NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Last updated: 11-Mar-2009 12:01


About NATO

Q: What does NATO do?

A: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on 4 April 1949. In accordance with the Treaty, the fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in crisis management and peacekeeping.

For more information, please see: Discover NATO

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Q: Does NATO have its own armed forces?

A: All member countries that participate in the military aspect of the Alliance contribute forces and equipment, which together constitute the integrated military structure of the Alliance. These forces and assets remain under national command and control until a time when they are required by NATO for a specific purpose (i.e. conflict or crisis, peacekeeping). NATO, however, does possess some common capabilities owned and operated by the Alliance, such as the AWACS early warning radar aircraft.

For more information, please see: Improving NATO's Capabilities

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Q: What are the conditions for joining NATO? Which countries are eligible?

A: NATO has an open door policy with regard to enlargement. Any European country in a position to further the principles of the Washington Treaty and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area can become a member of the Alliance at the invitation of the North Atlantic Council.

Countries aspiring for NATO membership are also expected to meet certain political, economic and military goals in order to ensure that they will become contributors to Alliance security as well as beneficiaries of it.

NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) is designed to assist aspirant partner countries in their preparations by providing a framework which enables NATO to channel assistance and practical support to them on all aspects of NATO membership.

For more information, please see: NATO enlargement

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Q: What is NATO’s position on Iraq?

A: The campaign against Iraq in 2003 was conducted by a coalition of forces from different countries, some of which were NATO member countries and some were not. NATO as an organisation had no role in the campaign but undertook a number of measures in accordance with Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to ensure the security of one of its members, Turkey, in the event of a threat to it resulting from the war in Iraq. On 21 May 2003, the Alliance also agreed to support Poland, a member of NATO, in its leadership of a sector in the stabilization force in Iraq.

In August 2004, in response to a request by the Iraqi Interim Government, NATO established a Training Implementation Mission in Iraq. NATO is involved in training, equipping, and technical assistance - not combat. The aim of the Mission is to help Iraq build the capability of its Government to address the security needs of the Iraqi people.

For more information, please see: NATO's assistance to Iraq

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Q: What is NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism?

A: On 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO declared the attacks to be an attack against all the 28 NATO member countries within the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

This landmark decision was followed by practical measures aimed at assisting the United States in different fields, in relation to its campaign against terrorism.

For more information, please see: NATO and the fight against terrorism

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Q: Is NATO involved in Afghanistan?

A: Yes. Through its leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO is helping establish the conditions in which Afghanistan can enjoy a representative government and self-sustaining peace and security.

The Alliance took over command and coordination of ISAF in August 2003. Initially restricted to providing security in and around Kabul, NATO-led ISAF has gradually extended its reach and is now responsible for security across the whole country. This is the first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area in NATO’s history.

For more information, please see: NATO in Afghanistan

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Q: What is Russia’s status – is it a partner country?

A: Yes. NATO and Russia made a reciprocal commitment to work together to build a stable, secure and undivided continent on the basis of partnership and common interest in 1997.

This commitment was strengthened in May 2002, with the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council, which brings together the 28 NATO Allies and Russia to identify and pursue opportunities for joint action at 29 as equal partners.

For more information, please see: NATO-Russia relations

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Q: What are the official languages of NATO?

A: The two official languages of NATO are English and French.

For more information, please see: Final Communiqué following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 17 Sept. 1949.

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Q: How much does NATO cost and who pays for it?

A: NATO is an intergovernmental organization to which member nations allocate the resources needed to enable it to function on a day-to-day basis. There are three budgets: one civil and two military. Each NATO member country pays an amount into the budgets based on an agreed cost-sharing formula. Taken together, these budgets represent less than half of one percent of the total defence budget expenditures of NATO countries.

For more information, please see: NATO Handbook

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Q: What are some recommended books on NATO?

A: Publications from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division provide a lot of useful information and are available at the following URL : http://www.nato-bookshop.org

Those who are interested in the history and the beginnings of the Organization can read:

  • NATO : The First Five Years : 1949-1954 by Lord Ismay, which is in fact the first NATO handbook.

    This text has been digitised by the NATO Archives and is available at this URL : http://www.nato.int/archives/

Even if a real history of the Organization is still to be written, two books can be of interest :

  • A History of NATO : The First Fifty Years / edited by Gustav Schmidt. - Houndmills, UK : Palgrave, 2001. - 3 vol.
  • Histoire de l'OTAN / Charles Zorgbibe - Bruxelles : Complexe, 2002. - (Questions Histoire de l'OTAN / Charles Zorgbibe - Bruxelles : Complexe, 2002. - (Questions à l'Histoire)

and also:

  • L'Alliance atlantique et l'OTAN, 1949-1999 : un demi-siècle de succés / sous la direction de Pierre Pascallon. - Bruxelles : Bruylant, 1999. - (Organisation internationale et relations internationales ; 51)

On the relationship between NATO and the United States:

  • The Long Entanglement : NATO's First Fifty Years / Lawrence S. Kaplan. - Westport, CT : Praeger, 1999.

On NATO enlargement:

  • Almost NATO : Partners and Players in Central and Eastern European Security / edited by Charles Krupnick. - Lanham, MD : Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
  • Opening NATO's Door : How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era / Ronald D. Asmus. - New York : Columbia University Press, 2002.
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Working for NATO

Q: How do I apply for a job at NATO? Who can apply?

A: Nationals of NATO member countries may apply for all posts on NATO’s international staff. Appointments to most posts are made on the basis of interview panels and written tests.

Details of vacancies, procedures and application forms are available on the NATO Recruitment website.

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Q: How do I apply for an internship at NATO? Who can apply?

A: For information on how to apply for an internship at NATO, please visit the NATO Internship Programme Web site.

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Q: Does NATO sponsor research projects? How do I apply?

A: There are various fellowship programmes available, including a number of science fellowships, the NATO-EAPC, and the Manfred Worner Fellowship. NATO also co-sponsors conferences, seminars, workshops and roundtables with NATO and partner countries on security-related issues.

For more information, please see: Fellowship and sponsorship programmes at NATO

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About the NATO website

Q: I need of basic information on NATO for a presentation/report. Where should I look?

A: The best place to start is the 'Discover NATO’ section of the NATO website, which provides an easy and quick overview of basic facts about the Alliance. It also provides links to other key sources of information, including primary sources such as official decisions or declarations, analysis and opinion, speeches and articles.

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Q: I am looking for a specific document but cannot find it. Where should I look?

A: Most NATO public documents are available online on the NATO website. They include:

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Q: Can you provide a link to my organization’s/company’s website from the NATO website?

A: As a general rule, the NATO website does not provide links to external commercial sites. Relevant links to independent non-commercial sites are provided wherever possible but the list of sites is non-exhaustive.

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Q: I would like to subscribe/unsubscribe to/from your e-mail distribution list.

A: To subscribe to or unsubscribe from our e-mail distribution of NATO Press Releases, click here.
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