Letter from the Secretary-General



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II. History of NATO - Foundations of the Organization and the Washington Treaty: From the Cold War to Afghanistan

The Organization was founded right after the Second World War ended, in 1949.48 The continental Europe was recovering from effects of a war in the magnitude that 36.5 million Europeans died during the 5 years it lasted.49 The motives that initiated the signing of the founding treaty were the risk of Soviet expansionism and using the influence of the United States to prevent another war that may arise from European nationalism.50 The twelve founding members-United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg- signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949, followed by the accession of Greece and Turkey in 1952 and West Germany in 1955.51

Meanwhile in 1950, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US became an actual armed conflict in the Korean peninsula, as the Korean War took place between communist North, supported by the Soviets and the South, supported by the US.52 Although a cease-fire was signed following the war that killed an estimated 2 million Korean civilians, a peace treaty was never agreed on, even now after 50 years.53 As the Cold War progressed and NATO expanded, in 1955 the Soviet inspired Eastern Europe formed the Warsaw Pact, including East Germany; therefore Europe was divided by the symbolic line the Berlin Wall drew in 1961. During this period of time political and scientific aspects of the organization grew, in competition with the Soviet Union.54

In the 1960s the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union grew over a missile crisis in Cuba, a large scale conflict was avoided in the end.55 In 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle announced France’s withdrawal from NATO because the Alliance was heavily influenced by the United States and the United Kingdom56 and he wanted to keep France more independent.57 Consequently NATO’s headquarters were moved to Brussels in 1967.58 French troops and fleet were slowly withdrawn from NATO’s military structure; however France stayed in the Alliance, and in the following years became one of the most important states to provide troops in peacekeeping missions.59

In 1968 the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia which again alarmed the NATO countries about Soviet expansionism. However the idea of protecting the status quo was also in the talks which led to the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1973.60 Nevertheless, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a nuclear war between the Pact and the Alliance was again a possibility. In 1982 Spain joined NATO.61 By mid 1980s the tension remained; however, it was clear that the Pact had lost the scientific competition against the West.62 By late 1980s, the economy of the Soviet Union was collapsing; when East German regime was shaking, the Union did not intervene.63 On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was united, a chain of events started that would result with the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union dissolved.64

Nevertheless, post-Cold War environment in Europe was not entirely stable, conflict sparked up in Yugoslavia as a result of nationalist militarism.65 In response to the continuous breaches of humanitarian law, NATO carried out a 9-day air campaign in 1995 and later on continued to be active in the area with the authorization from the United Nations Security Council.66

NATO executed its first peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, where a humanitarian crisis emerged because of the armed conflict between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian authorities over the freedom of Kosovo. In 1999 NATO started an air campaign67 without the Security Council authorization.68 The Secretary General made a press release prior to the Operation, saying:

Let me be clear: NATO is not waging war against Yugoslavia... Our objective is to prevent more human suffering and more repression and violence against the civilian population of Kosovo... We must stop an authoritarian regime from repressing its people in Europe at the end of the 20th century. We have a moral duty to do so. The responsibility is on our shoulders and we will fulfil it.”69(Secretary General of NATO, 1999)

The Operation Allied Force in Kosovo was concluded when the United Nations Security Council formed an interim government in the area.70 However the fact that NATO, believing a resolution encompassing a military intervention would not pass from the Security Council, intervened with a peacekeeping mission raised questions. NATO officials argued that they could not stay indifferent and observe as human lives were at stake.71 However, the North Atlantic Treaty, in itself, in Article 7, states:

Article 7: 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.” (North Atlantic Treaty, 1949)

The operation in Kosovo remains controversial, since even today, there is no Security Council resolution condemning NATO’s unauthorized intervention.72 Whether NATO, which was initiated as a self-defence organisation can execute peacekeeping missions without the UNSC’s approval, remains a question, since it is not certain that although UNSC has the “primary responsibility” of maintaining international peace and security, that responsibility is exclusive to the Council.73

In September 11, 2001 the United States of America was targeted with multiple terrorist acts which were carried out using passenger planes, Pentagon in Washington and the twin towers of the World Trade Centre were hit, leaving thousands dead or wounded.74 In response the Allies invoked the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty –for the first and only time in its history- and called for collective defensive action.

