Consensus decision-making at NATO

  • Last updated: 14 Mar. 2016 16:41

All NATO decisions are made by consensus, after discussion and consultation among member countries.

b040804a 8 April 2004 2nd Meeting of the Military Committee in Permanent Session in 2004 Overview view of the meeting in session.



  • A decision reached by consensus is an agreement reached by common consent.
  • When a “NATO decision” is announced, it is therefore the expression of the collective will of all the sovereign states that are members of the Alliance.
  • This principle of consensus is applied at every committee level, which implies that all NATO decisions are collective decisions made by its member countries.

More background information

Applying the principle of consensus decision-making

Consensus decision-making is a fundamental principle which has been accepted as the sole basis for decision-making in NATO since the creation of the Alliance in 1949.

Consensus decision-making means that there is no voting at NATO. Consultations take place until a decision that is acceptable to all is reached. Sometimes member countries agree to disagree on an issue. In general, this negotiation process is rapid since members consult each other on a regular basis and therefore often know and understand each other's positions in advance.

Facilitating the process of consultation and consensus decision-making is one of the NATO Secretary General's main tasks.

The principle of consensus decision-making applies throughout NATO.