matters directly concerning the Alliance, which have had detrimental effects on the unity of NATO and thereby weakened the organization. It therefore seems necessary to find new ways and means of promoting the habit of using the Council as an active instrument of consultation in order to reach closer co-operation in the non-military fields.
The questions which follow are intended to elicit in as concise form as possible, the views of your Government on the problems raised by the task set the Committee by the Council. This list is not to be regarded as exhaustive, and should your Government wish to supplement their answers with any additional statements or suggestions, these will be welcome.
I. POLITICAL QUESTIONS
1. It might be useful to consider the desirability of laying down certain basic principles as guidance for the political consultation on matters of common concern, such as the following:
2. To what extent and under what circumstances is your Government prepared to participate in the following types of consultation within NATO?
3. What should be the basis for determining the
matters of common concern which might be the subject of consultation under
the four headings listed above, and what should be regarded as the factors
limiting such consultation, such as respect for liberty of action of each
member government and the non-universal character of NATO?
5. Should NATO give more formal recognition to parliamentary associations and the Parliamentary Conference and what should be the relationship between the Council and these parliamentary groupings?
II. ECONOMIC QUESTIONS
1. Does your Government consider that closer co-operation between member countries of NATO within the specialised organizations to which they belong and the establishment of closer relations with such organizations, would represent the most suitable means for promoting greater unity in the economic field between member countries?
2. In this connection, as regards the OEEC, does your Government consider the participation of the United "States and Canada as merely "associated members", to be adequate?
3. Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that the parties will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies. Does your Government think that the activities of other organizations, in-particular the OEEC, is sufficient to discharge the responsibilities of NATO countries in this respect? To what extent does your Government consider that NATO could assist in the conciliation of economic conflicts arising between member countries?
4. Does your Government feel that NATO may have some interest in developing public works for civilian use, as has been done in the military field?
5. Does your Government consider that NATO should take an active part in the economic development of underdeveloped regions within the NATO area or would it be preferable that NATO should limit itself to the appraisal of the political importance for the Alliance of development programmes to this end.
6. (a) Does your Government consider that NATO
has a vital interest in prompting the economic development of underdeveloped
countries outside the NATO area? If so, bearing in mind the non-universal
character of NATO, what action in assisting underdeveloped countries does
your Government consider can appropriately be carried on by NATO countries
to achieve the necessary objectives and what co-ordination can be furnished
7. (a) Does your Government feel that NATO should
consider measures to counter and neutralise Soviet commercial practices
which do not conform to the principles by which Western countries carry
on their normal trade and financial relations with one another?
9. Does your Government consider that it would be in the interests of the Alliance for the NATO countries to consult together when certain important questions are coming up for discussion in international economic bodies in which the Soviet bloc is represented?
10. Are there any other specific economic subjects or classes of subjects of general concern to NATO which are not now being adequately considered in other agencies and which might be discussed usefully in NATO?
III. CULTURAL QUESTIONS
Increased co-operation in the cultural field might serve to strengthen relations between NATO countries, provide a larger measure of public support for NATO and encourage the feeling of belonging to an Atlantic Community.
1. Does your Government consider that these aims will be served by setting up:
(a) a common research institute for Atlantic Community
2. Does your Government consider that NATO should encourage co-operation between youth movements in NATO countries, bearing in mind the co-ordination of youth activities in communist countries? Should the Council discuss youth cooperation problems?
3. Does your Government consider that NATO should undertake the co-ordination of measures to increase the recruitment and training on a long term basis of scientists, technicians and specialists, bearing in mind the developments in these fields in communist countries?
4. What educational, activities, if any, should be undertaken by NATO to strengthen the ties of the Atlantic Community, which are not already carried out by existing International Organizations such as UNESCO?
5. Would your Government favour the exchange of service personnel individually or in groups for the purpose of familiarising themselves with conditions in other member countries and for the promotion of goodwill?
6. Which of the possible programmes under questions 1, 2, 3, 4 should, in the judgment of your Government, be financed:
IV. INFORMATION QUESTIONS
Increased co-operation in the information field, particularly under the conditions of competitive co-existence and the new Soviet policies, might serve to increase support for NATO of a well-informed public opinion and thus increase the unity of the Alliance.
1. Does your Government consider that the Information Service should concentrate on purely factual information about NATO?
2. Does your Government consider the necessity of a better co-ordination of efforts in the information field to deal with the Soviet initiatives in the propaganda field?
3. Does your Government consider that reciprocal visits of professional groups such as teachers, journalists, etc. should be extended?
4. Does your Government consider that co-operation between the NATO Information Service and national information agencies, governmental as well as private, should "be improved?
5. Considering the importance of the impact on public opinion of extending political consultation in NATO, has your Government any suggestion on how far to go in keeping the public informed of activities in this field?
V. ORGANIZATIONAL AND FUNCTIONAL QUESTIONS
1. What specific changes in procedure or organizational arrangements would your Government recommend to ensure closer and more effective consultation in the Council to improve and extend NATO co-operation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community?
2. To what extent does your Government consider that, experts could be used more either on a permanent "or ad hoc basis to assist the Council in the process of political consultation?
3. To what extent should the Secretary General play an active role in the field of political consultation, and "to what particular types of problems should such a rôle extend?
4. In view of the economic responsibilities of NATO, and those in prospects, what organizational changes, if any, does your Government consider are required to discharge them?
5. Does your Government consider that greater use could be made of NATO machinery for the circulation on a NATO-wide basis of "basic position material" by individual governments (e.g./ texts of agreements, basic statements of position, etc.)?
6. The suggestion has been made that a closer relationship might be established between NATO and the United Nations, possibly establishing the position of NATO as a regional organization in the terms of Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter. What are the views of your Government on this question?
