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What is NATO

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The most important actors in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are the member states themselves.

Currently there are 30 Members.

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  • Albania (2009)
  • Belgium (1949)
  • Bulgaria (2004)
  • Denmark (1949)
  • Germany (1955)
  • Estonia (2004)
  • France (1949)
  • Greece (1952)
  • Iceland (1949)
  • Italy (1949)
  • Canada (1949)
  • Croatia (2009)
  • Latvia (2004)
  • Lithuania (2004)
  • Luxembourg (1949)
  • Montenegro (2017)
  • Netherlands (1949)
  • North Macedonia (2020)
  • Norway (1949)
  • Poland (1999)
  • Portugal (1949)
  • Romania (2004)
  • Slovakia (2004)
  • Slovenia (2004)
  • Spain (1982)
  • Czech Republic (1999)
  • Turkey (1952)
  • Hungary (1999)
  • United States (1949)
  • United Kingdom (1949)
  • Belgium (1949)
  • Denmark (1949)
  • France (1949)
  • Iceland (1949)
  • Italy (1949)
  • Canada (1949)
  • Luxembourg (1949)
  • Netherlands (1949)
  • Norway (1949)
  • Portugal (1949)
  • United States (1949)
  • United Kingdom (1949)
  • Greece (1952)
  • Turkey (1952)
  • Germany (1955)
  • Spain (1982)
  • Poland (1999)
  • Czech Republic (1999)
  • Hungary (1999)
  • Bulgaria (2004)
  • Estonia (2004)
  • Latvia (2004)
  • Lithuania (2004)
  • Romania (2004)
  • Slovakia (2004)
  • Slovenia (2004)
  • Albania (2009)
  • Croatia (2009)
  • Montenegro (2017)
  • North Macedonia (2020)

NATO expansion

NATO membership is open to "any other European country capable of promoting the principles of this treaty and contributing to the security of the North Atlantic area."

NATO also has a so-called Membership Action Plan. This helps potential members prepare for membership and meet the essential requirements by providing practical advice and targeted support.

2 basics

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2.1 A political and military alliance

Safety in our everyday life is essential to our wellbeing. The purpose of NATO is to use political and military means to guarantee the freedom and security of its members.

POLITICALLY - NATO promotes democratic values ​​and enables its members to consult and cooperate on defense and security issues in order to solve problems, build trust and avoid long-term conflicts.

MILITARY - NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts. But when diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to conduct crisis management operations. These take place within the framework of the assistance clause in the founding treaty of NATO - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty - or with a mandate from the United Nations, either alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

2.2 Collective self-defense

NATO is committed to the principle that an attack against one or more of its members is an attack against all. This is the principle of collective self-defense set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

So far, Article 5 has only been used once - in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

2.3 The transatlantic connection

NATO is an alliance of European and North American countries. It uniquely connects these two continents, enabling them to consult and collaborate on defense and security issues and to jointly conduct multinational crisis management operations.

2.4 The strategic concept 2010

Strategic concepts record the core tasks and principles of the alliance, its values ​​and the development of the security environment as well as the strategic goals of the alliance for the next 10 years. The 2010 strategic concept defines the following core tasks for NATO: collective self-defense, crisis management and cooperative security.

3 activities

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3.1 Resolutions and deliberations

Every day the members consult and make decisions on security issues at all levels and in numerous areas.

A "NATO decision" is the expression of the collective will of all 30 member states, since all decisions are made based on consensus.

Hundreds of officials as well as civil and military experts come to NATO headquarters every day, exchanging information, sharing ideas and, if necessary, helping to prepare decisions in cooperation with national representations and staff at NATO headquarters.

3.2 Operations and missions

  • Afghanistan Kosovo
  • Securing the Mediterranean
  • Support to the African Union

NATO takes an active role in a wide range of crisis management operations and missions, including civil emergencies.

NATO's crisis management operations are conducted under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a mandate from the United Nations.

Forty third countries work with NATO on a wide range of political and security issues. These states seek dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO, and many of them contribute to NATO-led operations and assignments. In addition, NATO cooperates with a broad network of international organizations.

Partner states do not have the same decision-making powers as member states.

Learn more
on the partnerships of NATO

3.4 Developing means of responding to threats

NATO is constantly renewing and adapting to ensure that its policies, resources and structures can meet current and future threats and ensure the collective self-defense of its members.

4 Major Events

NATO develops partnerships with former adversaries after the breakup
the Soviet Union.

Serious terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.

For the very first time, NATO is applying Article 5 and will be pursuing a broader security concept in the future.

NATO adopts 2010 strategic concept "Active engagement, modern defense"

Go to "Behind the Scenes of NATO"

5 working structures

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  • Each member state has a permanent representation at NATO's political headquarters in Brussels. Each representation is led by an “ambassador” who represents his / her government in the advisory and decision-making process of the Alliance.

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  • The nuclear planning group

    The Nuclear Planning Group has the same powers as the North Atlantic Council on nuclear policy issues.

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  • The North Atlantic Council: the heart of NATO

    The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is NATO's main political decision-making body. Each member state has a seat in the NAC.
    It meets at least once a week or, if necessary, at different levels. It is chaired by the Secretary General, who helps members to come to an agreement on important issues.

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  • Subordinate institutions

    NATO has a network of institutions to deal with anything on its agenda, from political to more technical issues. National representatives and experts from all NATO member states meet here on a regular basis.

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  • NATO agencies and organizations make a significant contribution to the joint provision and maintenance of resources. They specialize in technical areas that complement and form an integral part of the NATO agenda: procurement, support and communication and information.

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  • The Secretary General is the Alliance's highest international official. He is responsible for steering the consultations and decision-making in the alliance and ensures that the decisions made are implemented. The Secretary General also represents NATO in public and heads the organization's international staff, which provides advice, guidance and administrative support to the national missions at NATO headquarters.

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  • Military organization and structure

    If the implementation of political decisions has military effects, the following actors are mainly involved: the military committee, which is composed of the chiefs of staff of the NATO member states, the international military staff, the executive body of the military committee, and the military command structure, consisting of the allied command of operations and the Allied Command for Remodeling Issues.

    NATO has few of its own permanently available armed forces. If the North Atlantic Council decides on a military operation, the members provide armed forces on a voluntary basis. These armed forces will return to their country once the mission is complete.

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