Updated: 20-Mar-2002 NATO Archives


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Monograph on "The evolution of NATO political consultation 1949-1962"

Attached is a study, prepared in the Research Section on the above-mentioned subject. This study, approved by the Secretary General, surveys the evolution of the principles and methods of NATO political consultation; it is not, however, a history of the issues consulted on during the period under review.

2. The present document is based on International Secretariat papers, discussions of the Council and the Committee of Political Advisers and on various Reports on NATO political consultation. It consists of two parts:

  1. Consultations, followed by
  2. a chronological analysis of developments

3. Any proposed corrections or additions should be communicated to Mr. Van Campen, Historical Officer, Political Affairs Division.





  1. Magnitude of NATO Achievement

    The creation of the NATO consultation system is, in itself, an achievement of the very highest order. In fact, seen against the back-ground of the centuries-old history of frustrated efforts in organizing and using political co-operation as an instrument to prevent armed aggression, NATO's success in (a) achieving continuity of consultation, and in (b) creating the necessary permanent consultative organs is all the more impressive. By the same token, the imperfections which NATO documents refer to time and again in the following pages assume their true proportions.

  2. Principles of NATO Political Consultation

    During the period under review there would seem to have been relatively little development in the field of principles. In other words, the principles which should govern NATO political consultation were recognised and laid down at a relatively early stage; subsequently, there was refinement of existing principles rather than the establishment of new ones. Thus:


    • the principle of a continuing political consultation between the Alliance partners is clearly implied, by the Preamble and Articles 2, 3, 4 and 9 of the Treaty;


    • the principle that NATO political consultation is not necessarily confined to the area defined in 1949 follows from the Treaty which mentions no such geographical limits to consultations: Article 6 refers to the commitments mentioned in Article 5 not to Article 4 or other relevant articles. The desirability of NATO consultation going beyond the NATO area was subsequently reaffirmed at the Ottawa meeting in 1951, by the Committee of the North Atlantic Community (Pearson Committee), of 1951, by Three Wise Men in 1956, by Mr. Spaak's Political Appraisal Report in 1958 and, finally, in the Long Term Planning Exercise of 1960/61. The early origin and constant reaffirmation (9) in spite of occasional back-sliding, of this principle is clear;

    Objectives of consultation —as regards the objectives of political consultation, the Pearson Committee of 1951 already formulated the maximum and minimum objectives; and the Three Wise Men of 1956, while perhaps refining these objectives, did not add anything fundamentally new; the Long Term Planning Report of 1961 merely reaffirmed the position of the Three Wise Men;

    Information v. Consultation —the well known differentiation between "information and consultation" was mentioned by the Pearson Committee of 1951, reaffirmed by the Three Wise Men in 1956 and subsequently underlined in many Political Appraisal Reports of the Secretary General;

    Timely Consultation —the principle that consultation, in order to be effective, must take place in time was laid down by the Pearson Committee of 1951, reaffirmed by the Three Wise Men in 1956, and emphasised again as recently as Mr. Stikker's Political Appraisal Report of 1962;

    Silence in consultation ("le refus d'opinion") —the dangerous implications of what is sometimes called "le refus d'opinion" follow naturally from all that was said on the nature of consultation by the Pearson Committee, 1951, the Three Wise Men, 1956 and were specifically referred to by the Long Term Planning Report of 1961.

    On principles, then, all that can usefully be said within the framework of the present constitutional structure of the Treaty Organization - that is, a voluntary association of sovereign states - has been said in the beginning of NATO political consultation. Accordingly, the Long Term Planning Report of 1961 and, more recently, Mr. Spaak's statements during the Ministerial Council meeting of December, 1962, both called, not for the creation of new principles, but for the application of the old ones as embodied in the Report of the Three Wise Men.

  3. Methods of Political Consultation

    Continuous development—The development of the methods and machinery of political consultation was rather more continuous than that in the field of principles. In particular, the number of elements in the consultation machinery gradually increased, as follows:

    Elements of consultation machinery —before 1952 there was only one element in the consultation machinery - the Council. Following the Lisbon decisions of 1952, a second element was added with the appointment of the Secretary General and a third with the creation of the Division of Political Affairs;

    Ad hoc Political Working Groups—the ad hoc political working groups, created and developed in the fifties, must be considered as a fourth element; their creation preceded that of the Committee of Political Advisers and their dependency on that Committee has recently been loosened;

    Committee of Political Advisers (1957)—The Three Wise Men's Report of 1956 led to the creation of a fifth element, the
    Committee of Political Advisers (1957);

    Atlantic Policy Advisory Group (1961)—the Long-Term Planning Exercise of 1960/61 led to the establishment of the Atlantic Policy Advisory Group; its terms of reference clearly mark this Group as a sixth element in the consultation machinery;

    Other developments, included:

    Meetings of the Council—in 1954, the hitherto incidental private meetings of the Council found a more systematic application, subsequently followed by the differentiation into three kinds of Council meetings;

    Procedures of informing the Council—in the early fifties, the Council began to receive reports, either from the Permanent Representatives or from special emissaries, on inter-governmental meetings outside NATO, followed in 1960 by the experiment of having NATO informed by a NATO Observer, this in the framework of the preparatory work for abortive Summit meeting of May 1960. In the event, this Observer served to inform the Secretary General, rather than the Council as a whole;

    Level of Working Groups—also in 1960 an experiment was made in raising the level of the Experts participating in the Ad Hoc Political Working Group on Soviet Policy. The resulting discussions were exceptionally interesting; they were, however, not reflected in the Report subsequently submitted to Ministers. This fact cannot be overlooked in assessing the value of such experiments in general;

    NATO Observer—the Long Term Planning Report of 1961 approved the suggestion that the Secretary General be associated through an observer with consultations on subjects of interest to the Alliance as a whole which may take place among certain member governments only. The Report added that this procedure was adopted "to facilitate later discussion in the Council".

    In addition to these realisations, several proposals have been made which up to now have not been put into effect:

    Committees of the Council—Mr.Spaak in his confidential exchanges with the Permanent Representatives on the occasion of the Long Term Planning Exercise of 1960, proposed the creation of restricted and permanent committees (1); on the same occasion, the German Delegation proposed joint meetings of the Councils of SEATO, CENTO and NATO;

    Liasion with negotiating Powers—In 1960, Mr. Spaak, in discussing the machinery to be adopted in the event of other summit meetings, pointed to the possibility of making a differentiation between the five NATO Powers with world wide responsibilities, thereby qualifying for a permanent seat on preparatory committees, and the other NATO countries, from which three might be chosen on a non-permanent basis; these would occupy their seats on the preparatory committee on rotation changing every six months or every year. As shown in the following pages, Mr. Stikker, in his 1962 Political Appraisal Report, was concerned with this same problem "of maintaining the closest possible contact and consultation between the powers properly concerned and the Alliance as a whole".

    Just as in the field of principles, earlier recommendations on methods and machinery were repeated from time to time:

    Crisis Management—Mr. Rusk's remarks on "Crisis Management" at the 1962 December Ministerial Meeting, recall Mr. Spaak's proposal during the Long Term Planning Exercise that "means should be found enabling the Alliance nations to take rapid and concerted action in exceptional situations".

    Council Meetings—Mr. Piccioni's suggestions on the same occasion for an increased number of Ministerial Council meetings bring to mind Mr. Stikker's similar suggestion during the discussions of September 1951 at Ottawa.

  4. Political Consultation and the Constitutional Structure of the Treaty Organization

    The importance of NATO's structure to the problems of consultation

    It has always been recognised that the problems of NATO political consultation would appear in a different light if the present constitutional structure of the Organization were changed. However, at the time of the Pearson Committee of 1951, of the Three Wise Men of 1956 and the Long Term Planning Exercise of 1960/61 , it was a constant assumption that there could be no revision of the Treaty (although there was, at times, a significant confusion between the extension of consultation, on the one hand, and that of commitments, on the other).
    Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a voluntary organization of sovereign states, there are certain obvious inherent limitations on political consultation and, in particular, on political co-ordination. The possibility cannot be excluded that, on the one hand, action may be taken by restricted groups within the Alliance which their fellow members cannot go along with,or,on the other, that opposition by one member may prevent effective action by the Alliance as a whole. The issue was concisely put by the Belgian Permanent Representative during the Long Term Planning Exercise when he asked: "Can one support the Alliance and at the same time preserve one's freedom of action?"

  5. A Decisive Factor in the Consultation Process

    As long as the present structure is maintained, one factor remains extremely important: the will of governments to consult. Mr. Spaak, in 1960,underlined this fact; the following pages abound in similar statements, not only of Mr. Spaak but also of Mr. Stikker. And indeed, it is obvious that the Recommendations of the Committee of Three Wise Men have not been uniformly followed in practice. The Three Wise Men laid down that

    "Members should inform the Council of any development which significantly affects the Alliance. They should do this not merely as a" formality but as a preliminary to effective political consultation".

    Of course, to be fair, one must take into account that there are, and have been, cases in which either the time factor, the security factor, or the incidence of geographical or power responsibility made such consultation difficult or even impossible. Moreover, the criteria of the Three Wise men Report may have been in the nature of ideal objectives. If they have not been realised, this may have been due in certain cases to a lack of imagination among governments, unable at times to recognise "the common interest" of certain problems. In this context, the fact that the expression "common interest" has never been defined cannot be overlooked. Finally, another powerful limitation to consultation and co-operation originates in the fact that the fifteen Alliance Members differ widely in power, commitments, responsibilities and, above all, in their historical experiences and, consequently, national conceptions.

    Nevertheless, while making full allowance for these facts, the evidence suggests that certain questions - in the sense suggested by the Committee of Three Wise Men have rarely been the subject of political consultation. Important cases in point are: European developments and more specifically, the various negotiations between the six powers of the European Common Market on the form of their future political and military relations and the relations of the Six with other European nations (specifically referred to by Mr. Spaak in 1960 and by Mr. Stikker in 1962); and finally, bilateral relations between certain European members of the Alliance. Such facts justify the constant emphasis of successive Secretaries General on what is, in present circumstances, a most important, and perhaps decisive, factor in the whole process of political consultation: the will of governments to consult.


    The subject matter of the present survey goes beyond the consultation foreseen in Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This Article refers in the main to consultation in the case of an emergency; this emergency may be, of course, of long duration and it can be argued that this was the case in the first few years of the Alliance. Nevertheless, much of this "emergency consultation" could have taken place through bilateral diplomatic channels; it was not dependent on the existence of permanent inter-governmental organs of consultation. The present paper, however, deals with the whole of NATO permanent political consultation which goes beyond - but includes - discussions subsequent upon an immediate threat referred to in Article 4.