At this critical moment, the United States can rely on its 18 Allies in North America and Europe for assistance and support. NATO solidarity remains the essence of our Alliance. Our message to the people of the United States is that we are with you. Our message to those who perpetrated these unspeakable crimes is equally clear: you will not get away with it.” (NATO, 2001)75

NATO then intervened in Afghanistan to capture and detain as many Al-Qaida members as possible.76 In December 2001 the Taliban regime fell, followed by the Security Council initiating International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), in 2003 the Force was left to the control of the Alliance.77

Overall, over the course of 60 years since NATO was founded, the Soviet Union collapsed (1991) and the possibility of a world-wide war rising from Europe became smaller and smaller as the European countries integrated in the European Union.78 Therefore following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Allies gathered in Rome in November of 1991 to develop a new strategic concept for the post-Soviet Europe. First, NATO focused also on outside the boundaries of member countries in terms of intervention and management of crises.79 Second, the role in peace-keeping and stability-building systems was accepted by the Alliance.80 Additionally, as a new phenomenon, the understanding of Partnership for Peace as a key concept was embraced by the Alliance so as to contribute to the notion that the security of the Allies is inseparable from the security of other European nations.

With the dawn of the 21st century, NATO started going through a transformation, with more members and new partnerships, missions of peacekeeping and promoting democracy, the Alliance is now in a different place in international security and politics. Enlargement became a priority, new members throughout Europe joined the Alliance, as the number of member states reached 28: Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in joined 2004, and Croatia and Albania joined in 2009.81 Following the 9/11 attacks, 5 Summits took place, all regarding NATO’s military capabilities: Prague Summit of 2002, Istanbul Summit of 2004, Riga Summit of 2006, Lisbon Summit of 2010, and Chicago Summit of 2012.82

During the Prague Summit of 2002, the Alliance headed for a transformation, updating NATO into the 21st century. They reaffirmed their commitments to each other on matters such as Iraq and fighting terrorism. They also initiated the NATO Response Force -a technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable and sustainable force including land, sea, and air elements ready to move quickly to wherever needed- and matters such as chemical and nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction were discussed on.83

In 2002, a partnership with Russia was founded in order to improve the relations, NATO-Russia Council was initiated in order to fight common security issues such as terrorism, crisis management, non-proliferation, arms control and confidence-building measures, theatre missile defence, logistics, military-to-military cooperation, defence reform and civil emergencies.84

The Istanbul Summit of 2004 took the progress of the Prague Summit a step further as to strengthening cooperation on fighting terrorism on every level, including intelligence sharing and improvement of technological capabilities to protect civilians from terrorist attacks. 85

NATO is transforming its military capabilities in order to adapt to the changing strategic environment. The new command structure, the NATO Response Force, and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Deference battalion are progressing. Together, they give NATO much stronger and faster military capabilities.” (NATO, 2004) 86

In the Riga Summit of 2006 the Alliance reaffirmed their duties in Afghanistan and their commitment to the reformation and modernization of NATO.87 At the 2010 Lisbon Summit in Portugal, the Alliance introduced a “New Strategic Concept” which is meant to serve as the Alliance’s road map for the next 10 years.88 In addition a new Missile Defence system was approved in order to protect European cities from missile attacks.89

In 2012 during the Washington Summit, the Alliance discussed more than issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq, but Middle East and Syria crisis, cyber defence, energy security, fight against terrorism, deterrence and defence capabilities, conventional arms control, and NATO reform.90 “Smart Defence” lies at the heart of the new approach of collective defence as it is stated in the Article 7 of “Summit Declaration on Defence Capabilities: Toward NATO Forces 2020”. The term acknowledges that although development and deployment of defence capabilities are primarily national tasks, certain capabilities are agreed to be possible only with the cooperation of many Allies working together.91



III. Structure of the Organization

The Alliance is governed by the North Atlantic Council, which meets at different levels and chaired by the Secretary General.92 The Secretary General of NATO is responsible for leading and ensuring the decision making processes and is the head of the International Staff and the chief spokesperson.93

The North Atlantic Council meets every week in a permanent representative level; twice a year at a foreign ministers level; three times a year at a defence minister level and on some occasions where a summit takes place, on a head of state level.94 The Council is the only body established by the North Atlantic Treaty; it has the authority and power of decision on any political or military process and can initiate subsidiary bodies.95

