NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

  • Washington Treaty
    Washington Treaty The foundations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were officially laid down on 4th April 1949 with the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, more popularly known as the Washington Treaty. It is a model of brevity and provides for in-built flexibility on all fronts. Without the original text being modified at any stage, the Alliance has been able to adapt to a changing security environment through time and each Ally can implement the text in accordance with its capabilities and circumstances. The Treaty derives its authority from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which reaffirms the inherent right of independent states to individual or collective defence. Collective defence is at the heart of the Washington Treaty and is enshrined in Article 5. It commits members to protect each other and sets a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance. Only 14 articles long, the Treaty is one of the shortest documents of its kind. The carefully crafted articles were the subject of several months of discussion and negotiations before the Treaty could actually be signed by the 12 founding members in the Departmental Auditorium in Washington D.C. There were several areas of contention on fundamental issues such as the duration of the Treaty, its geographical scope, membership and the rights and obligations implied by Article 5. Once signed, the Treaty gave birth to the Alliance and only later did a fully-fledged organization develop. Strictly speaking, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) provides the structure which enables the goals of the Alliance to be implemented. To date, those goals have not fundamentally changed nor the Treaty been rewritten. The only so-called “amendments” made so far stem from the series of accession protocols which have been added as new members join, illustrating the foresight of its drafters and their ability to marry international concerns and objectives with national interests. Political context of the Alliance’s birth The hostilities that had characterized relations between soviet and western powers since 1917 gradually re-emerged at the end of the Second World War. This “East-West” divide was fuelled by conflicting interests and political ideologies. There were clashes over peace agreements and reparations, and tensions were exacerbated by events such as the Berlin blockade in April 1948, the June 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia and direct threats to the sovereignty of Norway, Greece and Turkey. As the power of the Soviet Union spread to several Eastern European countries, there was concern among Western European countries that the USSR would impose its ideology and authority across Europe. From 1945, Western governments started reducing their defence establishments and demobilizing their forces. But in January 1948, Bristish Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin spoke of the need for a “treaty of alliance and mutual assistance”, a defensive alliance and a regional grouping within the framework of the UN Charter. The United States would only agree to provide military support for Europe if it were united. In response, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, signed the Brussels Treaty in March 1948, creating the Western Union. Designed to strengthen ties between the signatories while providing for a common defence system, the Brussels Treaty ultimately became the basis for the Washington Treaty. In the meantime, the US Senate adopted the Vandenberg Resolution – a resolution that would change the course of American foreign policy since it allowed the United States to constitutionally participate in a mutual defence system in times of peace. The ground was set for negotiations to start on a transatlantic treaty. Negotiating and drafting the Treaty The talks on what would become the Washington Treaty took place between the powers of the Brussels Treaty (except Luxembourg, which was represented by Belgium) plus the United States and Canada. Representatives from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States constituted the core drafting team, but participants from other countries also contributed to the initial discussions, with the assistance of a working group. What has been coined as the “six-power talks” gave birth to the Washington Paper, issued 9 September 1948, which contained an outline of possible future articles for the Treaty. Formal public treaty negotiations began 10 December 1948 with the Ambassadors Committee in Washington, D.C. For these talks, Luxembourg sent its own representative. Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal and Italy were later invited to the final sessions of negotiations, which began 8 March 1949. Although the participating countries agreed that collective defence would be at the heart of the new Alliance, several other issues were still not resolved and needed to be worked out before the formation of the Alliance could become a reality. Collective defence Views on the implementation of Article 5 differed. The United States had previously taken a stance of officially avoiding foreign entanglements. Because of this, it was concerned that Article 5 would draw the country into a conflict through treaty obligations. Something had to be put in place to allow for the US to send aid to attacked countries without having to declare war. The European countries, on the other hand, wanted to ensure that the United States would come to their aid if one of the signatories came under attack. The United States refused to make this pledge and believed US public opinion would not follow so they proposed an option that would allow each country to assist other signatories “as it deems necessary.” In other words, there would be no