    2. Three different stages can be distinguished in the evolution of NATO political co-operation. While such divisions are always somewhat arbitrary, there are very good reasons for considering the time between 1949 and the Lisbon Conference of 1952 as a first stage, followed by a second, from 1952 up to the Committee of the Three Wise Men in 1956, and a third, from 1956 up to the present day. It is reasonable to regard the Lisbon Conference as a critical point in the transition from the first to the second stage, since on that occasion the whole structure of NATO was reorganized. Obviously, measures such as the modification in the status of the Council, the appointment of Permanent Representatives, as well as the appointment of a Secretary General and the unification of the International Secretariat were bound to, and did, in fact, affect the development of NATO political consultation and co-operation. Moreover, political consultation during the first stage was, on the whole, directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty of 1949, i.e. the build-up of an adequate western defence system. However, by 1951-1952 voices were raised to the effect that, though in 1949 the exclusive emphasis on military preparation was justified, this now threatened to become a one-sided approach to the problems of the Alliance. During the whole of the second stage it was, in fact, gradually realised that the threat facing the North Atlantic Community had become a global one, and, instead of mainly military, also political, economic and ideological. By 1956, the international situation had convinced the allied partners that consultation should be intensified and extended. Under these conditions, the Council, in May 1956, set up a Committee on Non-Military Co-operation, popularly known as the Committee of the Three Wise Men, whose Report and Recommendations may well be taken to mark the transition between the second and third stages. During the latter, consultation reached gradually the range and depth which we know today. Of course, once again, the transition between the second and third stages was a gradual one; and, to some extent, the work of the Committee was a consolidation of, rather than a revolution in, the principles and methods of political consultation.


  6. The First Stage 1949-1952

    3. The principle of permanent political co-operation within the Alliance is clearly implied in the text of the Treaty and particularly in the Preamble and in Articles 2, 3, 4 and 9. Thus, formally speaking, the whole edifice of present-day NATO political consultation and co-operation is solidly based on the Treaty, which, moreover, does not impose any geographical restrictions on this consultation.

    But political consultation, in addition to a basis, needs a forum; this was created during the Fourth Session of the North Atlantic Council, May 1950, when the Council Deputies were brought into being.

    4. As a general proposition, political co-operation and consultation within the Alliance can be defined as an instrument to prevent armed aggression. In April 1951 the Council Deputies defined the purposes of their political exchanges in more precise terms, as follows:

    (a) to provide an informal means of exchanging information and points of view on political matters of common interest within the scope of the Treaty;

    (b) to provide a summary of this exchange of information which would show the points on which there were no views and those on which views differed;

    (c) to provide a channel for inter-governmental consultation on political questions of common concern within the scope of, and connected with, the Treaty. Such questions might either be proposed by agreement of the Deputies themselves or might be taken up at the request of one or more NATO powers, and such consultation might, with the agreement of the governments directly concerned, also refer to matters of common interest to NATO as a whole which might be in discussion elsewhere;

    (d) where appropriate, as a result of such consultations, to make recommendations to governments.

    Furthermore, the Council Deputies agreed, on 20th June, 1951, that their exchange of views might, in appropriate cases, include statements of national policy. The discussion prior to this agreement makes it clear what significance should be attached to this decision. For instance, the Canadian Deputy emphasised that such statements should merely be made in the course of exchanges and should not be the subject of discussion. The United Kingdom Deputy felt that Deputies should not engage in weekly political discussions but only discuss problems of urgency if and when they arose. He added that discussion to date had not produced any fresh facts not already known to his authorities. In contrast, the Norwegian Deputy pointed out that much of the information given had been of considerable interest to his authorities and he thought it advisable to change the character of discussions and broaden their scope. Finally, the Netherlands Deputy felt that every effort should be made to reach and understanding on the broad principles of political conduct to be adopted by NATO powers.

    5. To what extent political consultation in the first stage was confined to subjects directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty, is shown by a list of subjects discussed by the Council Deputies prior to the Lisbon reforms of 1952. They were:

    (i) the political and diplomatic aspects of the accession of Greece and Turkey to the North Atlantic Alliance (1950/1951);

    (ii) the various aspects of German participation in western defence and the progress of negotiations with the German Federal Government in regard to the part that Germany might assume in the common defence (1950 and later);

    (iii) the agreement on Berlin security, reached by the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, France and the United States, during their meeting in September 1950, which

    (a) requested the other NATO countries to co-operate in counter-blockade action, if such action were made necessary by Soviet interference with Berlin security, and

    (b) expressed the view of the three governments that an armed attack on Berlin from whatever source should bring the North Atlantic Treaty into effect; .

    (iv) the progress of negotiations on the establishment of a European army

    The Council Deputies also discussed political questions of a more general nature, but still related to the primary purpose of the Treaty, such as:

    (i) a memorandum of 17th July, 1951, in which the French, United Kingdom and United States Deputies proposed the adoption of a resolution which would give general NATO endorsement to the principle that all NATO countries should co-operate in relieving the serious economic strain on Yugoslavia, The Council Deputies on 1st August, 1951, adopted a Resolution in this sense;
    (ii) the position of Yugoslavia in general
    (iii) the political, economic and military situation of the USSR and the Satellite countries.

    6. The procedure followed in these years was as follows: after selection of a subject for discussion and, where necessary, preparation by a political working group of a brief working paper setting forth the problem's key-points, the Deputies' discussion took place. Next, a summary report was prepared, listing points on which common views existed and those on which views differed. After further discussion and, where necessary, amendment, the report was approved by the Deputies. Such reports did not imply any commitments for governments. If, however, the Deputies desired to formulate questions for decision by governments, they did so by way of a Resolution for submission to governments (2).

    Since the political working group referred to above was one of delegations, it is right to say that throughout the first stage the mechanism of political consultation consisted of but one element: the Council. The further evolution, however, was to increase the number of elements in the mechanism quite considerably.

    7. Reference has already been made above to the growing insistence by 1951-1952 on the fact that the exclusive concentration on the build-up of an adequate western defence posture could no longer be maintained in view of the changing world situation. Thus, at the Seventh Session of the Ministerial Council at Ottawa in September 1951 the then Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Stikker, emphasised the need for co-operation in non-military fields; and among the non-military objectives of NATO frequent consultation on, and the political co-ordination of, the foreign policies of member states should have an important place. The Council of Deputies did indeed afford opportunities for political consultation but he advocated a more systematic, fuller and earlier use of this body for the exchanges of views. He also suggested that provision should be made for regular and more frequent meetings of the Ministers in the North Atlantic Treaty Council to co-ordinate the long-term policies of governments and to decide on matters of importance on which the Deputies failed to reach unanimity. These meetings should take place about four times a year; the power of decision of the Council Deputies should be enlarged.(3) The Canadian Foreign Minister, Mr. Pearson, supported the suggestion to hold Council meetings more frequently than hitherto and the Danish Foreign Minister, Mr. Kraft, emphasised that, since the consequences of a country's foreign policy could not be confined to that single country, no NATO power could have a foreign policy purely of its own. "It was ..... evident that developments in areas like the Far East, Iran and Egypt were primarily the concern of the greater powers: yet the repercussions of high policy might nowadays become relevant for any country and it was therefore of vital importance to all to learn the points of view of the greater powers. Any statements which the Foreign Ministers of these powers might deem possible to make on such issues would be much appreciated".

    8. On the basis of these discussions the Council, on 20th September, 1951, issued a statement regarding the North Atlantic Community (4), referring to Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty and considering that "a clear sense of the direction in which the Community is developing should make it easier to take practical steps towards that end", which announced the setting up of a Ministerial Committee composed of Representatives from Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway "to consider the further strengthening of the North Atlantic Community and especially the implementation of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty". In the present context it should be noted that the Committee was instructed to make recommendations on the co-ordination and frequent consultation on foreign policy, having particular regard to subjects designed to promote peace.(5)

    9. The Committee submitted an interim report on the 26th November, 1951 (6) which was adopted by the Council; followed, on 19th February, 1952, by a final report (7). However, the interim report is of somewhat greater importance and deserves to be quoted particularly on the problem of co-ordination of, and frequent consultation on, foreign policy. In the first place, the Committee pointed put that they had considered the phrase "frequent consultation" to have the general meaning of exchanges of views on policy matters with a view to possible co-ordinated action, rather than the technical meaning of the word "consultation" as used in Article 4 of the Treaty where it clearly refers to situations of emergency.

    10. While emphasising that each North Atlantic government retains full freedom of action and decision with respect to its own policy, the Committee nevertheless considered that the objective should be to achieve, through exchanging information and views, as wide an area of agreement as possible in the formulation of policies affecting the North Atlantic Community as a whole. "The maximum objective is to seek to develop such close consultation between on particular problems and such coordination of action as will best serve the common interests ;the minimum objective is to ensure that action or policy on the part of any one member does not adversely affect the common interest."

    11. The Committee pointed out that, since the threat which the North Atlantic Community faced was a global one, "discussions on foreign policy within NATO cannot be restricted to the North Atlantic Area. "While it would not be feasible to fix definite geographic limitations, "criteria might include the degree of common interest or the likelihood of a need for co-ordinated action."

    12. The Committee drew special attention to matters of urgent and immediate importance to the members of NATO and to "emergency" situations where it might be necessary to consult closely on national lines of conduct affecting the interests of members as a whole (as explicitly recognised in Article 4 of the Treaty.) Nevertheless, the Committee reiterated the need in general for effective consultation at an early stage on current problems in general and emphasised that a large share of responsibility for such consultation must necessarily rest on the more powerful members of the community.

    13. The Committee suggested that the members of the Council might wish to consider supplementing the present procedure of periodically exchanging general views on the world situation by concentrating discussion on the basis of prior agreement and preparation in the Council Deputies on specific topics of particular interest and urgency. Finally, the Committee advocated that when the Ministerial Council was not in session the Council Deputies should be used more actively and frequently as a channel for exchanging information and views and for advanced consultation on urgent and important issues.

    14. Such were the points of view as expressed by the Committee in Section A of its interim report. The final report confirmed the Committee's position and again drew the Council's attention to the continuing need for effective consultation at an early stage on current political questions of common concern.

  7. The Second Stage 1952-1956

    15. The Lisbon Conference introduced important structural changes in NATO (8). The reason why these changes had become necessary is clearly stated in the report on the Reorganization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: (9)

    The experience of the last two years... demonstrated the need for improved means of obtaining prompt co-ordination of governmental decisions and for a strengthened and unified international machinery to lay the basis for such decisions and to follow up and assist in carrying them into effect. The activities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have been progressively changing from planning to implementation; thus, the Organization must become more operational in character."

