The Atlantic Treaty Association and Youth Atlantic Treaty Association

  • Last updated: 07 Mar. 2012 17:05

The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an independent organization designed to support the values enshrined in the North Atlantic Treaty. Created 18 June 1954, the ATA is an umbrella organization for the separate national associations, voluntary organizations and non-governmental organizations that formed to uphold the values of the Alliance after its creation in 1949.

Composed of Members, Associates Members and Observer Members, the ATA seeks to inform the public of NATO’s role in international peace and security. To achieve this goal, it holds international seminars and conferences and has launched several initiatives, including the Central and South Eastern European Security Forum, Ukrainian Dialogue and Crisis Management Simulations. The ATA is also an active participant in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and Mediterranean Dialogue.

The ATA has a youth division - the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) - which was formed in 1996. Although several of the Members and Associate Members had youth divisions prior to this date, the creation of YATA served to pull these separate divisions together to help coordinate activities. Similarly to the ATA, YATA seeks to inform the younger generation of NATO’s role in international security.

  • The role of the ATA and YATA

    The ATA

    The ATA has several aims, including upholding the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty, promoting democracy, and educating and informing the public of NATO’s work and responsibilities. It also strives to promote solidarity between the people of the North Atlantic region, those in countries which have signed up to the Partnership for Peace Framework, those participating in the Mediterranean Dialogue and people who are directly concerned with Euro-Atlantic security.

    In addition to promoting increased solidarity, the ATA also seeks to increase cooperation between various organizations connected with Euro-Atlantic security, such as Member Associations of the ATA, the governments of Member Associations, the European Union, NATO and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. It also conducts research into NATO’s open door policy, i.e., enlargement and promotes the development of civil society in the Black Sea and Caucasus regions.

    The ATA encourages discourse and debate with the goal of establishing a solid comprehension of key Alliance issues. It also engages in a dialogue with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries that cooperate with the Alliance. In addition to this, it works to develop relations between organizations in different countries by connecting with civil society groups that support the basic principles of the North Atlantic Treaty and aiding in developing relations between its Members.


    The ATA’s youth division - YATA – was formed in 1996 during the ATA’s General Assembly in Rome.

    It works in close cooperation with the ATA, supports its activities and shares its primary goals. They include educating and informing the public about issues concerning international security, supporting research into NATO’s role in the world and encouraging young leaders to shape the future of the transatlantic security relationship while promoting its importance.

    YATA also seeks to encourage cooperation between the youths of NATO member countries and partner countries, and between various international organizations to generate debate about the role of security institutions.

    Although YATA is officially part of the ATA, it also holds separate activities to achieve its objectives, such as its annual Atlantic Youth Seminars in Denmark (DAYS), Latvia (LAYS) and Portugal (PAYS), as well as Crisis Management Simulations and regional conferences. YATA also works with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division to organize international conferences and seminars where young leaders from the national YATA chapters are able to meet the NATO Secretary General, other NATO officials and Alliance leaders to discuss and debate transatlantic security issues.

  • Working mechanisms


    The ATA is composed of three main bodies: the Assembly, the Bureau and the Council, as well as the YATA and the Committee of Patrons.

    The Assembly

    The Assembly is the top decision-making body of the ATA. It is comprised of delegates from Member, Associate Member and Observer Member associations. With the exception of Observer Members, each delegate has one vote and resolutions are passed by a simple majority. In addition to the delegates, members of the press and academic community, government and military officials, and international observers may attend the General Assembly meetings, which are held once a year.

    The Bureau

    The Bureau includes the President, Vice Presidents, Secretary General, Treasurer, YATA President and the Legal Adviser. Members of the Bureau assist in carrying out the decisions of the Council and the Assembly and aid in policy matters, in addition to developing relationships with other groups such as the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

    The Council

    Bureau members plus up to three delegates from each ATA Member, Associate Member and Observer Member associations make up the Council. ATA allows the Council to take action on its behalf, with the recommendation of the Bureau and the approval of the Assembly. The Council holds two meetings a year: once at NATO Headquarters and once at the General Assembly.

    The YATA

    The Youth Atlantic Treaty Association is officially part of the ATA. It serves as the youth division of the ATA and has its own structure, activities and programmes. Similarly to the ATA, it has Members and Associate Members.

    The Committee of Patrons

    The Committee of Patrons is comprised of previous ATA Presidents and other people who have served ATA with merit.


    The President of the ATA is in charge of the general policy of the Association, in addition to acting as its spokesperson. The Assembly, with input from the Council, elects the President for a three-year period.

    The Secretary General is in charge of day-to-day operations for the ATA, furthering its goals and aims, implementing the decisions of the Assembly, Council and the Bureau, and maintaining relationships with various other institutions. The Assembly, with input from the Council and the Bureau, elects the Secretary General for a three-year renewable period.

    The Assembly also elects the Treasurer, who is in charge of financial matters, for a renewable three-year period.


    There are three different types of membership in ATA: Members, Associate Members and Observers.


    The national associations which come from NATO member countries may join the ATA as Members. As Members, they may attend and participate in Bureau, Council and Assembly meetings. They also have full voting rights.

    Currently Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States are ATA Members.

    Associate Members

    The national associations that make up the Associate Members of ATA come from non-NATO countries that have signed up to PfP. Associate Members may attend and participate in Bureau, Council and Assembly meetings. Once an association’s respective country joins NATO, the association automatically becomes a Member. Much like Members, Associate Members also have full voting rights.

    Current Associate Members include Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ¹, Russia, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine.

    Observer Members

    Associations from non-NATO countries who have not signed up to PfP, but whose countries either participate in the Mediterranean Dialogue or have a direct interest in Euro-Atlantic security issues can still participate in the ATA under the status of Observer Members. As Observer Members, the national associations may attend and participate in Council and Assembly meetings, but not Bureau meetings. Also, unlike Members and Associate Members, Observer Members have no voting rights. Currently, only Israel is an Observer Member.

    1. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
  • Evolution of the ATA

    Following the creation of the Alliance in 1949, several separate organizations in NATO member countries formed with the goal of informing the public of NATO’s activities and its role in international relations. Eventually the organizations came together under the umbrella of the Atlantic Treaty Association after its creation on 18 June 1954.

    Although previously focused on public debate and discussion about NATO’s activities during the Cold War, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and with it the Warsaw Pact, the ATA’s focus expanded. It now extends beyond the Euro-Atlantic region to include Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Caucasus and the Mediterranean regions. Several of the ATA’s more recent initiatives, such as the Central and South Eastern European Security Forum, Ukrainian Dialogue and Crisis Management Simulations, highlight this new focus.

    In addition to being an active participant in NATO’s PfP programme and the Mediterranean Dialogue, the ATA also hosts several international seminars and conferences each year in order to further its objectives.

1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.