automatic declaration of war or obligation to commit militarily on the part of member countries; the action to be taken would be up to each individual member country. Ultimately, the American viewpoint on collective defence won out. Political and military cooperation Some drafters wanted more than just military cooperation between signatories. They wanted to expand cooperation to social and economic cooperation, but there were differing views on how to treat non-military issues. Ultimately, Article 2 went through, and now forms the basis of the Alliance’s political and non-military work. Article 2 is reinforced by Article 4, which encourages the Allies to “consult together” whenever they consider it necessary, therefore facilitating consensus-building. The practice of regularly exchanging information and consulting together strengthens the links between governments and knowledge of their respective preoccupations so that they can agree on common policies or take action more easily. Geographical scope of the Alliance The geographical scope of the Alliance, both in terms of membership and area of responsibility, was yet another topic on which the negotiators had a difference of opinion. The United States and the United Kingdom saw NATO as more of a regional organization while other countries, such as France, felt it should take on a more global role. Ultimately Article 6 of the Washington Treaty details specific countries in the North Atlantic area, along with the caveat that in certain conditions the Alliance’s responsibility could be extended as far south as the Tropic of Cancer to encompass any islands, vessels or aircrafts attacked in that area. However, according to one of the original drafters, Theodore C. Achilles, there was no doubt in anybody’s minds that NATO operations could also be conducted south of the Tropic of Cancer and basically, worldwide. This interpretation of the Treaty was reaffirmed by foreign ministers in Reyjavik in May 2002 in the context of the fight against terrorism: “To carry out the full range of its missions, NATO must be able to field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed, sustain operations over distance and time, and achieve their objectives.” Membership of the Alliance In terms of whom to invite to join the Alliance, again the drafters held diverging views. The United Kingdom wanted to keep the Alliance small and strong, avoiding commitments to peripheral countries, while the United States advocated inviting weaker countries or countries that were more likely to fall to Soviet aggression. France, on the other hand, was mainly concerned with protecting its colonial territories. Of concern to all three countries was Germany, whose membership was not immediately considered due to the complexity of its situation. The drafters also discussed inviting Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, essentially for their strategic value. Italy, Portugal and Iceland were among the founding members and ultimately, Greece and Turkey joined the Alliance in 1952. Iceland linked its membership to that of Denmark and Norway, which also joined in 1949; Sweden, on the other hand, categorically refused to have any links with NATO. Consideration was also given to offering membership to Ireland, Iran, Austria and Spain, but the idea was dropped largely due to internal conditions in each country. Colonial territories The status of colonial territories was one of the biggest bones of contention in the drafting of the Washington Treaty. France insisted on including Algeria, while Belgium requested the Congo’s inclusion. However, the United States and Canada wanted to exclude all colonial territory, the main concern being that NATO would end up having to resolve problems stemming from the native population of overseas territories. Ultimately, the drafters granted France’s request to include Algeria¹, which had been fully integrated into the French political and administrative organization as a French department, but rejected Belgium’s request regarding the Congo. Duration of the Treaty The negotiating countries disagreed on how long the treaty should last. Some countries favoured a long-term agreement that would set the initial duration at 20 years, while others feared that anything beyond 10 years would be seen as an unnecessary extension of the war effort. Finally, at the insistence of Portugal, the Treaty was made valid for a 10-year period, after which the Treaty could be reviewed (Article 12); and only after the Treaty had been in force for 20 years could a member withdraw from the Organization (Article 13). To date, these two provisions have never been used, i.e., the Treaty has never been reviewed nor a member withdrawn from the Organization. 1. The Article dealing with French Algeria no longer became applicable from 3 July 1962, following the independence of Algeria. The Treaty and its fundamental values and principles Once Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States came to an agreement on the various areas of contention, they drafted a new document that would establish the North Atlantic Alliance. On 4 April 1949, the 12 countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty in the city which lends the Treaty its nickname: Washington D.C. The treaty committed each member to share the risk, responsibilities and benefits of collective security and required them not to enter into any international commitments that conflicted with the Treaty. It also committed them to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and stated that NATO members formed a unique community of values committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In addition to collective defence and key values, the principle of consensus decision-making and the importance of consultation define the spirit of the Organization, together with its defensive nature and its flexibility.