  8. 16. The Lisbon decisions have been widely published and discussed elsewhere. For present purposes they may be summarised in two points:

    (a) the change in the status of the North Atlantic Council, accompanied by the appointment of Permanent Representatives; and
    (b) the appointment of a Secretary General and the creation of a single integrated and strengthened International Secretariat.

    The potential importance of these changes for the subject under review is obvious. Nevertheless, document C9-D/4(Final) which discusses at some length the duties and the terms of reference of the new Council, the Secretary General and the Secretariat, makes no mention of any particular duties or tasks in the field of political consultation and co-ordination. Again, when the document says that the Permanent Representative should in any case be sufficiently close to his Government and entrusted with adequate authority to enable the Council to discharge its collective tasks as a body and to reach prompt decisions, the political aspect of NATO co-operation did not merit specific mention.

    17. The appointment of a Secretary General in the mechanism added a second element to the mechanism of political of political consultation. In this connection it is not really relevant that the Secretary General only subsequently became Chairman of the Ministerial, as well as of the ordinary meetings of the Council. The fact that the Council Deputies had already a Chairman in the person of Mr. Spofford, the United States Deputy should not confuse the issue. The point is that Mr. Spofford acted in a dual capacity, being not only Chairman but national representative as well. With the appointment of a Secretary General this dualism was suppressed; and thus the Alliance as a whole obtained a spokesman of its own at the Council table. Whether this was the intention of those responsible for the Lisbon re-organization proposals need not be decided here (10); in the long run, it was the reality which emerged out of this re-organization. A somewhat similar observation may be made as regards the appointment of the Permanent Representatives. It is certainly true that some Council Deputies were already solely concerned with NATO affairs. But the case of others was different. The Lisbon re-organization created a uniform body of Permanent Representatives with undivided responsibilities and this fact promoted the subsequent development of NATO political consultation. In this connection, a comparison with the situation existing in other organizations like CENTO and SEATO is instructive.

    18. The position immediately after the Lisbon Conference can be summarised as follows:

    (a) In the field of principles, the Pearson Committee had laid down certain basic thoughts which they felt should be observed in the future development of NATO political consultation; and by approving the Committee's Report, Ministers must be assumed to have associated themselves with the Committee's position on this point.

    (b) However, the Lisbon Communiqué did not publicly confirm this fact since there was no reference to these basic principles.

    (c) The Lisbon decisions on the NATO structure contain some elements of potential influence on the future development of political consultation; however, Ministers did not institute a new mechanism for political consultation but confined themselves to adding a new element to the existing machinery.

    19. One of the first duties of the Secretary General, Lord Ismay, was the organization of the International Secretariat. In organizing this Secretariat, the Secretary General created a third component in the mechanism of political consultation: the Division of Political Affairs. The creation of this Division required no specific Council decision but on 16th July, 1952 (11) the Council approved, the Secretary General's proposals in general, although they did not commit themselves as to the exact terms of reference for the divisions and sections of the Staff. As a matter of fact, as time went by, both the organization of the divisions in general and of the Political Affairs Division in particular and their terms of reference were modified. It is, however, of interest to reproduce here the terms of reference as approved in 1952. The Division of Political Affairs (without the Information Service) was to comprise three sections, with the following terms of reference:

    Section I: Analysis of current political trends from the NATO point of view, preparation of reports on political subjects for the Secretary General, preparation of draft reports for the Political Committee and for the Council.
    Section II: Relations between NATO and international bodies, especially the Council of Europe and the EDC, political and legal problems thereof, other matters (e.g. the implementation of the civilian and military status agreement).
    Section III: Implementation of proposals on the North Atlantic Community; study of possibilities for further action in this field, with particular regard to co-operation between member states on political, social and cultural questions.

    20. Thus, Section I was to prepare draft Reports for the "Political Committee". However, at that time the Council was its own Political Committee; and there was until 1957 no such Body as the present Committee of Political Advisers. Document C-M(52)26 of 6th June, 1952, shows that the Secretary General wanted the Council to establish a Political Committee at the time but the subsequent discussion on 11th June, 1952, (C-R(52)8, III) revealed the Council's unwillingness to do this. In fact, then and later, - the most recent case is the establishment of the Atlantic Policy Advisory Group - the Council made clear its feeling that it should be and should remain the principal forum of political consultation and that a group or committee of political advisers was only acceptable to them provided its subordinate character to the Council was made crystal-clear (12). Again, Section II was supposed to concern itself with relations with the European Defence Community. Since this Community never saw daylight, this part of the Division's terms of reference was not brought into effect.

    21. As regards the purposes of political consultation in the second stage, it is probably not necessary to say much about this point here. Presumably, the principles of the Pearson Committee, as approved by the Council, were now to be realised. It was the feeling of some of the smaller powers that the system and practices of NATO political consultation should be used as a means for developing new habits among the great powers, and in particular, to induce them to discuss matters of high policy in which they alone carried the possibility of decision with their smaller Alliance partners, before final agreement was reached among themselves.

    In his first progress report, covering the period between April and 30th, November, 1952 (13) the Secretary General himself distinguished between political questions on which decisions were reached on the one hand and exchanges of views on political matters on which decisions were not required, or which, while of common interest to the member nations, were not directly related to the NATO area. Both categories of questions he considered obviously as appropriate subjects of political consultation in the Council.

    This much, then is clear; the question, however, was whether governments were willing to bring these principles into effect.

    22. There is ample evidence that political consultation in NATO during the second stage did not develop along the lines set out by the 1951 Pearson Committee; nor did it satisfactorily meet the demands of the world situation.

    Thus, in February, 1953, Lord Ismay had the impression that certain member countries tended to consider the Organization as a purely statistical body whose unique purpose was to gather data and figures on the defence efforts of the member countries. He, on the contrary, believed that the Secretariat could and should assume a task of broader scope - that of maintaining political unity between the allies. The Political Division should assist the Secretary General and the Council in developing political co-operation between the allies. Accordingly, the Division should define the political problems affecting the Alliance and keep files on these questions (14).

    23. Again, during the Bermuda Conference of December 1953, President Eisenhower was reported to have expressed the view to Lord Ismay that the Council should consider all matters, including those involving national policies, which could in any way affect NATO operations. Mr. Dulles reputedly endorsed this opinion. This suggestion was nothing new, the Pearson Committee had suggested as much long before. The Secretariat once again considered:

    (a) how this suggestion could be implemented; and
    (b) whether the Secretariat should take the responsibility for the introduction of subjects for discussion, or whether this should be left to the discretion of the delegations.

    After appropriate soundings, the Secretariat arrived at the conclusion that no special action of delegations could be expected, nor could they obtain any certainty as to whether delegations were prepared to circulate informally papers on political subjects, i.e. in preparation of subsequent Council discussions.

    Yet, at that very time several of the great powers in NATO were said to be ready to interject a political consciousness into Council meetings. That these discussions had not materialised to any fully useful proportions was due to the smaller nations who, in many cases, were reluctant to enter into any exchange of views involving political matters.

    This latter statement may seem to be in contradiction with what was said at the end of paragraph 21 above about the desire of the smaller powers for genuine consultation with the great powers in the Alliance on matters of high policy. If so, the contradiction originates in the attitude of some of the smaller powers who sometimes desired to be informed but were unwilling to express their own opinions. When Mr. Spaak, in 1960, deprecated what he termed "le refus d'opinion", he referred to this particular phenomenon (15).

    24. Similarly, in 1954, the Ministerial Council adopted a Resolution (23rd April, 1954, C-M(54)38), recommending that:

    a) all member governments should bear constantly in mind the desirability of bringing to the attention of the Council information on international political developments whenever they are of concern to other members of the Council, or to the Organization as a whole; and
    (b) the Council in Permanent Session should from time to time consider what specific subject might be suitable for political consultation at one of its subsequent meetings when its members should be in a position to express the views of their government on this subject.

    25. This Resolution was undoubtedly intended as a stimulus to political consultation. However, the observations made by certain Foreign Ministers during the discussion of the Resolution leave one with a discouraging impression of its effectiveness in this respect. Mr. Dulles felt that countries like his own with world-wide interests might find it difficult to consult other NATO governments in all cases. In a sudden emergency it was more important to take action than to discuss the emergency. Consultation therefore had certain limits imposed by common sense. Mr. Bidault contended that political consultation should relate primarily to defence problems. And Mr.Lange, while expressing his satisfaction at the increased exchange of views within the Council, referred to Article 6 of the Treaty which laid down certain geographical limits to the Organization. He thought it important not to give the impression that NATO was extending its commitments.

    26. These hesitations and reservations on global consultation could not have come as a surprise to the Council. Two years before, at the December Ministerial meeting of 1952, the French Delegation introduced a Resolution on Indo-China (C-M(52)140) which may, or may not, have been in line with Mr. Bidault's opinion expressed above. But both on that occasion and during the Ministerial meeting of April 1953, where the subject of Indo-China was further discussed, some strong reservations were expressed, not so much on the principle, but the possible implications of world-wide consultation. In fact, both in 1952 and 1954, the discussions revealed a certain confusion between the extension of consultation, on the one hand, and of the commitments of Member Countries, on the other. The same confusion could be observed on subsequent occasions, e.g. during the Long-Term Planning Exercise of 1960.(16)

    27. In these circumstances, there was an understandable feeling in the International Secretariat that the passing of this Resolution did not in itself advance the possibility of broadening the base of political consultation. They felt, however, encouraged in the first place to concentrate again on implementing procedures for regular discussions of political matters in the Council and, in the second, to try again to broaden the scope of political consultation.

    28. Accordingly, Lord Ismay produced a personal and confidential note to the Permanent Representatives on 19th June, 1954, as follows:

    "I feel that I should suggest to my colleagues that we discuss informally at one of our next meetings the implications of the Resolution on political consultation, adopted by the North Atlantic Council on 23rd April, 1954."
    "I would be especially grateful if Permanent Representatives would be prepared to discuss the following points in this connection:

    (1 ) whether it would be desirable to afford greater opportunity for the discussion of political subjects by increasing the frequency of restricted or informal meetings;

    (2) whether my colleagues can suggest procedures which will advance the purposes set forth in the Resolution adopted by the Council in April and, in particular, whether they feel that the International Staff should make a larger contribution in preparing subjects for political consultation or information; if so, in what way?"