Article 9: The Parties hereby establish a council, on which each of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty.” (North Atlantic Treaty, 1949)

The North Atlantic Council –one of the most specific aspects of the organ- adopts documents unanimously, as a result, a policy accepted by the Council will reflect the will of all its sovereign member states.96 The organization has two official languages, French and English. The headquarters of NATO sits in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO currently has 16 members who joined the Alliance over the past 60 years, expanding more than twice its size since its initiation in Washington: Apart from the 28 members NATO has, there are 22 additional countries that participate in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs such as the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean Dialogue.97



IV. Smart Defence

Introduced in the Washington Summit of 2012, smart defence is a concept integrating the unforeseeable nature of modern conflicts with the world economic crisis in order to rebalance the costs of a conflict equitably between the US and European countries.98 From missile defence to intelligence; mostly everything is included in the Smart Defence system which has three pillars: prioritization, specialization and cooperation. Prioritization is keeping national priorities in line with NATO’s priorities in a less-costly way. Specialization is nations, concentrating on their strengths and act in alliance with NATO when it comes to defence budgeting. Cooperation can be strategic, geographic, but in basic means acting together economically, when one’s economy is not able to provide. 99

The Smart Defence plan was the first of many planned initiatives to provide the economic needs of NATO as the defence of the Alliance gets costlier.

V. Relations and Partnership with Russia

It is mentioned above that in 2002 the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was founded, however the relations between the Alliance and the Russian Federation dates back to 1997.100 An act was signed, founding mutual relations, cooperation and security between them was signed in Paris, France.101

NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.” (FOUNDING ACT ON MUTUAL RELATIONS, 1997)

In addition to this, Permanent Joint Council (PJC) was founded, in order to increase Russian cooperation and mutual dialogue.102 Although the relations got tense during the Kosovo crisis in 1999, where Russia proposed a resolution to the Security Council right after NATO started bombing Yugoslavia –a draft resolution demanding immediate ceasefire which failed 3 votes in favour, 12 against103– in 2002 the parties gathered in Italy and founded the NATO-Russia Council.104 The change is attributed to the September 11 attacks, as in 2001, both parties announced their support for the US as it wages war on terror.105 The NATO-Russia Council had many aspects that made it different from the Permanent Joint Council. The NRC was to be chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and Russia was deemed equal as NATO members whereas in the PJC had a NATO +1 structure.106 Furthermore, the number of the issues NRC and joint committees addressed was more than what was under the scope of the PJC; therefore formation of NRC in such a way extended the cooperation between the parties.107 The most significant key areas of the partnership with Russia are: support for ISAF and Afghan armed forces, combating terrorism, cooperative airspace initiative, missile defence, non-proliferation and arms control, nuclear matters, countering piracy and defence transparency, strategy and reform.108

In 2008 the diplomatic relations and the activities of the NRC were halted because of Russia’s ongoing military action in Georgia.109 The relations were restarted a year later.110 In 2010 during the Lisbon Summit the NRC leaders reaffirmed their cooperation by stating they intend to “work towards achieving a true strategic and modernized partnership”.111

VI. Collective Self-Defence Mechanism through Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno!” (One for all, all for one)

Alexandre Dumas ‘The Three Musketeers’

Article 5 of the NAT is the legal grounds of the collective defence principle behind NATO. In the most basic sense, an attack against one will be considered an attack against all. As mentioned above, this clause was invoked only once, it was by the US, following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The interpretation of the Article 5 was made rather widely, incorporating large scale terrorist attacks to its scope.112 The exact scope of the Article is quite unclear from its wording, for example debate has been going on whether a cyber attack or energy cuts can be included. Although these can be examined under Article 4 –security consultation- the question remains if collaborative action can be made under Article 5 in the face of these modern challenges.113

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated in a press briefing that invoking Article 5 in the face of any modern attack, such as a cyber attack, will be left to the Allies, depending on the situation. However, he stated that the NAT mechanism would work more efficiently if it is initially examined under Article 4, and then if the Allies see fit, Article 5. He explained this flexibility as: “I mean there is what I would call a 'constructive ambiguity' as regard the use of Article 5. And that's exactly the strength of Article 5 that potential aggressors never know when the Alliance will invoke Article 5.” 114

Article 5: 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.” (North Atlantic Treaty, 1949)