  • Weapons of mass destruction
    Weapons of mass destruction (© Science Photo Library / Van Parys Media ) NATO’s Strategic Concept made clear that the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their delivery systems, could have incalculable consequences for global stability and prosperity. During the next decade, proliferation will be most acute in some of the world’s most volatile regions. Allied Heads of State and Government further emphasised at their Chicago Summit in May 2012 that “proliferation threatens our shared vision of creating the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. That is why NATO Allies engage actively in preventing the proliferation of WMD by state and non-state actors through an active political agenda of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation as well as by developing and harmonising defence capabilities and, when necessary, by employing these capabilities consistent with political decisions in support of non-proliferation objectives. Both political and defence elements are essential to a secure NATO. NATO is prepared for recovery efforts, should the Alliance suffer a WMD attack or CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) event, within its competencies and whenever it can bring added value, through a comprehensive political, military and civilian approach. Despite significant progress, however, major challenges remain. NATO’s weapons of mass destruction initiatives The Alliance stepped up its activities in this area in 1999 with the launch of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative. This initiative was assigned to integrate political and military aspects of Alliance work in responding to the proliferation of WMD. Since then, Allies continue to intensify and expand NATO's contribution to global non-proliferation efforts, especially through strong support to various arms control and non-proliferation regimes and through international outreach to partners and relevant international organisations. Allies also intensify NATO's defence response to the risk posed by WMD and continue to improve civil preparedness and consequence-management capabilities in the event of WMD use or CBRN attack or accident. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Non-Proliferation Centre The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Non-Proliferation Centre was launched in May 2000 as a result of the WMD Initiative that was approved at the April 1999 Washington Summit. It is structurally embedded in the Emerging Security Challenges (ESC) Division at NATO Headquarters and combines in its work the knowledge of national experts as well as of personnel from NATO's International Staff. Core parts of the Centre's work are to strengthen dialogue and common understanding of WMD issues among member countries, to enhance consultations on non-proliferation, to assess risks and to support defence efforts that serve to improve the Alliance's preparedness to respond to the risks of WMD and their delivery systems. Improving CBRN defence capabilities The Alliance's effort to improve NATO's CBRN defence capabilities led to the introduction of the five CBRN defence initiatives, endorsed at the 2002 Prague Summit. These initiatives represent a crucial advancement in improving NATO's defences against WMD and emphasise multinational participation and the rapid fielding of enhanced capabilities: a Prototype CBRN Joint Advisory Team that can assess the effects of a CBRN event, "reach back" to national experts and provide expert advice to NATO commanders, helping them to choose appropriate protection actions; deployable analytical CBRN laboratories that can be transported rapidly into theatre to investigate, collect and analyse samples for identification; a CBRN virtual pharmaceutical stockpile shared among Alliance members, which could rapidly support NATO deployed forces with pharmaceutical material to enhance post-exposure medical treatment and recovery; a Virtual Centre of Excellence for CBRN defence to enhance visibility and transparency of all NATO CBRN training and education; a Near Real Time Disease Surveillance System to rapidly collect, identify, analyse and disseminate information related to any biological outbreak, with the goal of preventing or limiting the loss of NATO armed forces personnel or resources. Four of the Prague CBRN defence initiatives have been brought to a successful conclusion. The first two initiatives now form the Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force (CJ-CBRND-TF) consisting of NATO's multinational CBRN Defence Battalion and Joint Assessment Team, which were declared "fully operational" at the Istanbul Summit in June 2004. NATO achieved an interim Disease Surveillance capability in June 2007, and a full operational capability is expected in the near future. As a consequence of all these efforts, NATO and NATO Allies have, until now, significantly improved and are further improving the Alliance's CBRN defence posture with the establishment of the WMD Non-Proliferation Centre (WMDC), the Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force (CJ-CBRND-TF), the NATO CBRN Reach Back capability, the Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence (JCBRN Defence COE), the Defence Against Terrorism COE, and other COEs and agencies that support NATO's response to the WMD threat. NATO Allies have invested significant resources in warning and reporting, individual protection and CBRN hazard management capabilities. Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force The multinational CBRN Defence Battalion and Joint Assessment Team now form the NATO Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force, which is designed to perform a full range of CBRN defence missions. The Task Force is led by an individual Ally on 12-month rotational basis. Under normal circumstances, it would operate within the NATO Response Force (NRF), which is a joint, multinational force designed to respond rapidly to emerging crises across the full spectrum of Alliance missions. However, the Task Force may operate independently of the NRF on other tasks as required, for example, helping civilian authorities in NATO member countries. Joint Centre of Excellence on CBRN Defence The Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence in Vyskov, the Czech Republic, was activated in July 2007. It is an international military organisation sponsored and manned by the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Centre