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Future Tasks of the Alliance - "Harmel Report" (1967)


Administrative history/Scope and content:

In late 1966, the approaching 20th anniversary of NATO and the adjustments made necessary by the French decision of 1966 to withdraw from the military integrated structure prompted the Alliance to re-examine its relevance and adaptation to the existing political context.

At the December 1966 NATO Meeting of Foreign Ministers, Pierre Harmel, Belgium’s Foreign Minister, tabled a proposal calling for a joint analysis of the major events of the past twenty years. He recommended the study be used to determine the effect of events on the objectives and methods of the Alliance and decide whether it was necessary to improve consultation within it. The Foreign Affairs Ministers responded favourably to Harmel’s proposal and empowered Manlio Brosio, NATO Secretary General and the Permanent Representatives to the North Atlantic Council (NAC) with a comprehensive mandate to develop procedures for the study and determine its scope.

In February 1967, the NAC decided to constitute an open-ended Special Group of representatives designated by governments, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary General.   The NAC gave the Special Group on the Future Tasks of the Alliance (also known under the reference AC/261)  the task of studying “ (a) the development of political events as it affects the purposes of the Alliance; (b) the consequent future tasks of the Alliance”. The Special Group was to establish such special procedures, sub-groups and rapporteurs, and request such staff work from the International Staff as it deemed necessary” [ see reference C-M(67)11].


  • Arrangement note:

    The nine file volumes in this series are not organic and they have been assembled by the International Staff Archives from files initially created by the Political Affairs, Defence Planning and Policy Sub-registries of the International Staff and the Private Office of the Secretary General. This compilation was part of a process which was developed following a management survey in 1971 which had recommended that a programme be established by which subject files would be withdrawn from sub-registries, weeded of duplications and unimportant papers and rationalised into one system of historical files.  It was felt at the time that these procedures would lead to a reduction of the total documentation and storage space required, as well as easier access to historical records.

    In some cases the outside dates of the files differ from those of the documents created or accumulated during the Harmel Report Exercise (1967 –1967). Instances of this are found in volume 4/10/3, documents dated 1959, 1961 and 1963 were reissued to the sub-groups as background information. Volume 4/10/5 contains documents dated 1992 which were added to the file to shed light on the absence of a corrigendum to AC/261 –N/13 (Revised)  requested by the Belgian Delegation to the NAC. The last volume includes a document dated February 1968 “Note à l’intention des conférenciers” SN/1 which was used to brief groups of visitors at NATO Headquarters.  

    At the time of their compilation, the Archives Unit divided the volumes into sections, with each heading summarising the main decisions or events recorded in the documents. Within each file each item has been indexed in the language of the document. Therefore the documents are arranged chronologically within volumes and sections. Most of the formal documents exist both in English and in French.  The informal documents and national contributions exist in the language in which they were drafted.

    • Volume 1 : Proposal of Study by P. Harmel and initial considerations (December 1966 – February 1967)
    • Volume 2 : Purposes and procedure of the Study : composition of the four sub-groups (February 1967 – May 1967)
    • Volume 3 : National contributions to previous discussion (April 1967 – August 1967)
    • Volume 4 : Report by Sub-group 1 East – West Relations (April 1967 – November 1967)
    • Volume 5 : Report by Sub-group 2 Inter-Allied Relations (April 1967 – October 1967)
    • Volume 6 : Report by Sub-group 3 The Future Security Policy of the Alliance (April 1967 – October 1967)
    • Volume 7 : Report by Sub-group 4 Developments in Regions outside the NATO area (April 1967 – October 1967)
    • Volume 8 : Interim Report to June 1967 Ministerial meeting in Luxembourg and further discussions. (May 1967 – November 1967)
    • Volume 9 : Approval of Final Report  during December 1967 Council Ministerial Session in Brussels. (October 1967 – December 1967)
  • Conditions of Access and Use:

    The documents in this series have been declassified and approved for public disclosure under the NATO Public Disclosure Programme.

    The documents have been made available for research purposes only and any non-research use of them requires the written permission of NATO.