Two World Wars led the United States, among other things, to a full realisation of its role as a global actor. Tentatively after the First World War, and more decisively after the Second, the United States shed a tendency toward isolationism that had characterised its foreign policy from the very beginning.
The commitment to the advancement of peace and equilibrium by the strongest world power to emerge from the Second World War led to the creation of a universal peacekeeping mechanism - the United Nations - and a close alliance with the part of Europe that had given birth to the American democracy.
The relationship that took shape after 1944 has been one of the soundest and most enduring pillars of the global equilibrium. It has also taken the form of a military alliance - the Atlantic Pact or NATO- but since the outset has in truth stood for a much wider and deeper bond…
This is a bond based on shared values that are espoused with diverse nuances on both sides of the Atlantic. It is the fruit of an interpenetration of economies that has no equal in any other system of relations between nations. It is one of the factors that has driven European integration, a process that is keenly supported by the United States, which has sought in Europe a group of partners who would be able to leave behind them the divisions of the past and seek together to fulfil the values on which the West is founded: freedom, peace, prosperity and development.
In this respect, the transatlantic relationship is a very real concept that existed in advance of and quite apart from all those political and institutional decisions that have helped make it what it is today. But, if we wish to single out one political act that, more than any other, has stamped its character on Euro-American relations, that is the Marshall Plan: that massive operation to support the economic recovery of a Europe left in ruins by the war. The Plan launched by the United States in 1947 later evolved into the creation of a common, transatlantic economic organisation, the OECD, which was intended to coordinate the endeavour of mutual cooperation for development.
Compared with the approach of the Soviet bloc, which imposed authoritarian regimes by force, the Marshall Plan chose to nurture relations between the two shores of the Atlantic regarding respect for individual freedoms and support for the legitimate aspirations of all peoples to achieve prosperity. It was the transatlantic relationship founded on these values more than the military pact that emerged victorious at the end of the Cold War.
It is not therefore only as a "protagonist in the balance of terror" that the transatlantic bond has provided nearly fifty years of relative peace and stability and protected Europe and the rest of the world from a new, disastrous conflict. It is, rather, through its role as a driving force for the inclusion of all in democracy and prosperity that it survives as a vital component of a global village whose choices will hopefully be guided towards peace.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, new hopes were mingled with the uncertainties of a planet where equilibrium no longer rigidly depended on the confrontation between the two blocs. This is a world that has had to piece together the Balkans, torn by ethnic tensions, witness the tragedy of 11 September 2001 and the threat of a "clash of civilisations", and which fears uncontrolled nuclear proliferation. It is, above all, a world that has realised that in the absence of freedom, respect for human rights and dignified economic development extended to all peoples, there can be no serious hope for peace.
In this scenario the role of the partnership between the countries best equipped to act as promoters of freedom and development is a vital and unique one, even more than in the scenario of the cold war. It is a role that requires these countries to act as a focus for convergence on the path to prosperity, cooperation, dialogue and the dignity of the individual. In this respect, it is the relationship between all the diverse components of the West that lends full significance to the new goals of integration, starting with the European Union's expansion programmes.
However, as the group of countries that has benefited most from development and which is able to exert a particular influence, the community that identifies itself in the transatlantic bond must also acknowledge its responsibilities and equip itself with the means to take action in any crisis that endangers peace or human dignity.
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 civilisation 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 :
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:
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.
Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any other of the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Prague on 21 November 2002
1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, met today to enlarge our Alliance and further strengthen NATO to meet the grave new threats and profound security challenges of the 21st century. Bound by our common vision embodied in the Washington Treaty, we commit ourselves to transforming NATO with new members, new capabilities and new relationships with our partners. We are steadfast in our commitment to the transatlantic link; to NATO's fundamental security tasks including collective defence; to our shared democratic values; and to the United Nations Charter.
