29 Facts About NATO


NATO is a system of collective security: its independent member states agree to defend each other against attacks by third parties.

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NATO formed with twelve founding members, and has added new members eight times, most recently when North Macedonia joined the alliance in March 2020.

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NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members.

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North Atlantic Treaty was largely dormant until the Korean War initiated the establishment of NATO to implement it with an integrated military structure.

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In 1952, the post of Secretary General of NATO was established as the organization's chief civilian.

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At the 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO countries agreed on the creation of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, which deployed four multinational battalion-sized battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

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In March 2022, NATO leaders met at Brussels for an extraordinary summit which involved Group of Seven and European Union leaders.

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The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight.

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On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.

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Negotiations under US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO, which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999.

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US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the UN Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.

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The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.

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Alliance showed unity: on 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force, which included troops from 42 countries.

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NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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NATO has thirty members, mainly in Europe and North America.

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Three Nordic countries which joined NATO as founding members, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, chose to limit their participation in three areas: there would be no permanent peacetime bases, no nuclear warheads and no Allied military activity permitted on their territory.

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NATO currently has three candidate countries that are in the process of joining the alliance: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, and Sweden.

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On 21 February 2019, the Constitution of Ukraine was amended, the norms on the strategic course of Ukraine for membership in the European Union and NATO are enshrined in the preamble of the Basic Law, three articles and transitional provisions.

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At the June 2021 Brussels Summit, NATO leaders reiterated the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan as an integral part of the process and Ukraine's right to determine its own future and foreign policy course without outside interference.

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The treaty applies globally to specified territories whereas NATO is restricted under its Article 6 to operations north of the Tropic of Cancer.

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Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses its activities with numerous other non-NATO members.

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However, NATO declined membership, stating that only additional European countries could join according to Article 10 of NATO's founding treaty.

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Qatar and NATO have previously signed a security agreement together in January 2018.

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In 1998, NATO established a set of general guidelines that do not allow for a formal institutionalization of relations, but reflect the Allies' desire to increase cooperation.

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All agencies and organizations of NATO are integrated into either the civilian administrative or military executive roles.

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NATO Parliamentary Assembly is a body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO, which meets at two session per year.

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NATO is an alliance of 30 sovereign nations and their individual sovereignty is unaffected by participation in the alliance.

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NATO has no parliaments, no laws, no enforcement, and no power to punish individual citizens.

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NATO commanders expect obeisance but sometimes need to subordinate their desires or plans to the operators who are themselves subject to sovereign codes of conduct like the UCMJ.

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