    29. This note was discussed in the private meeting of the Council of 23rd June, 1954. The Secretary General recalled that recently informal discussions had tended to grow less frequent since no Permanent Representatives of late had insisted on their continuation. For his part, he was most anxious to reinstate informal discussions and he suggested, therefore, that the Council meet informally in a small room after every formal meeting. On 30th June, 1954, in private session, the Council approved this suggestion.

    30. In 1955, a good deal of consultation went on in the Council at Permanent and Ministerial levels in connection with the Four-Power meetings at Geneva, in particular on Germany, disarmament, security and East/West relations but it was still obvious that the degree of political consultation achieved in the Council gave rise to dissatisfaction in some quarters. For instance, in January 1956, Mr. Lange, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, in a public interview said that the brink of war assertions of Mr. Dulles showed a compelling need for more consultation and candour among all North Atlantic Treaty Members; he suggested that the willingness of some of the small nations to share the obligations of NATO might be in direct proportion to the frequency and frankness of discussions of political developments of concern to all. He also deprecated the practice among bigger NATO members of treating as purely internal affairs some problems that seemed to him clearly in the field of foreign affairs. And finally, he observed that although NATO was created to deter aggression against any of the North Atlantic Treaty nations by united action he did not feel that co-operation should remain inactive until there was clear evidence of aggression.

    31. The preceding evidence suggests that throughout the second stage the range and depth of political consultation within NATO did not live up to the criteria laid down by the Pearson Committee of 1951. This impression is confirmed by the statements - or lack of statements - of the Secretary General in his Progress Reports for the period 1952-l957. For instance, in his two Reports on 1953 (17) not a single word was said on the subject of political consultation. However, at the end of 1954 (18) the Secretary General stressed the role of the Council in permanent session as a forum for political consultation, and he mentioned, in particular, the co-ordinating role of the Council in the exchange of notes with the Soviet Union and, on the other hand, the full information given to the Council on the Berlin Conference and on arrangements to be adopted in substitution of the European Defence Community. He expressed the hope "that the scope of political consultation will be further extended in the future and that governments will not hesitate to bring before the Council any political matters which affect NATO directly or indirectly." At the end of 1955 (19) the Secretary General stressed the continuing importance of political consultation in NATO and added that governments had made a point of reporting to the Council any political matters which affected NATO directly or indirectly. But in his Report of April 1956 (20) the reference to political consultation was extremely brief and although the following report of 4th December, 1956 (21) mentioned the great number of Council private meetings on political consultation, it may be doubted whether, having regard to the international situation (Suez) this statement is a positive testimonial to political consultation at that time. Finally, Lord Ismay's pronouncement in C-M(56)60 of 24th April, 1956, should not be overlooked: "Nevertheless, it must be recognised that the practice of consultation in the Council has not, as yet, developed sufficiently to meet demands of political changes and world trends".

    32. The number of subjects, not directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty and outside the NATO area, increased compared to the First Stage, very sharply indeed. Such subjects, discussed both in plenary and private meetings of the Council ranged far and wide: the Far East, United Kingdom negotiations with South Africa on bases, development in Guatemala, Indo-China and the Netherlands/Indonesian controversy on New Guinea, were among the issues discussed.

    As regards issues directly related to the primary purpose of the Treaty, particular mention should be made of discussions on disarmament, the Berlin Conference of 1952, the Bermuda Conference of 1953 and the Geneva Conferences of 1955. Nevertheless, many of such problems were not fully discussed, or were only the subject of statements by one or more Permanent Representatives without a subsequent genuine exchange of views. In other words, on many problems there was information (sometimes after the event, not consultation, and the statistical analysis prepared by the International Staff for the Committee of Three in 1956 confirms this conclusion (22).

    In this connection one cannot overlook the Suez affair on which consultation or even information was notoriously insufficient and even, at times, non-existent.(23) In fact, the Suez affair demonstrated that the general and continuous character of political consultation was not assured.

    33. It is of interest to say a word or two on the role of the Secretary General at the Bermuda Conference of December 1953. The Secretary General announced his departure for Bermuda, "to attend, as observer, the meeting of the President of the United States and the Prime Ministers of France and the United Kingdom". In point of fact, however, his mission on that occasion went somewhat beyond that of an observer. At that time there was a certain feeling abroad that the military threat posed by the USSR had diminished. The possible implications of this rather general impression were, of course, of concern to the Alliance and the Secretary General had prepared a memorandum on the subject (C-M(53)87) of 25th June, 1953) which was discussed by the Council. As a result, Lord Ismay was to persuade the conferring leaders at Bermuda that the expectancy or reality of a detente should not impair the allied defence efforts and to impress upon them that NATO should remain the cornerstone of both foreign and defence policies of the West. The Secretary General was expected by the Council to make clear that no decisions were to be taken until the Council had had the opportunity of examining them. (24)

    34. Taking the period as a whole, it can on the certainly not be said that the principles and the objectives set but by the Pearson Committee, approved in 1952, reaffirmed in 1954, were fully or even partly realised. It was precisely this in conjunction with the growing interest in Article 2 of the Treaty which led to the establishment of the Committee of Three Wise Men which may well be regarded as the dividing line between the second and third stages in the evolution of NATO political consultation.

    35. During the Second Stage the Council developed three kinds of meetings to deal with political affairs. They were:

    • normal sessions: i.e. Secretary General, plus Permanent Representatives, plus four or more advisers

    • restricted sessions; Secretary General, Permanent Representatives, plus one or two advisers

    • informal sessions: Secretary General and Permanent Representatives only

    The number of restricted and informal meetings of the Council throughout the second stage was as follows:

    1952 17
    1953 23
    1954 35
    1955 43
    1956 66

    In addition, mention should be made of the private luncheons given by the Secretary General to the Permanent Representatives which had a degree of political significance.

    36. During the Second Stage, the practice also developed, in the event of international conferences in which some NATO powers participated, to have the Council informed by the Permanent Representatives or by the Foreign Minister of one of the participating powers. For instance, on the occasion of the Geneva Conferences of 1955, the three NATO governments represented at Geneva "kept their partners in touch with their thinking during the period of preparation. On both occasions, the Foreign Ministers of these three countries personally discussed their plans with their partners before proceeding to the Conference, and the Council in permanent session was fully and frankly informed of all that had transpired."(25) Similarly, on 27th February, 1954, immediately after the Berlin Conference, Mr. Bidault gave Permanent Representatives a full account of what had transpired at the Conference and on 16th September, 1954, Sir Anthony Eden informed the Council of his discussions in a number of European capitals on the subject of arrangements which were to be adopted in substitution of the EDC.

    37. There was already occasion to stress the rôle of the Secretary General as an additional component in the mechanism of political consultation. His mission at Bermuda has been referred to; it was his memorandum which initiated the discussions in the Council; he also, on several occasions, instructed the Political Affairs Division to prepare papers on certain problems which were, or might become, of topical interest; thus, the Political Affairs Division acted as a third element in the consultation process.

    38. In conclusion, a word on the rôle of Permanent Representatives. Above, stress has already been laid on the great importance of the NATO powers being represented on the Council by officials with undivided duties and responsibilities. At the end of his term of office, Lord Ismay stressed the fact that the Permanent Council could not operate with full efficiency unless governments were prepared:

  • to ensure that their Representatives were men of prestige and weight;
  • to ensure that their Representatives were fully informed of all aspects of national policy, affecting NATO "directly or indirectly;
  • to ensure that instructions to their Permanent Representatives would suffer no delays;
  • to give their Permanent Representatives a considerable measure of discretion.

    39. Political consultations, although the main subject of this paper, is but a part of the whole chapter of non-military co-operation within NATO. It should, therefore, be noted that towards the end of the second stage there was a growing insistence on the necessity of implementing the economic and social provisions laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty; and this insistence was, of course, not unrelated to international developments in general and to the emerging détente in particular. As early as 1954 an International Secretariat paper stated that "the Alliance begins its sixth year with its military aspects already in the levelling-off stage, (and) political considerations affecting the Organization (assuming) new proportions of importance." Article 2 had, so to speak, become a sort of banner symbolising all the non-military objectives of the Alliance; and it was the developing international situation which induced the Alliance partners to turn their attention to matters of non-military co-operation, within NATO.

    This relation is clearly brought out by certain paragraphs of the Final Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting held at Paris, 4th and 5th May, 1956. The Communiqué mentioned NATO's success in preventing the aggressive intentions of the Soviets in Europe and in contributing to the adoption by the Soviet Government of a policy of so-called peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, security remained an essential problem and the Atlantic Powers would continue giving priority to the maintenance of their unity and their forces:

    "However, present prospects seem to leave scope for further peaceful initiatives on the part of the Atlantic powers ..... The Atlantic Council consider it timely and useful for the members of the Atlantic Community to examine actively further measures which might be taken at this time to advance more effectively their common interests. The Atlantic powers already possess in the North Atlantic Council an instrument of unity and a forum for consultation regarding policies of general interest. In order to enable the Council better to perform these tasks, the Ministers agreed to appoint a Committee of three Ministers to advise the Council on ways and means to improve and extend NATO co-operation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community"

    In these circumstances, the Committees of Three was brought into being; its members were Mr. Lester Pearson, Mr. G. Martino and Mr. H.Lange, Foreign Ministers respectively of Canada, Italy and Norway.

    1. The Third Stage 1956 - Present

    40. The Committee of Three Ministers worked from Committee May until December 1956. Their Report and Recommendations have been published: it is therefore unnecessary to reiterate their considerations and conclusions (26). Similarly Annex I of the published Report gives an outline of the Committee's working methods and procedures. Nevertheless the following points merit special attention.

    (a) The Committee took pains to make it clear to Member Governments (27) that they did not have in mind "such structural changes as would involve re-negotiation of the Treaty"; and, in another context, they again said they realised the difficulty of trying to re-negotiate the Treaty at this time; they aimed at proposals which could be implemented without revision of the Treaty. In other words, the Committee throughout examined the whole problem of NATO political consultation within the existing constitutional structure of the Organization, i.e. an inter-governmental structure in which fifteen nations participate, none of which has given up their right of free and independent judgment in international affairs.

    (b) On this basis, the Committee sent a questionnaire to Member Governments, referred to in the Committee's Report, and which formulated a certain number of questions on, inter alia, issues of political consultation. In view of its great interest as an indication of the Committee's thinking and purposes, the full text of this questionnaire is reproduced at Annex I. In their replies, Member Governments, while agreeing in principle to most of the Committee's suggestions in the field of principles, added many qualifications as regards their application; and they showed much hesitation as to the desirability of adding to existing machinery (28).