of Excellence offers recognised expertise and experience to the benefit of the Alliance and supports NATO's transformation process. It provides opportunities to improve interoperability and capabilities by enhancing multinational education, training and exercises; assisting in concept, doctrine, procedures and standards development; and testing and validating concepts through experimentation. Standardization, training, research & development NATO continues to create and improve necessary standardization documents; conduct training and exercises and to develop the necessary capability improvements in the field of CBRN defence through the work of many groups, bodies and institutions, including: CBRN Medical Working Group; Joint CBRN Defence Capability Development Group; NATO Research and Technology Organisation; and the Political and Partnerships Committee (taking over the task of developing and implementing science activities, which were formerly managed under the auspices of the Science for Peace and Security Committee). Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are essential tools in preventing the use of WMD and the spread of these weapons and their delivery systems. That is why Allies will continue to support numerous efforts in the fields mentioned above, always based on the principle to ensure undiminished security for all Alliance members. In this process, disarmament of both conventional weapons and WMD are actively addressed. Regarding conventional weapons, NATO is committed to conventional arms control, which provides predictability, transparency, and a means to keep armaments at the lowest possible level. The Alliance will work to strengthen the conventional arms control regime in Europe on the basis of reciprocity, transparency, and host nation consent. In the field of WMD disarmament NATO has, with the changes in the security environment since the end of the Cold War, dramatically reduced the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Europe and our reliance on nuclear weapons in the NATO strategy. No NATO member country has a chemical or biological weapons programme. Additionally, Allies are committed to destroy any stockpiles of chemical agents and have supported a number of partner and other countries in such activity. NATO members are resolved to seek a safer world for all and create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That is why the Alliance will seek to create the conditions for further reductions in the future. One important step towards this goal is the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Deterrence In the Alliance's 2010 Strategic Concept, deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, is identified as a core element of NATO's collective defence and will therefore contribute to the indivisible security of the Alliance. NATO must be prepared to utilise all options at its disposal to deter a potential aggressor from employing WMD. Deterrence is conveyed through maintaining a credible overall deterrence posture as well as declaratory statements that, inter alia , demonstrate NATO cohesion and resolve. The Alliance will reaffirm and communicate its resolve to hold accountable all those who support or enable the use of WMD against Allies. Improving civil preparedness National authorities are primarily responsible for protecting their population and critical infrastructure against the consequences of terrorist attacks, CBRN incidents and natural disasters. NATO serves as a forum to develop non-binding guidelines and minimum standards as well as to exchange best practices and lessons learned for such eventualities to improve preparedness and national resilience. A network of 380 civil experts from across the Euro-Atlantic area exists to support these efforts. Their expertise covers all civil aspects relevant to NATO planning and operations, including crisis management, consequence management and critical infrastructure protection. Drawn from government and industry, experts participate in training and exercises, and respond to requests for assistance. The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, which is based at NATO Headquarters, stands ready to act as a clearing house for mutual assistance, upon request, and can also assist in coordinating civil-military cooperation in the event of such an attack. Creating standard agreements among Allies NATO continues to create and improve standard NATO agreements that will govern Allied operations in a nuclear, biological or chemical environment. These agreements guide all aspects of preparation, ranging from standards for disease surveillance to rules for restricting troop movements. In addition, the Alliance conducts many training exercises and senior-level seminars that are designed to test interoperability and prepare NATO leaders and forces for operations in a CBRN environment. Cooperating with partners The Alliance engages actively to enhance international security through partnership with relevant countries and other international organisations. NATO's partnership programmes are therefore designed as a tool to provide effective frameworks for dialogue, consultation and coordination. That way, they contribute actively to NATO's arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. Examples of institutionalised fora of the aforementioned cooperation include the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the NATO-Ukraine Commission, the NATO-Georgia Commission, and the Mediterranean Dialogue. NATO also consults with countries in the broader Middle East region which take part in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative as well as with the so-called "partners across the globe". International outreach activities Outreach to partners, international and regional organisations helps develop a common understanding of the WMD threat and encourage participation in and compliance with international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts to which they are party. It also enhances global efforts to protect and defend against CBRN threats and improve crisis management and recovery if WMD are employed against the Alliance or its interests. Of particular importance is NATO's outreach to and cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), other regional organisations and multilateral initiatives that address WMD proliferation. Continued cooperation with regional organisations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) can