NATO leaders met in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the military alliance. The summit that was expected to cover issues like cyber-attacks and strategic challenges posed by China, was overshadowed by differences among the member countries themselves.
These included Turkey’s recent military action in northern Syria, the varying levels of military spending by members as well as the future of the 29-member bloc. More significantly, the summit saw a highly publicised sparring between U.S. President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on issues ranging from terrorism to trade. What was meant to be a show of unity on the 70th year of the world’s most powerful defence alliance, turned out to be a display disagreement on the world stage.
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
- The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
- NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
- NATO’s Headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium
- Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.
- The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.
- Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defense spending of at least 2% of GDP by 2024
- NATO membership is open to “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.”
- NATO also has what it calls the Membership Action Plan. It helps aspiring members prepare for membership and meet key requirements by providing practical advice and targeted assistance.
A POLITICAL AND MILITARY ALLIANCE
Security in our daily lives is key to our well-being. NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
- Political– NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
- Military– NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.
- Every day, member countries consult and take decisions on security issues at all levels and in a variety of fields.
- A “NATO decision” is the expression of the collective will of all 30 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus.
- Hundreds of officials, as well as civilian and military experts, come to NATO Headquarters each day to exchange information, share ideas and help prepare decisions when needed, in cooperation with national delegations and the staff at NATO Headquarters
CHALLENGES FOR NATO
- Maintaining a united stance on the INF.
- Managing NATO’s role in the Western Balkans.
- Navigating political tensions in NATO operations.
- Balancing European ambitions for strategic autonomy.
- A nervous sort of celebration