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NATO Strategic Concept

April 1999

This document outlines the agreement which transformed the role of NATO and the rules under which it operates

This document is a masterpiece of verbosity, extending to 65 sections and 17 pages.

What is important from a treaty point of view is the radical changes from the original treaty expressed here, maybe not first enunciated here but buried within it and of great significance, mainly "non article 5" actions. This is code for not acting for defence and therefore not acting within the United Nations Charter rules ie illegally under international law.

Please see the NATO page for explanations.

Key paragraphs in the NATO Strategic Concept  text

Conflict Prevention And Crisis Management
31. In pursuit of its policy of preserving peace, preventing war, and enhancing security and stability and as set out in the fundamental security tasks, NATO will seek, in cooperation with other organisations, to prevent conflict, or, should a crisis arise, to contribute to its effective management, consistent with international law, including through the possibility of conducting non-Article 5 crisis response operations.


Part IV - Guidelines for the Alliance's Forces Principles Of Alliance Strategy
41. The Alliance will maintain the necessary military capabilities to accomplish the full range of NATO's missions. . .

    They must also be prepared to contribute to conflict prevention and to conduct non-Article 5 crisis response operations. 


43. The principle of collective effort in Alliance defence is embodied in practical arrangements that enable the Allies to enjoy the crucial political, military and resource advantages of collective defence, and prevent the renationalisation of defence policies, without depriving the Allies of their sovereignty. These arrangements also enable NATO's forces to carry out non-Article 5 crisis response operations and constitute a prerequisite for a coherent Alliance response to all possible contingencies. 


45. The Alliance supports the further development of the ESDI within the Alliance, including by being prepared to make available assets and capabilities for operations under the political control and strategic direction either of the WEU or as otherwise agreed. 


48. The maintenance of the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area is of key importance. An important aim of the Alliance and its forces is to keep risks at a distance by dealing with potential crises at an early stage. In the event of crises which jeopardise Euro-Atlantic stability and could affect the security of Alliance members, the Alliance's military forces may be called upon to conduct crisis response operations. They may also be called upon to contribute to the preservation of international peace and security by conducting operations in support of other international organisations, complementing and reinforcing political actions within a broad approach to security.
49. In contributing to the management of crises through military operations, the Alliance's forces will have to deal with a complex and diverse range of actors, risks, situations and demands, including humanitarian emergencies. Some non-Article 5 crisis response operations may be as demanding as some collective defence missions. 


52. The size, readiness, availability and deployment of the Alliance's military forces will reflect its commitment to collective defence and to conduct crisis response operations, sometimes at short notice, distant from their home stations, including beyond the Allies' territory.  [Could mean anywhere in the world.]


 [Not just defence]

55. Alliance forces will be structured to reflect the multinational and joint nature of Alliance missions. Essential tasks will include controlling, protecting, and defending territory; ensuring the unimpeded use of sea, air, and land lines of communication; sea control and protecting the deployment of the Alliance's sea-based deterrent; conducting independent and combined air operations; ensuring a secure air environment and effective extended air defence; surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance and electronic warfare; strategic lift; and providing effective and flexible command and control facilities, including deployable combined and joint headquarters.

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