    (c) The Committee had also the benefit of some outside proposals, transferred to them by the Secretary General; among these should be mentioned a proposal of Dr. Kurt Hahn for the setting up of NATO colleges, and a Memorandum on "The strengthening of NATO", summarising some conclusions resulting from Professor Louis V. Sohn's seminar on "The international regional organizations" conducted at Havard Law School since 1951. Finally, in response to the Committee's request, the International Secretariat prepared studies on a number of problems which are listed at Annex II.

    41. The Committee's Report, its Recommendations and the relevant Council Resolution have been published. This is not so for the Committee's letter of transmittal, and, of course, the Council discussion on the Report and Recommendations.

    42. In its letter of transmittal, the Committee referred in strong terms to the deterioration in political co-operation between NATO governments since May 1956. With a clear reference to the Suez affair, they said:

    "Not only have existing inter-member differences persisted, but also important initiatives affecting the common interest of the Alliance, have been taken by certain members without prior consultation in the NATO Council, or directly with other Member Governments concerned .... These divergencies if not rapidly removed threaten to impair not only the solidarity but the very security of the Atlantic Community....: and, in particular, with respect to the Middle East, divergencies were allowed to develop without real efforts being made to overcome them by effective consultation."

    The Committee, repeating that a basic purpose of NATO should be to prevent crises between its members, to unify its members in the face of crises provoked by others and to be capable of operating effectively in conditions of crises, then reiterated the stress laid in the Report on the necessity of developing the practice of political consultation; they warned that the Report could do no more than suggest a framework for consultation - it was up to Member Governments to make full use of the means provided by NATO (29) .

    43. Let us now consider some of the points made in the Council discussion of the Committee's Report.

    (1) The decision to publish the Report was not taken without hesitation. The published text is not quite the same as the one submitted to the Council - a fact which should not be overlooked when the detailed history of the Committee of Three is written;

    (2) Doubts were expressed on the Committee's suggestion (paragraphs 50 and 51 of the published text) that before any policy was adopted which might affect others, there must be prior consultation in the Council. The United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, could accept this in principle but there were constitutional factors in the case of the United States which would not permit this principle to be followed literally on all occasions; moreover, the United States had defence agreements with forty-four nations, of which thirty were not members of NATO. Consultation before action, he said, was desirable but there were times when action had to be taken so quickly as to eliminate the possibility of full consultation. The United States, however, were ready to discuss and explain their policies in the Council on every situation in the world which could be foreseen.

    (3) The German Foreign Minister von Brentano suggested that the Secretary General should be invited to propose a system whereby the procedure for the Annual Review and that for the Annual Political Review should be more closely related, and to consider, in particular, to what extent the Annual Political Review should be prepared on the basis of questionnaires submitted to governments. But this idea of a formalised Annual Political Review was not supported; in fact, the French Delegation was even disturbed by the paragraph recommending that the Secretary General, should report on the extent to which Member Governments had consulted and co-operated or had failed to do so. It was, in particular, the words "failed do so" which the French disliked. The Committee of Three thought the objection valid and accordingly the words "objected to" do not figure in paragraph 53(b) of the published Report.

    (4) Mr.Selwyn Lloyd had asked whether consultation on problems not of direct concern to all the members of the Alliance implied that there would be any common responsibility for decisions taken or whether the responsibility for decisions would remain with the countries directly concerned with the particular problem. The Committee felt that in cases of consultation on matters of common interest to the whole of NATO, there would be common responsibility for decisions taken; where there was no common interest, there would be no common responsibility.

    In this connection it is of interest to note that the expressions "common concern", "direct concern" and "common responsibility" will be found in practically all documents on NATO political consultation. Although, both before 1956 and after, efforts were made to arrive at a clear definition of cases where "common interest" did or did not apply, no such definition has ever been agreed on.

    44. Thus the Committee's Report and its realisations inaugurated the third period in, the evolution of political consultation. But what, exactly, were the Committee's achievements? First, it reaffirmed, and elaborated (30) on, certain basic thoughts on the function of political consultation in an inter-governmental organization like NATO. In fact, the Report's General Introduction, as well as the Introduction to Chapter II on Political Co-operation, give, so to speak the Committee's philosophy and fundamental conceptions on this point.

    45. Second, the Committee increased the power of existing machinery in the field of political consultation and co-operation, namely by increasing the powers of the Secretary General.

    46. Third, the Committee created new machinery by establishing a Committee of Political Advisers. Paragraph 56 of the Report of the Three Wise Men makes it quite clear that the new Committee would be subordinate to the Council.(31) Given the Council's insistence on this latter point, the creation of the Committee was an important innovation, which aimed at assisting the Permanent Representatives and the Secretary General in discharging their responsibilities for political consultation.(32)

    It surely can be said that the Committee fully justified its rôle in NATO consultation. In fact, the Progress Reports of the Secretary General for 1957 until 1961 emphasize throughout the Committee's success as "an extremely valuable auxiliary".

    Their work can be summarised under three headings:

    1. They assisted the Permanent Representatives, when so requested, in reviewing and discussing political questions which later would come up for discussion in the Council.

    2. Throughout the years they were an important forum for the exchange of information on various political developments in and outside the NATO area. This was, indeed, a most important part of their activities, but it is perhaps unfair to say as the Secretary General implied in 1960 (33), that it was its main rôle.

    3. For there have been many occasions on which the Committee succeeded in co-ordinating the policies of Member Countries, as, for instance, on the travel regime for East German residents, economic countermeasures in the Berlin problem and Western representation in economic or scientific manifestations in East Germany. No doubt, in some, but not in all, such cases the ultimate decision was taken by the Council but the essential work was done by the Committee.

    While, perhaps, as between these three categories, the first two may at times, have been unduly emphasised, the Committee's achievements clearly show that its work goes well beyond the field of information.

    The Committee could "where necessary be aided by specialists from the capitals". In this connection, however, it should be borne in mind that the creation of some of the ad hoc political Working Groups preceded that of the Committee. It has been said that the Political Committee evolved, so to speak, from the ad hoc political Working Groups. In any event, it is certain that in spite of the hierarchic relations which existed between the Committee and the Working Groups from 1956 until 1961, the latter must be considered as a separate element in the mechanism of political consultation.

    47. Thus, the stage was set for further development of political consultation armed, as it were, with a newly formulated philosophy, a series of principles/and practices as defined in Article 51 of the Committee's Report and a reinforced and increased machinery.

    48. It is generally considered that the Report of the Three Wise Men introduced a period of considerable increase in the scope and depth of NATO political consultation.There is, in fact, no lack of documents on which a fairly exact evaluation of achievements in the Third Stage can be based.

    There is, in the first place, the series of the Secretary General's bi-Annual Progress Reports. For instance, the 1958 Report (34) refers to the detailed study of the situation in the Middle East carried out in the Council as an instance of good and efficient consultation. The Council's close association with the preliminary stages of negotiations on a possible Summit meeting is mentioned; as well as the preparations for the meeting itself in committees (35)(36). Again, C-M(59)88 of 5th October, 1959, mentions "the marked and continued activity in the field of political co-operation", with special reference to the Berlin crisis (the Soviet Government's Note of 27th November, 1958) and the general exchanges of Notes between Western powers and the USSR.

    Throughout the Reports, mention is made of how the Council was kept informed on certain current events or conferences, either by bi-weekly or weekly reports (Geneva talks on nuclear tests) or by one of the participating Ministers going to the Council to report personally (Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers).

    But as against this, we find the Secretary General frequently expressing the hope that "governments concerned should bear in mind the serious disquiet felt by other members of the Alliance should there be a failure to consult the Alliance as a whole on problems of significant interest to NATO". (37)

    49. The mass of detailed information given in the progress Reports certainly confirms that in terms of the frequency of meetings and discussions political co-operation did increase. In 1957, for instance, the Permanent Council held 112 meetings, of which 39 were private, almost exclusively devoted to political discussions. Again, in 1958, the Council held 127 meetings, of which 72 were private ones, the latter devoted almost exclusively to political affairs. In 1960, the Council "in private session discussed forty-three different subjects ... the most frequently discussed subjects were disarmament and the Summit Conference".

    50. However, the Annual Political Appraisals of the Secretary General throw a somewhat different light on NATO's experience of consultation. No doubt, C-M(58)72 of 25th April, 1958, mentioned "the completely positive results" of consultation on disarmaments and emphasised "the highly effective consultation" on the avalanche of Mr. Bulganin's correspondence in 1957: by discussing the draft replies in the Council, a remarkably high degree of unanimity was reached. However, a more critical note was sounded, in the "Interim report of the Secretary General on political co-operation" of 17th November, 1958. (C-M(58)138). The Secretary General underlined that "although consultation was widely practised the results obtained were not of equal value". Consultation functioned with complete success in certain cases already mentioned above, all pertaining to East/West relations, but Mr. Spaak then went on to say:

    "It did not achieve its aim on other occasions either because the existence of a permanent divergency was revealed, as in the exchanges of views on the Soviet proposal for a conference on the Middle East, or because no conclusions could be reached owing to the silence of some of the parties consulted, as in the case of the communications of the United States and the United Kingdom on their intention to intervene in Lebanon and Jordan and the communications of the United States on the Quemoy affair".

    Mr.Spaak concluded that the difficulties encountered depended in particular on whether the consultation concerned questions outside the NATO area but they also were said to arise from the inherent limitations of consultation between sovereign states.

    51. The Secretary General pointed out that there were no statutory geographical limits of consultation within the Alliance. "Article 4 of the Treaty, dealing with consultations makes no mention of the Treaty area (Article 6) which relates only to the application of he assistance clause (Article 5). He underlined, however, that the most stringent limitations on consultation originated in the fact that agreement depends in the final analysis upon the will of the national governments. "Consultation is successful if it brings out a common purpose of common views: it is a failure if it brings to light, irreconcilable differences." This fact, the Secretary General said was, of course, foreseen by the Report of the Committee of Three but they did not dicuss the case of consultation remaining incomplete and inconclusive because of its silence of the parties consulted; and this, according to the Secretary General's statement, occurred particularly in questions arising outside the Treaty area. "Thus, we see that the success or failure of consultation rests with the governments, not only insofar as they make it a success by their agreement, or wreck it by their disagreement, but also because their refusal to participate may render it incomplete and ineffectual."

    52. Continuing, the Secretary General admitted that in the field of conciliation, action by NATO had been unable to effect a settlement in the Icelandic Fisheries" dispute and the Cyprus affair but "the efforts of NATO have had favourable psychological effects, have helped to preclude extremist decisions and have preserved the chances of a settlement."

