Role of North Atlantic Treaty Organization

1. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also called North Atlantic Alliance is an intergovernmental military Alliance. NATO is an Alliance of 28 countries roughly bordering the North Atlantic Ocean-Canada, US, Turkey & most members of the European Union. The fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom & security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO safeguards the Allies’ common values of individual liberty, rule of law, the democratic values and the peaceful resolution of disputes and promotes these values throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. It provides a forum in which countries from North America and Europe can consult together on security issues of common concern and take joint action in addressing them. The NATO headquarters is located in Brussels, Belgium.

2. Relations between North American & European members of the Alliance are the bedrock of NATO. These countries are committed to fulfill the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington on 4th April 1949 at the beginning of the cold war. NATO was created to serve as a regional defense Alliance. It’s purpose is to enhance the stability and freedom of its members through collective security system. Its main goal was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. For sixty plus years, it must be rated as one of the most successful defensive Alliances of all time.

3. The Alliance is committed to defend its member states against aggression or the threat of aggression and to the principle that an attack against one or several members would be considered as an attack against all. The Alliance members are ready to defend one another from other nations’ attack or from the attack by terrorist groups.

4. With the changing scenario the Alliance continues to grow and its function has also changed. In the modern world, NATO stands for peace & equality for all. Initially NATO has 11 members which included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey joined the Alliance in 1952. West Germany became its member in 1955 and Spain in 1982. The newly unified Germany replaced West Germany as a NATO member in 1990.

5. After the formal end of the cold war in 1991, NATO reached out to former members of the Warsaw Pact (the communist military Alliance created in 1955 by the USSR to try to counter NATO effects). In 1999, former Warsaw Pact members, i.e. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, became a limited partner of NATO as a member of the NATO-Russian Council. Seven more countries, i.e., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania & Slovakia were formally admitted to NATO in April 2004. Over the years, the existence of NATO has become stronger and strengthened the ties among their members and to growing interests. The treaty itself has provided a model for other collective security agreements.

6. At the same time, NATO activities are no longer confined to Europe. Since 1990-91, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with other countries. It has helped UN by sending peace-keeping forces and through peace-keeping operations. It first involvement with UN was in Yugoslavia in 1992. Thereafter, It took up peace-keeping activities out of Europe by sending troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo etc.

7. NATO expanded its role to include the war on terrorism after 9/11 terrorist attack on world trade centre which was considered an attack on the US. Now NATO’s highest priority is its mission in Afghanistan. For success of its mission, it has even asked help from its arch rival Russia also.

8. Our future world is filled with known & unknown dangers. NATO can act as a lighthouse in the deep sea of various dangers. It is an ever changing organization, continually pushing for growth, unity & change. Various changes in the world scenario are taking place with the influence of NATO. Due to the enormous economic and military strength of NATO’s member countries, It’s a fact that UN cannot succeed in its mission without active support from NATO.

Review of Literature

9. Gardner1 explores the global ramifications of the NATO-Russian relationship. He argues the NATO enlargement into Central Europe risks the over extension of NATO’s political consensus and could provoke Russia and other states that do not expect to become ‘full’ members of the Alliance. He concludes by proposing an alternative system of security for the region.

Ronald L. Tammen, Jacek Kugler & Douglas Lemke2 provide new political ideas for a new century through their work. This work outlines the major shifts that are expected in world politics in the 21st Century, such as the rise of China & India.

Kromer3 examined the historical experience of NATO with new weapon technologies and analyzes their effect on Alliance stability. Concentrating specifically on new, innovative, radically different technologies Kromer uses a focused comparison methodology to develop his arguments.

Dutkiewicz & Jackson4 examine how the eastward movement of NATO has led to a new organization. As they point out, the process was underway by the time the Soviet Union collapsed. Issues of western financial constraint, the Gulf war & events in the former Yugoslavia, are the major concern of their studies.

Amme5 discussed the central problem and continuing question of how to incorporate nuclear weapons into NATO strategy in such a way that the military defense posture possesses sufficient credibility to deter the Soviet Union and reassure the Allies.

In views of Carpenter and Conry6 NATO enlargement reflects a failure on the part of policymakers to recognize new strategic realities and that failure could have dangerous unintended consequences.

Borawski & Young7 provide a serious analysis of the major issue confronting European North American relations. They draw detailed attention to the fundamental political & military issues before the Atlantic Alliance.


The main objectives of the present study are :-

To study the factors which gave birth to this Alliance.

To know about NATO and its purposes.

To view the NATO’s relationship with United Nations.

To study and analyse the impact of US/NATO on UN decision making and conduct of UN peace-keeping operations.

To discuss Alliance’s role in combating terrorism and its future prospects.

To suggest measures for transforming UN as an effective Organisation.


The North Atlantic Treaty

Washington D.C. - 4 April 1949

“The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty:

Article 1

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Article 2

The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.

Article 3

In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.

Article 4

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

Article 5

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 recognised 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.

Article 6

For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;

on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, wherein or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Article 7

This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 8

Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any of the other Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty, and undertakes not to enter into any international engagement in conflict with this Treaty.

Article 9

The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organised as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary; in particular it shall establish immediately a defence committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.

Article 10

The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

Article 11

This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the United States of America, which will notify all the other signatories of each deposit. The Treaty shall enter into force between the states which have ratified it as soon as the ratifications of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications. (3)

Article 12

After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, or at any time thereafter, the Parties shall, if any of them so requests, consult together for the purpose of reviewing the Treaty, having regard for the factors then affecting peace and security in the North Atlantic area, including the development of universal as well as regional arrangements under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 13

After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.

Article 14

This Treaty, of which the English and French texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies will be transmitted by that Government to the Governments of other signatories.

On 22 Oct 1951 on the accession of Greece and Turkey the definition of the territories to which Article 5 applies was revised by Article 2 of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty.

It was realized by the North Atlantic Council on 16 Jan 1963 that the clauses regarding former Algerian Departments of France has become irrelevant since July 3, 1962.

The Treaty came into force on 24 August 1949, after the deposition of the ratifications of all signatory states [i] .


The present study is based on following chapter scheme:

Chapter one of the study offers an introduction to the Alliance & provides an explanation of its origin, fundamental tasks & purposes. NATO’s Preamble & 14 Articles are also discussed in this very chapter. Chapter two throws light on NATO & UN relations.

The Alliance’s operational roles in relation to peace-keeping & peace support are the subject matter of Chapter three. This chapter examines the implementation of Alliance decisions regarding Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq & Sudan.

Chapter four highlights the measures taken by the Alliance to combat the threat from terrorism. Lastly, the future prospects of NATO are also discussed in this chapter.

Chapter five gives a peep into the measures for transforming UN as an effective organization. Bibliography has been given at the end.