Last updated:
04-Nov-2002 6:43 PM









Home> Terrorism
New Threats and Challenges
16 September 2002
Press kit
Key information,
quotes and background
Key texts
Washington Treaty, Article 5
Key links
NATO and Terrorism
What is Article 5?
Tackling Terror: NATO'S New Mission, NATO Secretary General, 20 June 2002
International Security and the Fight Against Terrorism, NATO Secretary General, 20 June 2002
Aiding America, Christopher Benett

Tackling Terror: NATO's new mission

Following the 11 September attacks against the United States, NATO invoked - for the first time in its history - Article 5, its mutual defence clause, declaring the attacks to be an attack against all NATO member countries.

This landmark decision was followed up with a series of measures aimed at assisting the United States in the campaign against terrorism.

At the Prague Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government plan to adopt further measures aimed at strengthening the Alliance's capabilites for fighting terrorism.

Invoking Article 5

On 12 September 2001, NATO decided that - if it was determined that the attack against the United States was directed from abroad - it would be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Article 5 is the fundamental principle of NATO and states that an armed attack against one member will be considered as an armed attack against all members.

On 2 October 2001, following briefings by United States envoys at NATO, the decision to invoke Article 5 was confirmed.

NATO's contribution

This expression of solidarity was quickly followed by practical measures aimed at assisting the United Sates.

NATO airborne early warning aircraft (AWACS) were deployed to the United States and an Alliance naval force was sent to the eastern Mediterranean. NATO-led forces in the Balkans are also acting against terrorist groups with links to the Al-Qaida network.

NATO countries also agreed to other measures including enhanced sharing of intelligence, blanket overflight rights for United States and other Allied aircraft; and access to ports and airfields on their territory.

Enhancing capabilities

In December 2001 NATO's foreign and defence ministers decided that the Alliance must examine ways of adapting its military capabilities to the changed security environment after September 11.

This commitment was reiterated at subsequent meetings, with a view to submitting proposals to Heads of State and Government at the Prague Summit.

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