contribute to efforts to encourage member states to comply with relevant international agreements. On the practical side, NATO organises every year a non-proliferation conference involving a significant number of non-member countries from six continents. The latest event, hosted for the first time by a partner country, Switzerland, was held in Interlaken in June 2014. It attracted more than 100 participants, including senior officials from NATO and partner countries, as well as international organisations . This event is unique among activities in the non-proliferation field organised by international organisations in that it provides a possibility for an informal discussion on all types of WMD threats as well as the political and diplomatic responses to them. Qatar, as a participant in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, will host the next conference in 2015. The Alliance also participates in relevant conferences organised by other international institutions, including the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, the European Union, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and others. Many of NATO's activities under the Science for Peace and Security Programme focus on the civilian side of nuclear, chemical and biological technology. Scientists from NATO and partner countries are developing areas of research that impact on these areas. These include the decommissioning and disposal of WMD or their components, the safe handling of materials, techniques for arms control implementation, and the detection of CBRN agents. The decision-making bodies The North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, has overall authority on Alliance policy and activity in countering WMD proliferation. The Council is supported by a number of NATO committees and groups, which provide strategic assessments and policy advice and recommendations. The senior advisory body that is dealing with the Alliance’s political and defence efforts against WMD proliferation is the Committee on Proliferation. It brings together senior national officials responsible for political and security issues related to non-proliferation with experts on military capabilities needed to discourage WMD proliferation, to deter threats and the use of such weapons and to protect NATO populations, territory and forces. The Committee on Proliferation is chaired by NATO’s International Staff when discussing politico-military aspects of proliferation, and by national co-chairs when discussing defence-related issues. Evolution The use or threatened use of WMD significantly influenced the security environment of the 20th century and will also impact international security in the foreseeable future. Strides in modern technology and scientific discoveries have opened the door to ever more destructive weapons. During the Cold War , use of nuclear weapons was prevented by the prospect of massive retaliation. The nuclear arms race slowed in the early 1970s following the negotiation of the first arms control treaties. The improved security environment of the 1990s enabled nuclear weapon states to dramatically reduce their nuclear stockpiles. However, the proliferation of knowledge and technology has enabled other countries to build their own nuclear weapons, extending the overall risks to new parts of the world. At the Washington Summit in 1999 , Allied leaders launched a Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative to address the risks posed by the proliferation of these weapons and their means of delivery. The initiative was designed to promote understanding of WMD issues, develop ways of responding to them, improve intelligence and information sharing, enhance existing Allied military readiness to operate in a WMD environment and counter threats posed by these weapons.  Consequently, the WMD Non-Proliferation Centre was established at NATO Headquarters (Brussels, Belgium) in 2000. At the 2002 Prague Summit , the Allies launched a modernisation process designed to ensure that the Alliance is able to effectively meet the new challenges of the 21st century. This included the creation of the NATO Response Force, the streamlining of the Alliance command structure and a series of measures to protect NATO forces, population and territory from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. In 2003 , NATO has created the Multinational CBRN Defence Battalion and Joint Assessment Team, which since 2007 are part of the Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force. At the Riga Summit in 2006 , Allied leaders endorsed a Comprehensive Political Guidance (CPG). The CPG provides an analysis of the future security environment and a fundamental vision for NATO’s ongoing transformation. It explicitly mentions the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery as major security threats, which are particularly dangerous when combined with the threats of terrorism or failed states. In July 2007 , NATO activated a Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence in Vyskov, the Czech Republic. In April 2009 , NATO Heads of State and Government endorsed NATO’s “ Comprehensive Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of WMD and Defending against CBRN Threats ”. On 31 August 2009, the North Atlantic Council decided to make this document public. At the November 2010 Lisbon Summit , NATO Heads of State and Government adopted a new Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Allied leaders also agreed at Lisbon to establish a dedicated committee providing advice on WMD control and disarmament. This committee started work in March 2011. In May 2012 at the Chicago Summit, NATO leaders approved and made public the results of the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review. This document reiterates NATO’s commitment “to maintaining an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities for deterrence and defence to fulfil its commitments as set out in the Strategic Concept”. The Summit also reaffirmed that “arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation play an important role in the achievement of the Alliance’s security objectives” and therefore Allies will continue to support these efforts.
  • Women, peace and security: NATO’s implementation of UNSCR 1325
    Women, peace and security NATO’s implementation of UNSCR 1325 This page has moved to a new location. If you're not automatically redirected, please click here .