    53. The subsequent political appraisals were perhaps less outspoken but again in C-M(60) 40 of 21st April, 1960, Mr. Spaak, speaking of bilateral contacts between Western Powers and the Soviet Union, said: "initiatives of such far-reaching importance, affecting as they did all members of the Alliance, call for prior consultation within the Council and it must be acknowledged for the most part such consultation did not take place". In the same report, he had but little to report in the field of global consultation (other areas of the world) and he continued: "this somewhat meagre sum total of consultation may be accounted for, but hardly justified, by the fact that no major crisis has arisen in these (other) areas and also because of the priority given in our work to East/West relations .... the members of the Alliance must endeavour to develop co-ordinated action and their discussions should not await spectacular events which would, once again, exhibit successes for the Communisit camp".

    54. The fact that a political subject was brought up in the Council does not imply that there was either discussion or genuine consultation was again confirmed by some figures given in 196l (38). The Council, during 1960, discussed forty-three different subjects in private session; of these 21 could be described as pertaining to East/West relations and 14 to relations between NATO countries. But: "of these 43 subjects, about half were official statements or reports on which there was little or no discussion. In about 10 cases the object of consultation was to reach a consensus of opinion with a view to some action being taken, e.g. disarmament, the Summit, travel arrangements in Berlin, Bizerta, some United Nations Assembly questions, shipping of arms and oil to Cuba, Soviet oil policy, Soviet missile threats etc. On these questions general agreement was in fact reached .... and in certain cases common action was taken".

    55. Again, throughout 1959 the private meetings of the Council revealed much concern of the Permanent Representatives and the Secretary General at the degree of consultation between the Council and the Three Western Powers who, on so many problems, had special responsibilities (39). This concern was particularly expressed at the lack of consultation in the German problem, after the failure of the Foreign Ministers Conference in Geneva, in connection with the lack of multilateral Council consultation in the post Camp David period, on the liaison with the Washington Four-Power Working Group and on the preparatory work for the abortive Summit meeting of 1960.

    56. Finally, in the course of the most confidential discussions between Mr. Spaak and the Permanent Representatives on the occasion of the Ten-Year Planning Exercise, some of the least satisfactory aspects of NATO political consultation were touched upon with great frankness. Thus Mr. Spaak himself again strongly deprecated what he termed "le refus d'opinion", i.e. the refusal of some member countries to explain their positions in the process of consultation. He also referred in pessimistic terms to the policy conducted by some member countries in the United Nations:

    "If the policy they pursue within the United Nations takes precedence over political co-ordination within NATO, this is a limitation on our work here and at the same time a potential threat to Atlantic solidarity"

    He referred further to the various discussions and negotiations between the Six Powers of the European Common Market which might result in changes in the political, and perhaps also other, fields. He said that the North Atlantic Council should remain the main forum of political consultation and, recalling the report of the Three Wise Men which had laid down that consultation should take place prior to important decisions being taken, Mr. Spaak said that in this case this rule was not being followed and other interested NATO Powers would be embarrassed since the Alliance as a whole might be affected if they were confronted with a fait accompli (40) (41). The Netherlands Representative felt that in general the process of consultation was postponed until, the very last moment; the Congo (42) and Algeria were cases in point; and the Council should have discussed the political and economic situation in South America before, and not after, crises of the Castro-type had become political realities.

    57. Thus, there is plenty of documentary evidence to justify the conclusion that by 1960 the development of NATO political consultation had not been uniformly satisfactory: it is also right to say that in many cases the principles and recommendations of the 1956 Three Wise Men, approved though they were by the Council, had either not been completely followed, or even positively neglected; a fate, of course, they shared with the recommendations of the preceding 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community....

    58. The place of this Long Term Planning Exercise in the evolution of political consultation is not an important one; the results were rather disappointing. Nevertheless, the proposals made by the Secretary General and Delegations during the preparatory stages, and the assumptions on which they were based, are worth recalling.

    59. Thus the Secretary General and the Ambassadors agreed that a revision of the Treaty, which would imply an extension of military commitments, was not possible. Their starting-point in reviewing the position was the same as that of the 1956 Committee of Three Wise Men and the 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community, But, once again, there was at times a certain confusion between the extension of political consultations, on the one hand, and of military commitments on the other (43). Thus, during the meeting of 14th October, between the Secretary General and the Ambassadors, Mr. de Leusse pointed out that:

    "The issue at stake is whether member states are prepared to assume responsibilities outside Europe and how to give concrete expression to this solidarity outside Europe"

    Mr. Spaak observed that in Addendum 3 to PO/60/775 he had stated that "Consultation must extend beyond the geographical framework of the Alliance"; but the French Permanent Representative then underlined the difference between "consultation" and "responsibility". To which, Mr.Spaak replied that if the obligations of member states were to be extended, the Treaty should be re-negotiated; and this was precisely what NATO members were unwilling to do.

    60. A second fundamental point the Secretary General and the Ambassadors agreed on was that the problem of political consultation centred not so much on its machinery but rather on the determination of governments to use the available mechanism. This point is repeatedly referred to in all the preparatory papers and is made again, with great emphasis, in paragraph 8 of Section 1 on "General Principles" of the final Council document on Long Term Planning (C-M(61)30 of 2Oth April, 1961)

    61. Thus, within these limits (44) the Secretary General submitted the following propositions:

    • NATO consultation should be world-wide;
    • It did not and should not infringe on bilateral diplomatic relations;
    • Decisions on all problems of common interest should, in last analysis, be taken within the Organization, after consultation permitting all Alliance partners to explain their point of view in full;
    • The Council should remain the essential element of political consultation;
    • The Political Committee should continue to play its role for the exchange of information;
    • The experiment of the NATO observer in meetings without the Permanent Council should be generalised;
    • Restricted and permanent committees for the preparation of certain questions should be created (45);
    • Means should be found enabling the Alliance nations to take rapid and concerted action in exceptional situations (46)

    62. The proposals made by delegations can be roughly summarised as follows:

    • The German Delegation supported the creation of standing committees, meeting at regular intervals (e.g. quarterly) or ad hoc committees set up to keep developments in certain geographical areas constantly under review as well as to exchange views and observations. The German Authorities had the following regions in mind: Africa, the Near East, South-East Asia and the Far East, Latin America, the Satellites and the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany, Communist China, and the USSR. The results of their work would be transmitted to the Council by the Committee of Political Advisers and would serve as a basis for co-ordination of the policy of member states on the regions in question. The German Authorities also advocated the maintenance of close ties between NATO and CENTO and SEATO. In addition to the present exchanges of information, they advocated studying the possibilities of Joint meetings of their Councils, meetings at regular intervals of the Secretaries General and the harmonisation of their emergency planning (47).

    • The Belgian Government supported the representation of NATO by an observer at important political meetings outside NATO and again emphasised the necessity of collective consultation on the basis of complete equality of the Alliance nations, and without prejudice to bilateral diplomatic contacts in special questions (48)

    • The United States Authorities wished, in the first place, consultation to include questions of NATO membership and NATO relationships with other regional organizations and some non-NATO countries. Consideration should be given to raising the USSR Experts Group permanently to a higher level to include policy-making officials. The creation of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group to advise the North Atlantic Council on the wider aspects of the political and strategic interests of the Atlantic nations should be studied as well as its terms of reference and possible composition. The present ad hoc committee of experts on Africa should be made permanent and its level of representation raised to include policy-making officials. There should be more use made of ad hoc consultation among Council members; finally, the United States thought it desirable for the Secretary General or his Representative to participate in certain types of inter-governmental discussions, where the matter under consideration was of direct interest to all NATO members (49)

    The United Kingdom Authorities emphasised in particular the necessity of close consultation on certain points on the Agenda of the United-Nations General Assembly. While tactical decisions should be left to delegations in New York, the United Kingdom considered that the somewhat general discussion in the Committee of Political Advisers should be improved and enlarged by Council discussion on economic and political problems of interest and falling within the NATO terms of reference. On the other hand, the United Kingdom Authorities were not in favour of permanent and official committees on Africa, the Middle East and other regions. These committees should remain ad hoc committees but their procedures should be improved, particularly in increasing the freedom of participating experts to state their opinions, without, of course, committing their Governments, Finally, the British Government supported the idea of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, composed of planning experts of foreign ministries and Secretariat observers; this Group should report direct to the Permanent Council and should function as a kind of seminar, once or twice a year to discuss subjects chosen by the Permanent Council (50).

    63. Nor should we overlook the Ministerial discussions of December 1960 on the basis of a Progress Report on Long-term Planning submitted by the Secretary General (51). Ministers on the whole were in agreement with the points made in the Interim Report, i.e. they agreed on the desirability of consultation on a world-wide scale; there was some divergency of views regarding the objective of global - as opposed to NATO area - consultation; there was, on the whole, a preference for ad hoc and open high-level Experts committees, as opposed to standing and restricted committees; and the United States proposal for a political advisory group was on the whole welcomed on the understanding that the group should definitively come under the authority of the Council. The principle of associating the Secretary General through an observer with certain inter-allied negotiations was not challenged but the question of the desirability of co-ordinated attitudes within the United Nations gave rise again to divergent views.

    64. However, the Final Council Report on Long-Term Planning (52) revealed that all these discussions did not result in anything new, either on principles or on procedures, of NATO political consultation (53). In the main, it stressed this desirability of implementing fully the recommendations of the Report of the Three Wise Men and it declared, on the subject of ad hoc committees and working groups, that procedures should remain flexible. The membership of such ad hoc groups should in principle be open to all, though in some cases a restricted membership might be preferable for practical reasons. As regards the co-ordination of policy on United Nations questions, Representatives thought that:

    "The extent of NATO solidarity will ..... depend on the kind of issue and specific circumstances in each case. As with other subjects, NATO consultation on United Nations subjects will be more likely to achieve its object if Member Governments are both willing to express their own views at an early stage and to take into account the views expressed by others."

    The Report further recognised that as regards consultation during Assembly meetings, national Delegations in New York would have to assume major responsibility for the co-ordination of tactics and timing. Finally, the Report reflected the agreement that "depending on the circumstances, it may be useful for the Secretary General to be associated through an observer with consultations on subjects of interest to the Alliance as a whole that may take place among certain member governments only. This procedure would be without prejudice to the Council's functioning ..... its object being to facilitate later discussion in the Council."

    65. During the subsequent Council discussion on this report (54) the feeling was expressed that the discussions on Long Term Planning had not resulted in much progress; and the present Report was not really an improvement on that of the Three Wise Men in 1956. Mr. Spaak reiterated his preference for standing and restricted committees, but most other Ministers appeared to be in favour of ad hoc and open committees.