2. Today, we have decided to invite Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to begin accession talks to join our Alliance. We congratulate them on this historic occasion, which so fittingly takes place in Prague. The accession of these new members will strengthen security for all in the Euro-Atlantic area, and help achieve our common goal of a Europe whole and free, united in peace and by common values. NATO's door will remain open to European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty.
3. Recalling the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and our subsequent decision to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, we have approved a comprehensive package of measures, based on NATO's Strategic Concept, to strengthen our ability to meet the challenges to the security of our forces, populations and territory, from wherever they may come. Today's decisions will provide for balanced and effective capabilities within the Alliance so that NATO can better carry out the full range of its missions and respond collectively to those challenges, including the threat posed by terrorism and by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
4. We underscore that our efforts to transform and adapt NATO should not be perceived as a threat by any country or organisation, but rather as a demonstration of our determination to protect our populations, territory and forces from any armed attack, including terrorist attack, directed from abroad. We are determined to deter, disrupt, defend and protect against any attacks on us, in accordance with the Washington Treaty and the Charter of the United Nations. In order to carry out the full range of its missions, NATO must be able to field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed, upon decision by the North Atlantic Council, to sustain operations over distance and time, including in an environment where they might be faced with nuclear, biological and chemical threats, and to achieve their objectives. Effective military forces, an essential part of our overall political strategy, are vital to safeguard the freedom and security of our populations and to contribute to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region. We have therefore decided to:
We reaffirm that disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation make an essential contribution to preventing the spread and use of WMD and their means of delivery. We stress the importance of abiding by and strengthening existing multilateral non-proliferation and export control regimes and international arms control and disarmament accords.
5. Admitting Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia as new members will enhance NATO's ability to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. They have demonstrated their commitment to the basic principles and values set out in the Washington Treaty, the ability to contribute to the Alliance's full range of missions including collective defence, and a firm commitment to contribute to stability and security, especially in regions of crisis and conflict. We will begin accession talks immediately with the aim of signing Accession Protocols by the end of March 2003 and completing the ratification process in time for these countries to join the Alliance at the latest at our Summit in May 2004. During the period leading up to accession, the Alliance will involve the invited countries in Alliance activities to the greatest extent possible. We pledge our continued support and assistance, including through the Membership Action Plan (MAP). We look forward to receiving the invitees' timetables for reforms, upon which further progress will be expected before and after accession in order to enhance their contribution to the Alliance.
6. We commend Albania for its significant reform progress, its constructive role in promoting regional stability, and strong support for the Alliance. We commend the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) for the significant progress it has achieved in its reform process and for its strong support for Alliance operations, as well as for the important steps it has made in overcoming its internal challenges and advancing democracy, stability and ethnic reconciliation. We will continue to help both countries, including through the MAP, to achieve stability, security and prosperity, so that they can meet the obligations of membership. In this context, we have also agreed to improve our capacity to contribute to Albania's continued reform, and to further assist defence and security sector reform in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia through the NATO presence. We encourage both countries to redouble their reform efforts. They remain under consideration for future membership.
Croatia, which has made encouraging progress on reform, will also be under consideration for future membership. Progress in this regard will depend upon Croatia's further reform efforts and compliance with all of its international obligations, including to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The Membership Action Plan will remain the vehicle to keep aspirants' progress under review. Today's invitees will not be the last.
7. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) have greatly enhanced security and stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. We have today decided to upgrade our cooperation with the EAPC/PfP countries. Our political dialogue will be strengthened, and Allies, in consultation with Partners, will, to the maximum extent possible, increase involvement of Partners, as appropriate, in the planning, conduct, and oversight of those activities and projects in which they participate and to which they contribute. We have introduced new practical mechanisms, such as Individual Partnership Action Plans, which will ensure a comprehensive, tailored and differentiated approach to the Partnership, and which allow for support to the reform efforts of Partners. We encourage Partners, including the countries of the strategically important regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia, to take advantage of these mechanisms. We welcome the resolve of Partners to undertake all efforts to combat terrorism, including through the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism. We will also continue to further enhance interoperability and defence-related activities, which constitute the core of our partnership. Participation in the PfP and the EAPC could be broadened in the future to include the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina once necessary progress is achieved, including full cooperation with the ICTY.
