Updated: 27-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


meeting in

June 1991

NATO's Core Security Functions
in the New Europe


The purpose of the Alliance: to safeguard freedom and security by political and military means in accordance with UN Charter - Shared values of democracy, human rights and rule of law - Continuing objective of a just and peaceful order in Europe - The Nature of the Alliance: embodiment of the transatlantic link - Common commitment and mutual cooperation - Indivisibility of security - The fundamental tasks of the Alliance: maintenance of a military capability sufficient to prevent war and provide for effective defence - Maintenance of an overall crisis management capability - Development of political initiatives for cooperation - Four fundamental security tasks of the Alliance - Roles of other European institutions - European identity in security and defence - Scope of Alliance and rights and obligations of its members.

The Purpose of the Alliance

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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 security objectives.

  3. 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

  1. 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 disarmament.

  2. To achieve its essential purpose, the Alliance performs the following fundamental security tasks:

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. To deter and defend against any threat of aggression against the territory of any NATO member state.

    4. To preserve the strategic balance within Europe.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

 [ Go to Comm '91 ]  [ Go to Homepage ]