    In this connection mention may be made of the Council's decision, in its private meeting of the 17th, May, 1961, to establish an "Ad Hoc Committee on Africa", consisting of representatives of those member nations prepared actively to participate in its work. This committee, in the course of 1961 and 1962, met from time to time to review developments in Africa, particularly in the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi.

    66. The 1961 Long Term Planning Exercise had few practical results; but it eventually did bring about the creation of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, the genesis of which may be summarised as follows.

    67. The idea of such a group had a dual paternity - American and British. There was, however, a significant difference between the United States and the United Kingdom conceptions. The United States envisaged the group as composed of three to five men of broad repute,not subordinate to the Council, meeting once or twice annually, and free to make recommendations on the significant trends affecting the vitality of the Alliance. The United States clearly meant by "men of broad repute" something different from experts; the group was to have a permanent staff and, although quite independent, of the Council, would, of course, eventually report to it.

    The United Kingdom, however, felt that such a group should be one of policy-planning experts from the national foreign ministries, who would meet occasionally to consider long-term planning problems assigned to it by the Council; these experts would work under the Council's direction and report to it although retaining some freedom to conduct this business as they thought fit (55)

    68. At its meeting of 11th October, the Council decided that the Committee of Political Advisers should examine the question (56) During the Committee's discussions it became clear that the Representatives, while, on the whole, favourable in principle to such a Group, were greatly concerned as to its scope and terms of reference. They wanted to avoid duplication of work and stressed the necessity of the Group being well integrated in the general structure of NATO, i.e. being subordinate to the Council in every respect. The fact that the Group was established by the Council and that the Council itself would entrust it with the study of specific subjects was generally felt to reduce an risk of a diminution of the Council's authority.(57)

    69. The Committee reached agreement on a Report to the Council (58) which mentioned the clear understanding "that the Group would be subordinate to the Council" but also insisted on the liberty of members "to express opinions orally or in writing, and to reach conclusions without constant reference back to the Council or to Governments". These conclusions, of course, would not in any way commit Governments. As regards membership, the Report recommended that Delegates should be able to speak with a high degree of experience and authority, assisted if necessary by experts. The Report also assumed that the Group would be chaired by a member of the International Staff. In its meeting on 15th November, 1961, the Council approved the setting-up of an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group, along the lines recommended by the Report of the Committee of Political Advisers (59)

    70. The level of achievement in political consultation after May 1961 up to the present was not on the whole significantly different from the preceding years. The 1962 Political Appraisal of Mr. Stikker (60) indicates that the Council was kept regularly informed of all discussions on East/West relations in general and that, in particular, consultation on contingency planning for Berlin and on possible economic counter measures was continuous and intensive. The information given to the Council is described as of "the greatest value"; but the results of consultation based upon this information are said to have been "somewhat uneven"; the Secretary General was not fully satisfied that "we have found the answer to the problem of maintaining the closest possible contact and consultation between the powers properly concerned and the Alliance as a whole". Again, Council consultation on disarmament was "adequate and useful" but "on occasion .... was not perhaps as fully or as timely as it might have been". As regards co-ordinated action of NATO Powers in the United Nations, co-operation was described to have been "disappointing".

    Nevertheless, the Secretary General thought that the general picture was on the whole an encouraging one although he added that the Alliance was still a long way from having carried fully into effect the Recommendations made in 1956 by the Committee of Three: "There have been failures to consult adequately and in time. Consultation has not always been so full as it might have been".

    71. In this somewhat reserved evaluation by the Secretary General, his reference to "the failure to consult adequately and in time", in order to be appreciated fully, should perhaps be considered against the background of political issues on which little or no consultation took place within NATO, although they should certainly have been discussed, had the 1956 Recommendations been consistently followed (61).

    72. As already mentioned throughout the preceding pages, several innovations were adopted in the Third Stage.

    • The number of elements in the process of political consultation and co-operation increased. One existing element, the Secretary General, acquired new powers and a new importance following the Report of the Three Wise Men;

    • A new element was added in the form of the Committee of Political Advisers; and the Ad Hoc Political Expert Working Groups, responsible for the preparation of regional reports for Ministerial meetings increased steadily in number, thereby illustrating the quickening interest of NATO in events outside the NATO area. The Council, moreover, decided that the Reports of these Groups might include conclusions and indicate implications for Western policy, not necessarily accepted unanimously, on the understanding that dissentient views should also be recorded if the dissenting party so wished (62);

      Existing methods of informing the Council of inter-governmental meetings outside NATO found wider application: the number of personal reports, either by Ministers or by Heads of negotiating Delegations, increased. Also during the last stage, during preparatory works for the abortive 196O Summit meeting, recourse was made to a NATO observer who, however, in the event served to inform the Secretary General rather than the Council as a whole (63);

    • In November 1960, an experiment was made in raising the level of Experts of the ad hoc Political Working Group on Soviet Policy. This experiment gave rise to exceptionally interesting discussions which were, however, not fully reflected in the Report subsequently submitted to Ministers. In fact the original draft report based on these discussions was subsequently re-written in a Working Group of lower-level Soviet Experts. It is, of course, difficult to say whether this was done on instructions from governments but the divergence between the original discussions and the final Report as received by Ministers is a fact which cannot be overlooked in assessing the value of such experiments.

    • The ad hoc Committee on Africa met several times to review developments in that continent and, finally, an Atlantic Policy Advisory Group was created which may be regarded as a sixth element in the consultation machinery.

    • The differentiation between several kinds of meetings of the Council, as evolved during the Second Stage, was adhered to during the Third Stage and found even stricter application after Mr. Stikker succeeded Mr. Spaak as Secretary General.


The Committee of Three, consisting of Mr. Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway, Dr. Martino, Foreign Minister of Italy, and Mr. Pearson, Secretary of State for External Affairs of Canada, were appointed by decision of the North Atlantic Council of 6th May "to advise the Council on ways and means to improve and extend NATO co-operation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community".

A study of some of these problems had already been made by the Committee on the Atlantic Community in 1951 - 1952 under the chairmanship of Mr. Pearson. This Committee did not propose rigid rules or "automatic" formulae for consultation, but stressed the need for the development of a "habit of consultation" between member governments. As criteria for matters which ought to be subject to consultation, the Committee indicated the degree of common interest, or the likelihood of a need for co-ordinated action. Furthermore, the Committee made a general distinction between exchange of information, on the one hand, and actual consultation on the other, the former covering a wider range of topics than the latter. Some progress has since been made towards co-ordination of the foreign policies of the NATO countries. The Council has begun to serve as a forum for exchange of information on matters of common concerns, and active and effective consultation has in some cases taken place. However, there are also examples of lack of co-ordination and of unilateral action by member governments in matters directly concerning the Alliance, which have had detrimental effects on the unity of NATO and thereby weakened the organization. It therefore seems necessary to find new ways and means of promoting the habit of using the Council as an active instrument of consultation in order to reach closer co-operation in the non-military fields.

The questions which follow are intended to elicit in as concise form as possible, the views of your Government on the problems raised by the task set the Committee by the Council. This list is not to be regarded as exhaustive, and should your Government wish to supplement their answers with any additional statements or suggestions, these will be welcome.


1. It might be useful to consider the desirability of laying down certain basic principles as guidance for the political consultation on matters of common concern, such as the following:

(a) The Council should be kept fully informed of any political development in any area which may affect significantly member countries of the Alliance as a whole.
(b) The duty of informing the Council at an early stage of such developments should be accepted.
(c) The Council should normally not be requested to take decisions or adopt resolutions of political importance without having had the opportunity to consider the matter in the light of all available information.
(d) Member governments should endeavour not to make political declarations significantly affecting the Alliance or its member nations without prior consultation through the Council. It would be of interest to know the view of member governments on this proposal, with a statement indicating to what extent the above-mentioned principles are acceptable.

2. To what extent and under what circumstances is your Government prepared to participate in the following types of consultation within NATO?

  1. Informal exchanges of information;
  2. Preparation of common appreciations in the light of current developments;
  3. Consultations with the aim of arriving at a general consensus as a basis for determination or guidance of individual government policies;
  4. Consultation with the aim of arriving at agreement on specific policies or courses of action.

3. What should be the basis for determining the matters of common concern which might be the subject of consultation under the four headings listed above, and what should be regarded as the factors limiting such consultation, such as respect for liberty of action of each member government and the non-universal character of NATO?

4. To what extent can NATO assist in the peaceful settlement of inter-member disputes and differences? In view of the provisions of Article 1 of the Treaty, should procedures of conciliation and peaceful settlement of disputes, similar to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter and other international agreements be adopted by NATO?

5. Should NATO give more formal recognition to parliamentary associations and the Parliamentary Conference and what should be the relationship between the Council and these parliamentary groupings?


1. Does your Government consider that closer co-operation between member countries of NATO within the specialised organizations to which they belong and the establishment of closer relations with such organizations, would represent the most suitable means for promoting greater unity in the economic field between member countries?

2. In this connection, as regards the OEEC, does your Government consider the participation of the United "States and Canada as merely "associated members", to be adequate?

3. Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that the parties will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies. Does your Government think that the activities of other organizations, in-particular the OEEC, is sufficient to discharge the responsibilities of NATO countries in this respect? To what extent does your Government consider that NATO could assist in the conciliation of economic conflicts arising between member countries?

4. Does your Government feel that NATO may have some interest in developing public works for civilian use, as has been done in the military field?

5. Does your Government consider that NATO should take an active part in the economic development of underdeveloped regions within the NATO area or would it be preferable that NATO should limit itself to the appraisal of the political importance for the Alliance of development programmes to this end.

6. (a) Does your Government consider that NATO has a vital interest in prompting the economic development of underdeveloped countries outside the NATO area? If so, bearing in mind the non-universal character of NATO, what action in assisting underdeveloped countries does your Government consider can appropriately be carried on by NATO countries to achieve the necessary objectives and what co-ordination can be furnished within NATO?
(b) Does your Government consider that the Statutes of existing and planned international financial agencies give them sufficient flexibility to enable them to operate suitably under present political conditions and to meet the requirements of the situation with which NATO is now confronted?

7. (a) Does your Government feel that NATO should consider measures to counter and neutralise Soviet commercial practices which do not conform to the principles by which Western countries carry on their normal trade and financial relations with one another?
(b) Does your Government feel that NATO should consider measures to meet the competition of the Soviet Bloc in the field of contracts for public works in politically sensitive areas?