VII. NATO and Afghanistan

NATO’s presence in Afghanistan dates back to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 when passenger aircrafts were kidnapped and crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York and Pentagon in Washington115 leaving nearly 3.000 dead.116 In the immediate aftermath of the attacks -October 2001- a US-led operation in Afghanistan began against the responsible terrorist group al Qaida and the Taliban regime which supported them.117

In December 2001, a conference in Bonn was gathered with the attendance of the Afghan opposition.118 During the Bonn Conference it was decided that in order to rebuild Afghanistan with international cooperation a UN-mandated international force had to be present and in consequence International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was created,119 its mandate was limited to the security of Kabul.120 Meanwhile the Taliban were forced out of power, yet the fighting went on and more ISAF troops were deployed.121 In 2003, NATO was given control over the ISAF troops, and the mandate of ISAF was extended and changed from just protecting in and around Kabul to the entire country.122 Over the course of three years ISAF troops took control over the entirety of Afghanistan taking command in the east from a US-led coalition force.123 In 2009, the number of troops led by NATO in Afghanistan peaked with numbers estimated around 150.000.124 The search for the leader of al Qaida, Osama Bin Laden was pursued by the US all throughout the operations in Afghanistan until 2011, when he was found and killed by US forces in Pakistan.125 Following this and the successes of other operations in Afghanistan, troops are slowly being pulled back,126 although full withdrawal is due December 2014.127

Even though ISAF forces have been lead by NATO for the last 10 years, they consist of soldiers from 50 nations –as of 2012- in addition to the 28 members of the Alliance, a proof of the wide-spread support for the operation.128

..Afghanistan will one day stand on its own, but it will not be standing alone.”

(Rasmussen, 2011)129

VIII. Relationship between NATO and the UN Security Council: The UN Charter and the North Atlantic Treaty

NATO and the United Nations (UN) are dependent on each other on the matter of maintaining international peace and security.130 The two organizations have been cooperating in this area since 1990s.131 Relations between the United Nations and the Alliance enhanced in 1992 in order to encounter the conflict occurred in Western Balkans where a practical cooperation in the field was needed. From that day on NATO and the UN has cooperated in the field operations in the framework of different aspects of the conflicts such as in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.132

The collaboration between NATO and the UN and its agencies, is a significant factor in order to provide an international “Comprehensive Approach” to crisis management and operations.133 Within this regard, NATO is involved in with various efforts of the UN bodies in order to challenge with the matters of terrorism; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery; promoting the rights and role of women in conflict; protecting children affected by armed conflict.134

Such cooperation is also set forth in the legal documents of the two organizations.135 NATO’S legal basis was created by the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 by fifty nations, which at the time recognized the overall responsibility of the UN Security Council on the matters of international peace and security.136 Correspondingly, the preambles of North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington on 4 April 1949, state that the UN Charter’s scope covers the functions of Alliance.137 In particular, in the Treaty, it was undertaken that the signatories to agree upon their reliance on the UN Charter.138

Along with the Article 1 of the Treaty which expresses clearly that; “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.”;139 Article 5 of the Treaty, which encompasses the collective self defence mechanism of NATO, refers to the Article 51 of the UN Charter in order to specify the rights of the Allies to take individual actions and the role of UN Security Council in the case of an armed attack.140 Further reference is made in the Treaty in Article 7 which indicates that;

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.”141

Lastly, the Article 12 indicates the reviewing of the Treaty after ten years or if requested, considering the new developments on the matter of peace and security and in the light of UN Charter.142

On 23 September 2008, a Joint Declaration on UN-NATO Cooperation was established which was signed by both Secretaries-General of the organizations.143 The declaration is seen as a significant development in the UN-NATO relationship which encompasses five crucial points providing “a framework for expanded consultation and cooperation” between the organizations’ secretariats.144

Despite all the interferences of cooperation, political arguments remain on the matter of relations between the UN and NATO.145 It is claimed that some of the UN Member States consider that NATO is faithful to USA.146 Being the organization created by Central European countries and USA itself, NATO submits to the UN Security Council in which Russian Federation and China have veto power.147 In a cooperation which is included in the legal documents of the organizations, such issues make the matter worth to mention. Moreover, NATO’s primary mission which includes collective self defence is seen as a threat to the international peace and security which the UN is struggling for from the very beginning of its foundation.148

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