On 12 September, NATO decided that, if it is determined
that the attack against the United States was directed
from abroad, it shall be regarded as an action covered
by Article 5 of the Washington
This is the first time in the Alliance's history that
Article 5 has been invoked.
The Parties agree that an armed attack against
one or more of them in Europe or North America shall
be considered an attack against them all and consequently
they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each
of them, in exercise of the right of individual or
collective self-defence recognised by Article
51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will
assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking
forthwith, individually and in concert with the other
Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including
the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the
security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as
a result thereof shall immediately be reported to
the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated
when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary
to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Concept recognises the risks to the Alliance posed
Article 5 is at the basis of a fundamental principle
of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It provides
that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack,
each and every other member of the Alliance will consider
this act of violence as an armed attack against all
members and will take the actions it deems necessary
to assist the Ally attacked.
This is the principle of collective defence.
The United States has been the object of brutal terrorist
attacks. It immediately consulted with the other members
of the Alliance. The Alliance determined that the US
had been the object of an armed attack. The Alliance
therefore agreed that if it was determined that this
attack was directed from abroad, it would be regarded
as covered by Article 5. NATO Secretary General, Lord
Robertson, subsequently informed the Secretary-General
of the United Nations of the Alliance's decision.
Article 5 has thus been invoked, but no determination
has yet been made whether the attack against the United
States was directed from abroad. If such a determination
is made, each Ally will then consider what assistance
it should provide. In practice, there will be consultations
among the Allies. Any collective action by NATO will
be decided by the North Atlantic Council. The United
States can also carry out independent actions, consistent
with its rights and obligations under the UN Charter.
Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem
necessary to respond to the situation. This assistance
is not necessarily military and depends on the material
resources of each country. Each individual member determines
how it will contribute and will consult with the other
members, bearing in mind that the ultimate aim is to
"to restore and maintain the security of the North
By invoking Article 5, NATO members have shown their
solidarity toward the United States and condemned, in
the strongest possible way, the terrorist attacks against
the United States on 11 September.
If the conditions are met for the application of Article
5, NATO Allies will decide how to assist the United
States. (Many Allies have clearly offered emergency
assistance). Each Ally is obliged to assist the United
States by taking forward, individually and in concert
with other Allies, such action as it deems necessary.
This is an individual obligation on each Ally and each
Ally is responsible for determining what it deems necessary
in these particular circumstances.
No collective action will be taken by NATO until further
consultations are held and further decisions are made
by the the North Atlantic Council.