The Purpose of the Alliance
- NATO's essential purpose, set out in the Washington Treaty and reiterated in the London Declaration, is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Based on common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Alliance has worked since its inception for the establishment of a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe. This Alliance objective remains unchanged.
The Nature of the Alliance
- NATO embodies the transatlantic link by which the
security of North America is permanently tied to the security of
Europe. It is the practical expression of effective collective
effort among its members in support of their common interests.
- The fundamental operating principle of the Alliance is
that of common commitment and mutual cooperation among sovereign
states in support of the indivisibility of security for all of
its members. Solidarity within the Alliance, given substance and
effect by NATO's daily work in both the political and military
spheres, ensures that no single Ally is forced to rely upon its
own national efforts alone in dealing with basic security
challenges. Without depriving member states of their right and
duty to assume their sovereign responsibilities in the field of
defence, the Alliance enables them through collective effort to
enhance their ability to realise their essential national
- The resulting sense of equal security amongst the
members of the Alliance, regardless of differences in their
circumstances or in their national military capabilities relative
to each other, contributes to overall stability within Europe and
thus to the creation of conditions conducive to increased
cooperation both among Alliance members and with others. It is
on this basis that members of the Alliance, together with other
nations, are able to pursue the development of cooperative
structures of security for a Europe whole and free.
The Fundamental Tasks of the Alliance
- The means by which the Alliance pursues its security
policy to preserve the peace will continue to include the
maintenance of a military capability sufficient to prevent war
and to provide for effective defence; an overall capability to
manage successfully crises affecting the security of its members;
and the pursuit of political efforts favouring dialogue with
other nations and the active search for a cooperative approach
to European security, including in the field of arms control and
- To achieve its essential purpose, the Alliance performs
the following fundamental security tasks:
- To provide one of the indispensable foundations for a stable security environment in Europe, based on the growth of democratic institutions and commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in which no country would be able to intimidate or coerce any European of force.
- To serve, as provided for in Article IV of the North Atlantic Treaty, as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations on any issues that affect their vital interests, including possible developments posing risks for members' security, and for appropriate coordination of their efforts in fields of common concern.
- To deter and defend against any threat of aggression against the territory of any NATO member state.
- To preserve the strategic balance within Europe.
- Other European institutions such as the EC, WEU and CSCE
also have roles to play, in accordance with their respective
responsibilities and purposes, in these fields. The creation of
a European identity in security and defence will underline the
preparedness of the Europeans to take a greater share of
responsibility for their security and will help to reinforce
transatlantic solidarity. However the extent of its membership
and of its capabilities gives NATO a particular position in that
it can perform all four core security functions. NATO is the
essential forum for consultation among the Allies and the forum
for agreement on policies bearing on the security and defence
commitments of its members under the Washington Treaty.
- In defining the core functions of the Alliance in the
terms set out above, member states confirm that the scope of the
Alliance as well as their rights and obligations as provided for
in the Washington Treaty remain unchanged.