8. What suggestions can be derived from the experience in the economic field of other regional organizations with a view to the possible application of this experience to other geographical areas?

9. Does your Government consider that it would be in the interests of the Alliance for the NATO countries to consult together when certain important questions are coming up for discussion in international economic bodies in which the Soviet bloc is represented?

10. Are there any other specific economic subjects or classes of subjects of general concern to NATO which are not now being adequately considered in other agencies and which might be discussed usefully in NATO?


Increased co-operation in the cultural field might serve to strengthen relations between NATO countries, provide a larger measure of public support for NATO and encourage the feeling of belonging to an Atlantic Community.

1. Does your Government consider that these aims will be served by setting up:

(a) a common research institute for Atlantic Community studies?

(b) a civilian version of the NATO Defence College in which short courses on political, economic, social and cultural problems of the Atlantic Community would be given to those in the position to influence public opinion, such as teachers, Journalists, etc?

2. Does your Government consider that NATO should encourage co-operation between youth movements in NATO countries, bearing in mind the co-ordination of youth activities in communist countries? Should the Council discuss youth cooperation problems?

3. Does your Government consider that NATO should undertake the co-ordination of measures to increase the recruitment and training on a long term basis of scientists, technicians and specialists, bearing in mind the developments in these fields in communist countries?

4. What educational, activities, if any, should be undertaken by NATO to strengthen the ties of the Atlantic Community, which are not already carried out by existing International Organizations such as UNESCO?

5. Would your Government favour the exchange of service personnel individually or in groups for the purpose of familiarising themselves with conditions in other member countries and for the promotion of goodwill?

6. Which of the possible programmes under questions 1, 2, 3, 4 should, in the judgment of your Government, be financed:

(a) under a commonly financed programme;
(b) on a joint user basis;
(c) singly by member governments?


Increased co-operation in the information field, particularly under the conditions of competitive co-existence and the new Soviet policies, might serve to increase support for NATO of a well-informed public opinion and thus increase the unity of the Alliance.

1. Does your Government consider that the Information Service should concentrate on purely factual information about NATO?

2. Does your Government consider the necessity of a better co-ordination of efforts in the information field to deal with the Soviet initiatives in the propaganda field?

3. Does your Government consider that reciprocal visits of professional groups such as teachers, journalists, etc. should be extended?

4. Does your Government consider that co-operation between the NATO Information Service and national information agencies, governmental as well as private, should "be improved?

5. Considering the importance of the impact on public opinion of extending political consultation in NATO, has your Government any suggestion on how far to go in keeping the public informed of activities in this field?


1. What specific changes in procedure or organizational arrangements would your Government recommend to ensure closer and more effective consultation in the Council to improve and extend NATO co-operation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community?

2. To what extent does your Government consider that, experts could be used more either on a permanent "or ad hoc basis to assist the Council in the process of political consultation?

3. To what extent should the Secretary General play an active role in the field of political consultation, and "to what particular types of problems should such a rôle extend?

4. In view of the economic responsibilities of NATO, and those in prospects, what organizational changes, if any, does your Government consider are required to discharge them?

5. Does your Government consider that greater use could be made of NATO machinery for the circulation on a NATO-wide basis of "basic position material" by individual governments (e.g./ texts of agreements, basic statements of position, etc.)?

6. The suggestion has been made that a closer relationship might be established between NATO and the United Nations, possibly establishing the position of NATO as a regional organization in the terms of Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter. What are the views of your Government on this question?

The following Reports were prepared by the International Secretariat at the request of the Committee of Three:-

(a) Document CTD/4 of 10th August, 1956, on "The possible implications for NATO if it were to become a regional organization in the terms of Chapter 8 of the United Nations' Charter";
(b) Document CTD/6 of 17th August, 1956, outlining the procedures for the pacific settlement of disputes within various international organizations
(c) Document CTD/7 of 28th August, 1956, outlining the work of NATO in the non-military field until 1956. This paper pointed out that during the past few years political discussions by the Council increased steadily in scope and importance but concluded that these consultations had by no means reached the point of using the Alliance to the fullest advantage of all;
(d) Document CTD/8 of 20th August, 1956, giving lists of political and economic questions which had been put before the Council since 1952. These lists distinguished between questions submitted for information only and questions which had been discussed and acted upon by the Council.



Background to the creation of a post of NATO Historical Officer (NHO)

(1) However, the Council, in May 1961, did create an "open"and "ad hoc" committee on Africa

(2) The procedures, outlined above, were agreed on 30th April, 1951; the procedures followed before were slightly different (See document D-D(51) 92 final)

(3) C7-D/13, 15th September, 1951

(4) C7-D18 (final)

(5) Annex A to document C7-D/18 (final); see also Annex B to that document

(6) C8-D/6

(7) C9-D/8

(8) A good summary of inter-relations between the North Atlantic Community (Pearson) Committee, the Temporary Council Committee and the Lisbon proposals will be found in the document d-D(51) 310, of 21st December, 1951. Also of course, to be consulted, the relevant discussions at the Lisbon meeting.

(9) C9-D/4 (Final), 17th March, 1952; See also the Reports submitted by the Temporary Council Committee of 1951.

(10) The discussions of the Council deputies prior to the Lisbon Conference are an interesting source of knowledge as regards the hesitancies with which governments approached the subject of re-organization, and, in particular, the terms of reference and the power of the Secretary General and/or the Secretariat.

(11) C-R (52)16, paragraph 44

(12) see also, for the Council's attitude on this point, below, paragraphs 46 and 68

(13) C-M (52) 125, paragraph 26

(14) The list of these questions show the wide range which, in the Secretay General's view, NATO consultation should cover:

  1. the Saar;
  2. European Defence Community
  3. Trieste
  4. The position of Sweden, Finland, Yugoslavia, Spain and the Commonwealth in relation to NATO;
  5. The position of other defence organizations in relation to NATO
  6. Indo-china and the French defence effort;
  7. Korea, and the American defence effort.

(15) See also below paragraph 51 and 56

(16) See below paragraph 59

(17) C-M(53) 45 (18th April, 1953) and C-M(53) 162 (7th December 1953)

(18) C-M (54)115 (9th December, 1954)

(19) C-M (55)122, 6th December, 1955

(20) C-M(56)54

(21) C-M (56)135

(22) see Annex to CT-D/8

(23) cf. the letter of transmittal (not published) of the Committee of Three Wise Men, december 1956

(24) C-R(53) 32

(25) C-M(55)122, 6th December, 1955

(26) See also C-M(57)60, paragraph 74 (24th April 1957) (Lord Ismay's report on April 1952 - April 1957)

(27) CTD/2 of 3rd July, 1956

(28) At the time the International Secretariat collated in a working paper (CT-WP/3 of 31st August, 1956) the replies of Member Governments as far as available at that date. This document is in the Committee's files.

(29) The letter of transmittal confirms once again that the Suez affair in itself had little to do with the setting-up of the Committee of Three in May 1956.

(30) "Reaffirmed and elaborated"; in fact; particularly in the field of basic principles, the Committee of Three reproduced much of what had already been said, or implied, in the reports of the 1951 Committee on the North Atlantic Community. See also above:"Conclusions"

(31) See above, paragraph 20 (Ismay's memorandum of 1952) and below paragraph 67 ff (creation of Atlantic Policy Advisory group), for the Council's constant efforts to safeguard its authority as principal forum of political consultation.

(32) Paragraph 56 of the committee's Report

(33) See below paragraph 61

(34) C-M(58) 55, 26th March, 1958

(35) C-M(58)118, 3rd September, 1958

(36) Procedure and Co-ordination Committee, Committee on European Security, Committee on International Co-operation

(37) C-M(60)47 of 26th April, 1960

(38) C-M(61)30, 20th april, 1961 (Long-Term Planning, Part I Political consultation), submitted to the May Ministerial meeting 1961

(39) See, in the same series "NATO consultation in the preparations for the Summit Conference scheduled for May 1960 (NHO/61/1 of 17th August, 1961), paragraph 2 ff, where these points have been discussed at length.

(40) Cf. Addendum to PO/60/775, 15th September, 1960, in the same sense

(41) See also the interesting statement of Mr. Stikker in the private Council meeting of 23rd June, 1962

(42) On the Congo, there actually had been no genuine consultation at all prior to the crises; see, for the Secretary General's opinion on this point: Addendum to PO/60/775 of 15th September, 1960

(43) See also above paragraph 26

(44) PO/60/775 and Addenda

(45) These restricted or open, permanent or ad hoc committees are a constantly recurring theme in the Long Term Planning Exercise. These committees made up of all, or certain, Permanent Represantatives (cf. United States proposals) should not be confused with the bi-annual experts groups

(46) This may be compared with Mr. Rusk's suggestions, after Cuba, on improved procedures for consultation in emergencies and on "crisis management" (Ministerial meeting of December 1962)

(47) TYP/G(60)1

(48) TYP(60)1

(49) TYP/US(60)1; see also PO/61/441 of 24th April, 1961, reproducing Ambassador Finnletter's statement on United States suggestions of 17th April, 1961. He elaborated on the role of the select committes (study of regional and functional problems) and of the proposed Advisory group which, in the United States view, should not be subordinate to the Council. See below, paragraph 66ff.

(50) TYP/UK(60)1

(51) C-M (60) 111, 5th December 1960; for summary of discussions, see TYP(61)1 of 10th January, 1961

(52) C-M (61) 30, 21th April, 1961

(53) Cf. Ministerial discussion on final report, April 1961, below, paragraph 65

(54) C-R (61) 18 and C-R (61) 19; see also PO/61/529/6 of 9th June, 1961, which gives a full summary of Ministers' discussions on objectives and methods of Political Consultation

(55) Cf. PO/61/441, 24th April, 1961;Cf.also United Kingdom Note of the 6th October, 1961 (C-M(61)88)

(56) C-R (61) 51, Item3, paragraph 16 (2)

(57) This insistence on keeping the authority of the Council intact, and the rejection of a more or less independent role of the proposed Group, had already been marked features of the Ministers' discussions on the Long Term Planning Report at Oslo; see C-R (61) 18, C-R (61) 19

(58) C-M (61) 101 of 31st october, 1961

(59) C-R (61) 58 of 15th November, 1961, Item I

(60) C-M (62) 47 of 17th April, 1962

(61) See "Conclusions",where some of these issues have been listed

(62) C-R (61) 48, II, 4th October, 1961

(63) See for his instructions, paragraph 6 of NHO/61/1


The declassified and public released documents mentioned in the footnotes are available in the NATO Archives Reading Room.

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