NATO Headquarters is the political and administrative centre of the Alliance and the permanent home of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's senior political decision-making body.
The Headquarters is located at Boulevard Leopold III, 1110 Brussels, Belgium, on the northeast perimeter of the city. It is home to national delegations of member countries and to liaison offices or diplomatic missions of partner countries.
The work of these delegations and missions is supported by NATO’s International Staff and International Military Staff, also based at the Headquarters.
Role, responsibilities and people
The NATO Headquarters is where civilian and military representatives from all the member states can come together to make political decisions on a consensus basis. It also offers a venue for dialogue and cooperation between partner countries and NATO member states, enabling them to work together in their efforts to bring about peace and stability.
Roughly 4 000 people work at NATO Headquarters on a full-time basis. Of these, some 2 000 are members of national delegations and supporting staff members of national military representatives to NATO. About 300 people work at the missions of NATO's partners countries. Some 1 200 are civilian members of the International Staff or NATO agencies located within the Headquarters and about 500 are members of the International Military Staff, including 100 civilians.
Meetings at NATO Headquarters take place throughout the year, creating a setting for dialogue among member nations. More than 5 000 meetings take place every year among NATO bodies.
With permanent delegations of NATO members and partners based at Headquarters, there is ample opportunity for informal and formal consultation on a continuous basis, a key part of the decision-making process at NATO.
In 1949, Allied nations estblished NATO's first Headquarters in London, UK, at 13 Belgrave Square.
As NATO's structure developed and more space was needed, its Headquarters moved to central Paris in April 1952. At first it was temporarily housed at the Palais de Chaillot, but moved to a more permanent home in Porte Dauphine in 1960.
In 1966, however, France decided to withdraw from NATO's military structure, which called for another move – this time to Brussels in 1967.
These facilities, however, are no longer adequate in view of the Alliance’s enlargement and transformation. Thus, in 1999, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to construct a new headquarters to meet the requirements of the Alliance in the 21st century.
In November 2002, at a signing ceremony held during the Prague Summit, the Belgian Government transferred to NATO concessionary rights for the construction of the new buildings, opposite the present site.