The following Reports were prepared by the International Secretariat at the request of the Committee of Three:-
(1) However, the Council, in May 1961, did create an "open"and "ad hoc" committee on Africa
(2) The procedures, outlined above, were agreed on 30th April, 1951; the procedures followed before were slightly different (See document D-D(51) 92 final)
(3) C7-D/13, 15th September, 1951
(4) C7-D18 (final)
(5) Annex A to document C7-D/18 (final); see also Annex B to that document
(8) A good summary of inter-relations between the North Atlantic Community (Pearson) Committee, the Temporary Council Committee and the Lisbon proposals will be found in the document d-D(51) 310, of 21st December, 1951. Also of course, to be consulted, the relevant discussions at the Lisbon meeting.
(9) C9-D/4 (Final), 17th March, 1952; See also the Reports submitted by the Temporary Council Committee of 1951.
(10) The discussions of the Council deputies prior to the Lisbon Conference are an interesting source of knowledge as regards the hesitancies with which governments approached the subject of re-organization, and, in particular, the terms of reference and the power of the Secretary General and/or the Secretariat.
(11) C-R (52)16, paragraph 44
(12) see also, for the Council's attitude on this point, below, paragraphs 46 and 68
(13) C-M (52) 125, paragraph 26
(14) The list of these questions show the wide range which, in the Secretay General's view, NATO consultation should cover:
(15) See also below paragraph 51 and 56
(16) See below paragraph 59
(17) C-M(53) 45 (18th April, 1953) and C-M(53) 162 (7th December 1953)
(18) C-M (54)115 (9th December, 1954)
(19) C-M (55)122, 6th December, 1955
(21) C-M (56)135
(22) see Annex to CT-D/8
(23) cf. the letter of transmittal (not published) of the Committee of Three Wise Men, december 1956
(24) C-R(53) 32
(25) C-M(55)122, 6th December, 1955
(26) See also C-M(57)60, paragraph 74 (24th April 1957) (Lord Ismay's report on April 1952 - April 1957)
(27) CTD/2 of 3rd July, 1956
(28) At the time the International Secretariat collated in a working paper (CT-WP/3 of 31st August, 1956) the replies of Member Governments as far as available at that date. This document is in the Committee's files.
(29) The letter of transmittal confirms once again that the Suez affair in itself had little to do with the setting-up of the Committee of Three in May 1956.
(30) "Reaffirmed and elaborated"; in fact; particularly in the field of basic principles, the Committee of Three reproduced much of what had already been said, or implied, in the reports of the 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community. See also above:"Conclusions"
(31) See above, paragraph 20 (Ismay's memorandum of 1952) and below paragraph 67 ff (creation of Atlantic Policy Advisory group), for the Council's constant efforts to safeguard its authority as principal forum of political consultation.
(32) Paragraph 56 of the committee's Report
(33) See below paragraph 61
(34) C-M(58) 55, 26th March, 1958
(35) C-M(58)118, 3rd September, 1958
(36) Procedure and Co-ordination Committee, Committee on European Security, Committee on International Co-operation
(37) C-M(60)47 of 26th April, 1960
(38) C-M(61)30, 20th april, 1961 (Long-Term Planning, Part I Political consultation), submitted to the May Ministerial meeting 1961
(39) See, in the same series "NATO consultation in the preparations for the Summit Conference scheduled for May 1960 (NHO/61/1 of 17th August, 1961), paragraph 2 ff, where these points have been discussed at length.
(40) Cf. Addendum to PO/60/775, 15th September, 1960, in the same sense
(41) See also the interesting statement of Mr. Stikker in the private Council meeting of 23rd June, 1962
(42) On the Congo, there actually had been no genuine consultation at all prior to the crises; see, for the Secretary General's opinion on this point: Addendum to PO/60/775 of 15th September, 1960
(43) See also above paragraph 26
(45) These restricted or open, permanent or ad hoc committees are a constantly recurring theme in the Long Term Planning Exercise. These committees made up of all, or certain, Permanent Represantatives (cf. United States proposals) should not be confused with the bi-annual experts groups
(49) TYP/US(60)1; see also PO/61/441 of 24th April, 1961, reproducing Ambassador Finnletter's statement on United States suggestions of 17th April, 1961. He elaborated on the role of the select committes (study of regional and functional problems) and of the proposed Advisory group which, in the United States view, should not be subordinate to the Council. See below, paragraph 66ff.
(51) C-M (60) 111, 5th December 1960; for summary of discussions, see TYP(61)1 of 10th January, 1961
(52) C-M (61) 30, 21th April, 1961
(53) Cf. Ministerial discussion on final report, April 1961, below, paragraph 65
(54) C-R (61) 18 and C-R (61) 19; see also PO/61/529/6 of 9th June, 1961, which gives a full summary of Ministers' discussions on objectives and methods of Political Consultation
(55) Cf. PO/61/441, 24th April, 1961;Cf.also United Kingdom Note of the 6th October, 1961 (C-M(61)88)
(56) C-R (61) 51, Item3, paragraph 16 (2)
(57) This insistence on keeping the authority of the Council intact, and the rejection of a more or less independent role of the proposed Group, had already been marked features of the Ministers' discussions on the Long Term Planning Report at Oslo; see C-R (61) 18, C-R (61) 19
(58) C-M (61) 101 of 31st october, 1961
(59) C-R (61) 58 of 15th November, 1961, Item I
(60) C-M (62) 47 of 17th April, 1962
(61) See "Conclusions",where some of these issues have been listed
(62) C-R (61) 48, II, 4th October, 1961
(63) See for his instructions, paragraph 6 of NHO/61/1
The declassified and public released documents mentioned in the footnotes are available in the NATO Archives Reading Room.