The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.
NATO's headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, where the Supreme Allied Commander also resides. Belgium is one of the 28 member states across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes.
NATO’s essential purpose
The essential purpose of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
- It promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defence and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
- It is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations.
- It is an alliance of countries from Europe and North America. It provides a unique link between these two continents for consultation and cooperation in the field of defence and security, and the conduct of multinational crisis-management operations.
Structure of Governance of NATO
- NATO is ultimately governed by its 28-member states.
- Permanent Members from the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO.
- The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made; action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.