Updated: 23-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


l5th-18th May

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. Acheson.


Council Deputies established to meet permanently in London - Definition of "balanced collective forces" and of "progressive build-up of defence" - North Atlantic Planning Board for Ocean Shipping established.

At the fourth session of the Atlantic Council in London the Foreign Ministers of the 12 nations of the North Atlantic Treaty considered the principles on which their association is founded and the objectives toward which they are working.

They reaffirmed the adherence of their governments to the principles which inspire the United Nations Charter and their conviction that common action under the Treaty is an integral part of the effort which all free nations are making to secure conditions of world peace and human welfare.

They are determined that freedom, which is the common basis of their institutions, shall be defended against every threat of aggression or subversion, direct or indirect. Freedom means the independence of nations, the respect for spiritual values, and the dignity of man. Only a free society can guarantee to the individual, the benefits of economic and social betterment.

They are resolved to secure the economic progress and prosperity of the peoples of their countries and to promote the economic and social development of other peoples of the free world through close co-operation with each other and with other nations. To the immense resources of the free world, and its industrial and scientific development, the peoples of the North Atlantic Community bring the spiritual strength which comes from freedom.

Conscious of the strength and of the will to peace of their countries, the Ministers remain ready to seize any opportunity for achieving a genuine and lasting settlement of international problems: but for so long as some nations are not willing to co-operate on a basis of equality and mutual respect, they believe that the maintenance of peace and the defence of freedom require the organization of adequate military defence.

The nations of the Atlantic Council are accordingly resolved, by their united efforts, to build up a system of defence equipped with modern weapons and capable of withstanding any external threat directed against any of them.

The Council throughout its deliberations recognized that only through co-ordinated planning and joint effort could these objectives be achieved.

To this end the Council took the following decisions to improve the functioning of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to guide its future work.

  1. They decided to establish, by the appointment of Deputies, mechanism to permit the Council fully to discharge its role as the principal and directing body of the North Atlantic Treaty. The full text of the Council resolution on this subject is attached.

  2. The Council in this connection agreed on principles which should guide the work of the Deputies and of the other organizations of the North Atlantic Treaty.

  3. The Council, having considered the reports of the Defence Committee, and the Defence Financial and Economic Committee, issued directives to guide them in their future work. These directives emphasize that the problem of adequate military forces and the necessary financial costs should be examined as one and not as separate problems.

    In formulating their directives the Council proceeded on the basis that the combined resources of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty are sufficient, if properly co-ordinated and applied, to ensure the progressive and speedy development of adequate military defence without impairing the social and economic progress of these countries.

  4. The Council recognizing the indispensability of self-help and mutual aid among the Treaty Powers in making progress towards an integrated defence, and convinced that further mutual assistance is essential to rapid progress towards the strength required for the common security of the North Atlantic area, recommended that each Party make its full contribution through mutual assistance in all practicable forms.

  5. The Council unanimously agreed that if adequate military defence of the member countries is to be achieved it must be along the lines of the most economical and effective utilization of the forces and material at the disposal of the North Atlantic countries. They accordingly urged their governments to concentrate on the creation of balanced collective forces in the progressive build-up of the defence of the North Atlantic area, taking at the same time fully into consideration the requirements for national forces which arise out of commitments external to the North Atlantic area.

  6. In furtherance of Article 9 of the Treaty the Council established a North Atlantic Planning Board for Ocean Shipping to be composed of representatives of the participating countries concerned. This Board will report directly to the Council and will work in close co-operation with other bodies of the Treaty Organization in all matters relating to the factor of merchant shipping in defence planning.

    The Ministers believe that the decisions they have taken here in London represent a marked advance towards the practical realization of the objectives of the North Atlantic Treaty.


The North Atlantic Council established in accordance with Article 9 of the Treaty has so far only met twice at the Ministerial level and on two other occasions when members of the Council have been represented by their governments' diplomatic representatives in Washington.

But under Article 9 the Council is the principal body of the North Atlantic Treaty. It is therefore the paramount duty of the Council to put itself in a position to exercise its full role as the central and most important of the various organs of the Treaty by taking the most effective steps to keep itself informed of all matters which fall within its competence, by taking the necessary decisions and by ensuring the execution of such decisions.

A year's experience has shown that on the political side the meetings of the Council have been too infrequent to permit a sufficient exchange of views on matters of common interest within the scope of the Treaty. On the military side the strategic concept of the Treaty has been adopted and a defence plan drawn up, and the corresponding estimate of the necessary forces is being established. The next step is to put these plans into effect by taking further measures in the direction of common defence, the division of financial responsibilities and the adaptation and development of the necessary forces.

In view of this situation, the Council will in particular undertake the following tasks:

  1. study the inter-relationship of the various programs to support the plans for the defence of the North Atlantic area and ensure co-ordination of the work of the Defence Com- mittee, the Defence Financial and Economic Committee, and all other bodies established under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization;

  2. recommend to governments the steps necessary to ensure that effect is given to the co-ordinated plans prepared for the defence of the North Atlantic area;

  3. exchange views on political matters of common interest within the scope of the Treaty;

  4. promote and co-ordinate public information in furtherance of the objectives of the Treaty while leaving responsibility for national programs to each country;

  5. consider what further action should be taken under Article 2 of the Treaty, taking into account the work of existing agencies in this field.

To enable the Council effectively to carry out its responsibilities and to exercise them continuously, each government will appoint a Deputy to its Council representative. Each Deputy will be in a position to give whatever time may be necessary to ensure that the responsibilities of the Council are carried out effectively.

In the intervals between meetings of Ministers, the Deputies duly authorized by their respective governments, will be responsible, on behalf of and in the name of the Council, for carrying out its policies and for formulating issues requiring decisions by the member governments.

To assist the Council in fulfilling its responsibilities the Deputies, on behalf of their governments, shall select a Permanent Chairman from among their membership. With the advice of the Chairman, the Deputies shall establish a suitable full-time organization composed of highly qualified persons contributed by member governments. The Chairman, in addition to presiding at meetings of the Deputies, shall be responsible for directing the organization and its work.

Member governments will appoint their Deputies with the least possible delay in order that a Chairman may be selected, the organization established, and progress be made on the urgent problems before the Council. The Deputies, assisted by the Chairman and the organization to be created, should begin functioning in the very near future in order that tangible results may be achieved before the next meeting of the Ministers when the progress made will be reviewed. Without minimizing the importance of any of the points listed above, first priority in the work of the organization should be given to points (a) and (b).

The Deputies will have their headquarters in London.

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