Updated: 5 October 2000 NATO Basic Texts

Study on

Sept. 1995

Study on NATO Enlargement

Chapter 5 : What are the implications of membership for new members, including their rights and obligations, and what do they need to do to prepare for membership ?

  1. New members will be full members of the Alliance, enjoying all the rights and assuming all the obligations under the Washington Treaty. There must be no "second tier" security guarantees or members within the Alliance and no modifications of the Washington Treaty for those who join. Possible new members should prepare themselves on this basis. Although this Chapter describes the principal rights and obligations of new member states, some more specific rights and obligations are covered elsewhere, in Chapters 2, 3 and 4.

A. What will be Expected Politically of New Members

  1. Commitments entered into by new member states should be the same as for present Allies, including acceptance of the principles, policies and procedures already adopted by all members of the Alliance at the time that new members join. Willingness and ability to meet such commitments, not only on paper but in practice, would be a critical factor in any decision to invite a country to join.

  2. Bearing in mind that there is no fixed or rigid list of criteria for inviting new members to join the Alliance, possible new member states will, nevertheless, be expected to :

    • Conform to basic principles embodied in the Washington Treaty: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law;
    • Accept NATO as a community of like-minded nations joined together for collective defence and the preservation of peace and security, with each nation contributing to the security and defence from which all member nations benefit;
    • Be firmly committed to principles, objectives and undertakings included in the Partnership for Peace Framework Document;
    • Commit themselves to good faith efforts to build consensus within the Alliance on all issues, since consensus is the basis of Alliance cohesion and decision-making;
    • Undertake to participate fully in the Alliance consultation and decision-making process on political and security issues of concern to the Alliance;
    • Establish a permanent representation at NATO HQ;
    • Establish an appropriate national military representation at SHAPE/SACLANT;
    • Be prepared to nominate qualified candidates to serve on the International Staff and in NATO agencies;
    • Provide qualified personnel to serve on the International Military Staff and in the Integrated Military Structure if and as appropriate;
    • Contribute to Alliance budgets, based on budget shares to be agreed;
    • Participate, as appropriate, in the exchange of Allied intelligence, which is based entirely on national contributions;
    • Apply NATO security rules and procedures;
    • Accept the Documents which provide the basis for the existing policies of the Alliance. (1)

  3. The Alliance expects new members not to "close the door" to the accession of one or more later candidate members, as referred to also in paragraph 30 of Chapter 2.

B. What Prospective New Members will need to do Politically to Prepare Themselves for Membership

  1. Prospective members will have to have:

    • Demonstrated a commitment to and respect for OSCE norms and principles, including the resolution of ethnic disputes, external territorial disputes including irredentist claims or internal jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, as referred to also in paragraph 6 of Chapter 1;
    • Shown a commitment to promoting stability and well-being by economic liberty, social justice and environmental responsibility;
    • Established appropriate democratic and civilian control of their defence force;
    • Undertaken a commitment to ensure that adequate resources are devoted to achieving the obligations described in section A and C.

C. What Will Be Expected Militarily of New Members

  1. New members of the Alliance must be prepared to share the roles, risks, responsibilities, benefits, and burdens of common security and collective defence. They should be expected to subscribe to Alliance strategy as set out in the Strategic Concept and refined in subsequent Ministerial statements.

  2. An important element in new members' military contribution will be a commitment in good faith to pursue the objectives of standardization which are essential to Alliance strategy and operational effectiveness. New members should concentrate, in the first instance, on interoperability. As a minimum, they should accept NATO doctrine and policies relating to standardization and in addition aim at achieving a sufficient level of training and equipment to operate effectively with NATO forces. PfP cooperation, including the Planning and Review Process, can help to improve the interoperability of Partners' forces with those of NATO Allies and aspiring new members should be expected to participate actively in PfP activities; but these are limited in scope to forces made available by Partners for cooperation in peacekeeping, humanitarian and SAR missions, and related training and exercises.

D. What Prospective New Members Will Need to do Militarily to Prepare Themselves for Membership

  1. The ability of prospective members to contribute militarily to collective defence and to the Alliance's new missions will be a factor in deciding whether to invite them to join the Alliance.

  2. New members will need to adapt themselves to the fact that NATO's strategy and force structure are designed to exploit multinationality and flexibility to provide effective defence at minimum cost. NATO policy is therefore heavily dependent on standardization, particularly in the areas of operations, administration and material. Current NATO standardization priorities include commonality of doctrines and procedures, interoperability of command, control and communications and major weapon systems, and interchangeability of ammunition and primary combat supplies.

  3. There are at present over 1200 agreements and publications that new members should undertake to comply with. Compliance should be an evolutionary and controlled process to enhance Alliance operational effectiveness. Although national participation in standardization is optional, there are a number of areas, such as communication and information systems and measures to facilitate reinforcements where military necessity requires participation. One way of achieving improved interoperability might be for new members to select units that can act as cornerstone units around which the rest of their forces can be developed with priority being given to maximizing these units' interoperability with existing NATO units. To determine the minimum requirements necessary for operational effectiveness, a review of the STANAGs and Allied Publications is already under way. A country-by-country assessment of prospective new members' standardization will also be required, based on levels of standardization displayed during the full range of PfP military and defence activities. A proposal should be developed by the Alliance in consultation with the prospective new member so that it will understand what will be expected of it. In addition, NATO schools and training will need to be developed so that the forces of new members can achieve interoperability with NATO in a reasonable time, and new members can adapt to NATO doctrine across a broad spectrum of activities.

  4. Although the funding of new members' enhanced interoperability is their responsibility, it poses important challenges for the Alliance as a whole. There is a military imperative to achieve the minimum level of interoperability required for military effectiveness as quickly as possible. There is also a political imperative to demonstrate intra-Alliance cohesion, to ensure that new members feel that they are participating fully in the Alliance and to enable them to make an equitable contribution to collective defence at an early stage. In principle, both objectives should be achieved within the existing arrangements for funding Allies' development, procurement, infrastructure and other costs (i.e. using national resources and the Security Investment Programme as appropriate).


  1. These include, in particular:

    • The Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, National Representatives and International Staff (Ottawa Convention, 1951);
    • The NATO Agreement on the Mutual Safeguarding of Secrecy of Inventions relating to Defence, and for which applications for Patents have been made (Paris, 1960);
    • The Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status on their Forces (London, 1951);
    • The NATO Agreement on the Communication of Technical Information for defence Purposes Brussels, 1970);

    as well as

    • The Strategic Concept;
    • Summit Declarations and NAC decisions in Ministerial and permanent session as reflect in NAC Communiques, including those issued in Oslo in June 1992 and Brussels in December 1992 in which the Alliance undertook to support, on a case-by-case basis in accordance with its own procedures, peacekeeping activities under the responsibility of the OSCE and peacekeeping operations under the authority of the UN Security Council, including by making available Alliance resources and expertise;
    • Documents on cooperation between NATO and any partner state already agreed with new member(s) join the Alliance,

    recognizing that Alliance polices evolve over time and in the light of new circumstances.

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