8. We welcome the significant achievements of the NATO-Russia Council since the historic NATO-Russia Summit meeting in Rome. We have deepened our relationship to the benefit of all the peoples in the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO member states and Russia are working together in the NATO-Russia Council as equal partners, making progress in areas such as peacekeeping, defence reform, WMD proliferation, search and rescue, civil emergency planning, theatre missile defence and the struggle against terrorism, towards our shared goal of a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe. In accordance with the Founding Act and the Rome Declaration, we are determined to intensify and broaden our cooperation with Russia.
9. We remain committed to strong NATO-Ukraine relations under the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. We note Ukraine's determination to pursue full Euro-Atlantic integration, and encourage Ukraine to implement all the reforms necessary, including as regards enforcement of export controls, to achieve this objective. The new Action Plan that we are adopting with Ukraine is an important step forward; it identifies political, economic, military and other reform areas where Ukraine is committed to make further progress and where NATO will continue to assist. Continued progress in deepening and enhancing our relationship requires an unequivocal Ukrainian commitment to the values of the Euro-Atlantic community.
10. We reaffirm that security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. We therefore decide to upgrade substantially the political and practical dimensions of our Mediterranean Dialogue as an integral part of the Alliance's cooperative approach to security. In this respect, we encourage intensified practical cooperation and effective interaction on security matters of common concern, including terrorism-related issues, as appropriate, where NATO can provide added value. We reiterate that the Mediterranean Dialogue and other international efforts, including the EU Barcelona process, are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
11. NATO and the European Union share common strategic interests. We remain strongly committed to the decisions made at the Washington Summit and subsequent Ministerial meetings, in order to enhance NATO-EU cooperation. The success of our cooperation has been evident in our concerted efforts in the Balkans to restore peace and create the conditions for prosperous and democratic societies. Events on and since 11 September 2001 have underlined further the importance of greater transparency and cooperation between our two organisations on questions of common interest relating to security, defence, and crisis management, so that crises can be met with the most appropriate military response and effective crisis management ensured. We remain committed to making the progress needed on all the various aspects of our relationship, noting the need to find solutions satisfactory to all Allies on the issue of participation by non-EU European Allies, in order to achieve a genuine strategic partnership.
12. To further promote peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic Area, NATO will continue to develop its fruitful and close cooperation with the OSCE, namely in the complementary areas of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.
13. The Alliance has played a vital role in restoring a secure environment in South-East Europe. We reaffirm our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all the countries in this strategically important region. We will continue to work with our partners in SFOR and KFOR, the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and other international organisations, to help build a peaceful, stable and democratic South-East Europe, where all countries assume ownership of the process of reform, and are integrated in Euro-Atlantic structures. We remain determined to see that goal become reality. We expect the countries of the region: to continue to build enduring multi-ethnic democracies, root out organised crime and corruption and firmly establish the rule of law; to cooperate regionally; and to comply fully with international obligations, including by bringing to justice in The Hague all ICTY indictees. The reform progress that these countries make will determine the pace of their integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. We confirm our continued presence in the region and we stand ready to assist these countries in the region, through individual programmes of assistance, to continue their progress. In the light of continuing progress and analysis of the prevailing security and political environment, we will explore options for a further rationalisation and force restructuring, taking into account a regional approach. We welcome the successful conclusion of Operation Amber Fox in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have agreed to maintain a NATO presence from 15 December for a limited period to contribute to continuing stability, which we will review in the light of the evolving situation. We note the EU's expressed readiness to take over the military operation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia under appropriate conditions.
14. NATO member countries have responded to the call of the UN Security Council to assist the Afgha
Latest update: 09/07/2012