Chairman of the North Atlantic Council and other key bodies
First and foremost, the Secretary General chairs the North Atlantic Council - the Alliance’s principal political decision-making body - as well as other senior decision-making committees. These include the Nuclear Planning Group, the NATO-Russia Council, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Mediterranean Co-operation Group. Additionally, together with a Ukrainian representative, he is the chairman of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, as well as the chairman of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
Above and beyond the role of chairman, the Secretary General has the authority to propose items for discussion and use his good offices in case of disputes between member states. He acts as a decision facilitator, leading and guiding the process of consensus-building and decision-making throughout the Alliance.
He maintains direct contact with heads of state and government, foreign and defence ministers in NATO and partner countries, in order to facilitate this process. This entails regular visits to NATO and partner countries, as well as bilateral meetings with senior national officials when they visit NATO Headquarters.
Effectively, his role allows him to exert some influence on the decision-making process while respecting the fundamental principle that the authority for taking decisions is invested only in the member governments themselves.
The Secretary General is also the principal spokesman of the Alliance and represents the Alliance in public on behalf of the member countries, reflecting their common positions on political issues.
He also represents NATO vis-à-vis other international organizations as well as to the media and the public at large. To this end the Secretary General regularly holds press briefings and conferences as well as public lectures and speeches.
Head of the International Staff
Third and lastly, the Secretary General is the senior executive officer of the NATO International Staff, responsible for making staff appointments and overseeing its work.