The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also known as the North Atlantic Alliance is the intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries that implements the North Atlantic Treaty and constitutes a system of collective defense, meaning that the independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by an external party. Besides the member countries, an additional 21 countries take part in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program (that aims to create trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union) and 15 others involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.
As stated on their website, the organization’s purpose is to “guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means”. When it comes to the political side, they are preventing conflict by promoting democratic values and enabling member states to consult and cooperate on security-related issues and defense. As for the military, the organization is committed to resolving their disputes peacefully, but if such effort were to fail, they have the military power that would undertake crisis-management operations.
When it comes to the decisions and actions of NATO, the member countries consult in order to take these, as every “NATO decision” is a decision of all 29 members. However, as aforementioned, the organization works with a wide network of international organizations and almost 40 non-member countries that pursue dialogue and practical cooperation on a wide range of political or security-related issues. Yet, these partners no not have the same authority regarding decision-making as the member states.
As an alliance that adapts itself to ensure its structures, capabilities, and policies meet the current and future threats, NATO has a strategic concept, which is a document that outlines their fundamental security tasks and their enduring purpose and nature. Documents as such identify the main features of the new security environment and continue with the elements of the organization’s approach to security, providing guidelines for the adaptation of the military forces. Not only that, but it also takes into account global security changes to be fully prepared in executing its tasks.
The current Strategic Concept “Active Engagement, Modern Defense” (2010) emphasizes Alliance solidarity and the importance of transatlantic consultation as well as a continuous process of reform and it aims to promote international security through cooperation. To ensure this cooperation, it emphasizes NATO’s open-door policy for all European countries and enhances partnerships, reinforces arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation efforts.
Hence, there are three essential core tasks: collective defense (the collective assistance of members against attack in accordance to the treaty mentioned in the beginning), crisis management (combining political and military tools to manage developing crises that could potentially affect security), and cooperative security (engaging actively to enhance international security through partnerships with relevant countries and international organizations).
The Journal of Global Security and Military Studies presents articles that inform the public of the strategies enforced by NATO and the EU in order to preserve international security as well as taking a further look regarding the actions taken in order to achieve their mission and analyzing in detail such information.