NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO is a political and military alliance whose primary goals are the collective defence of its members and the maintenance of a democratic peace in the North Atlantic area. All 28 Allies have an equal say, the Alliance’s decisions must be unanimous and consensual, and its members must respect the basic values that underpin the Alliance, namely democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. NATO has a military and civilian headquarters and an integrated military command structure but very few forces or assets are exclusively its own. Most forces remain under full national command and control until member countries agree to undertake NATO-related tasks. NATO's purpose is to protect the freedom of its members. As famously known "...an armed attack upon one...shall be considered an attack upon them all." In recent years, NATO's purpose has expanded to include defense against weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cyber attacks. Since its inception following World War II, NATO has had to continually redefine its focus as a military and political alliance to keep up with the changing face of war. Representatives of NATO
The following countries are members of the Alliance: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each member is represented by an ambassador, who is supported by officials that serve on the different NATO committees. From time to time, the President/Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister or head of Defense will meet to discuss NATO business.
* Political structure
The highest decision-making authority of the Alliance and the forum for political consultations is the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in which all member states are represented. The permanent Council members, the ambassadors, usually meet at least once a week. At the Council’s ministerial meetings, normally held twice a year, each member state is represented by its Minister for Foreign Affairs. Since 1996 the Council has also met with its Defence Ministers on a twice yearly basis. The Defence Ministers also meet annually for more informal political discussions. On a more irregular basis, the Council also meets at the level of Heads of State or Governments. The Defence Planning Committee (DPC) meets at the same level as the Council, and each member state in NATO’s integrated military structure except France participate. The Defence Ministers normally meet twice a year at DPC level. The DPC handles fundamental issues in the field of defence policy and matters relating to NATO’s defence planning. Nuclear issues are dealt with in the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG). Fifteen member states participate in NPG (all except France). The Defence Ministers normally meet twice a year at NPG level as an extension of the Council and the DPC meetings. The Council, the DPC and the NPG are all chaired by NATO’s Secretary General who also chairs all other meetings held in these forums. Matters dealt with at the highest political level within NATO are prepared in a number of standing committees, each with its special area of responsibility. Some of the standing committees deal with civil matters such as economic and environmental issues. The committees are supported by the International Staff (IS), which is subdivided into five Divisions, each headed by an Assistant Secretary General. IS personnel are recruited from all member states and are responsible to the Secretary General. * Command Structure
North Atlantic Alliance is based on a process in which each member country passes through its national parliament and discussions in its public. It is formed in the framework of Article 51 of...
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