North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
The North Atlantic Treaty, signed on April 4, 1949, introduced a new epoch in regional collective security. NATO today consists of 26 countries that form a military alliance to ensure collectively the security of each Member State. Geographically it is centered upon Europe and North America. Its Member States include: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Its main objectives are to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area and to provide Members with a secure collective defense regime for the preservation of peace and security. Article 5 of the Treaty enumerates how these aims are to be achieved. This Article asserts that in the case of an armed attack against one or more of the Member States, in Europe or North America, it shall be considered to be an armed attack against all of them. The Cold War was the original reason for the creation of the Organization and it was in this context that action was envisaged. Since the end of the Cold War, former members of the Communist block have joined NATO and it has taken on a much broader role including becoming involved in action outside of the territory of its Member States.
||Keywords: collective security, use of force, Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, NATO expansion, Afghanistan
The organization is divided into two parts - a civilian organization and a military organization. The civilian section includes the Secretariat and the North Atlantic Assembly. The military section operates under the Council Military Committee and this comprises the Chiefs of Staff from the Member States. This Council meets in Washington D.C. and is almost continually in session. The main decision and policy making bodies are the North Atlantic Council, the Defense Planning Committing and the Nuclear Planning Group. Summit meetings at the level of Heads of State and Government undertake major decisions on aims and objectives but are held when deemed necessary.
Recent Development: NATO in Afghanistan
After the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001, Article 5 of the NATO Treaty was invoked. NATO is central to the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. NATO spearheads the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Not all countries who have contributed forces are members of NATO. For example, Australia contributed a number of troops, all of whom were withdrawn in 2008, but it is under NATO's command. The invasion of Afghanistan after September 11th has been the biggest operation undertaken by NATO. This action has been authorised by the Security Council. The length and complexity of the operation has tested NATO's coherence and ability to deal with not only military action but also rebuilding a state's infrastructure, including training military and police forces and establishing a stable government. Recently the United Nations has requested that NATO become involved in countering the narcotics trade in Afghanistan. Only recently, has the UN had any success in countering opium production in Afghanistan and it is hoped that NATO will be able to aid in its further reduction. The recent Nawabad attack has raised questions regarding the conduct of some NATO operations in the country. American forces have been blamed for the death of up to 92 civilians. This claim has been denied by the US army however, both Afghani Government authorities and the United Nations have claimed that a large number of civilians were killed in the attack. In the light of recent evidence that has come to light, the US Army has begun another inquiry into the incident. Talks of a mini-surge, similar to the one that had such evident results in Iraq, seem to be coming to fruition. Certainly the new US President appears to be focusing in on Afghanistan. However both the Canadian and Dutch NATO forces will leave Afghanistan in 2009 and any increase in US forces may only serve to counterbalance this loss.
Recent Development: Expansion of NATO Membership
The expansion of NATO into the former Soviet bloc has not been without controversy. Former members of the Warsaw Pact, the Communist Bloc's equivalent organisation, are now members of NATO. This includes Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary and former parts of the USSR such as Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Other former Soviet States are currently in negotiations to join; this includes Georgia and the Ukraine who are currently in negotiations to begin the accession process. The Membership Action Plan gives assistance to those states that wish to join to alliance. Three countries: Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, are currently members of the NATO's membership action plan (MAP).
Recent events in Georgia have once again brought the expansion of NATO into the fore and Russian resistance to NATO's extension towards its borders. Russia is particularly adamant that NATO extends no further east towards its borders. It already borders NATO in Norway, Estonia and Latvia. One of the most controversial areas is in regard to the placement of a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia strongly opposes any such installation. Russia has suspended its compliance with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe partly in response to this. In August of 2008, the US and Poland concluded negotiations and both countries argued that the missile defence system would greatly enhance NATO's collective security. At the 2008, Summit NATO stated that Georgia and the Ukraine would become members of NATO, though it did not set out any timeline for their membership, Russia has opposed the membership of both these countries. This was reaffirmed in December 2008. The situation in Georgia regarding the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia further complicates Georgia's potential membership. In September of 2008, the representatives of the North Atlantic Council and the Secretary General of NATO travelled to Georgia. The first meeting of NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) was held at this time. This body was created by NATO member's foreign ministers in August of 2008 following on from the war between Russia and Georgia. The NGC was created to further cooperation with Georgia in its reforms to enable it to join NATO. It is also to assist in Georgia's recovery from the recent war. As well as the work of the NGC, NATO is administrating a trust fund to enable Georgia to dismantle its missile stockpiles. While the Cold War may be over, it is clear that NATO must still be cognisant of the desires of Russia and events of recent months suggests that a return to some aspects of the Cold War relationship between Russia and NATO maybe occurring.
In 2009 NATO will celebrate its 60th Anniversary and it is still as relevant today as it was in 1949. Afghanistan and expansion into Eastern Europe will prove to be the greatest issues over the next decade. In Afghanistan, the war with the Taliban appears to be stagnating, the question for NATO is can it be as good at nation building as it has been in taking military action. Its efforts thus far do not give much hope; the new US administration will have a great impact upon any success here. As to expansion into Eastern Europe, a delicate balancing act is required. This does not mean that NATO should give way to Russia's claims to a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe but if a mannered approach will achieve expansion without confrontation this is far preferable than long term enmity between NATO and Russia.
Durham Law School
1 December 2008
North Atlantic Treaty Apr. 4, 1949, 34 UNTS 241
The original membership consisted of the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Iceland., Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom
North Atlantic Treaty, preamble.
Article 5 reads:
The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually, and in concert with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area..
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Tarcisio Garzini, NATO's role in the collective security system, 8 (2) J. CONFLICT & SECURITY L. 231, 231-263 (2003)
The Assembly is made up of parliamentarians each Member State. This is not mentioned in any of the treaties and can only make recommendations.
Security Council Resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, S.C. Res. 1386, U.N. Doc. S/RES/1386 (Dec. 20, 2001) .
NATO Press Release, (Sept. 3, 2008), available at www.nato.int .
Afghan clan rivals 'led US forces to wrong target' in Nawabad attack', TIMES (London), Sept. 9, 2008.
Press Release, Statement by the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on events in South Ossetia, (2008)100, (Aug. 8, 2008).
U.S., Poland Conclude Missile Defence Negotiations (Aug. 14, 2008), available at http://www.state.gov/.
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