- Formed in 1949 with the signing of the Washington Treaty, NATO is a security alliance of 30 countries from North America and Europe.
- Established in the Cold War as a bulwark against Soviet aggression, NATO’s fundamental goal is to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.
- Article 5 of the Washington Treaty states that an attack against one Ally is an attack against all — is at the core of the Alliance, a promise of collective defence.
- Article 4 of the treaty ensures consultations among Allies on security matters of common interest, which have expanded from a narrowly defined Soviet threat to the critical mission in Afghanistan, as well as new threats to security such as cyber attacks, and global threats such as terrorism and piracy that affect the Alliance and its global network of partners.
- A “NATO decision” is the expression of the collective will of all 30 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus.
- At present, NATO has 30 members. In 1949, there were 12 founding members of the Alliance: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020).
- NATO’s Headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
Why in News?
- Finland’s President and Prime Minister has said that they’re in favour of applying for NATO membership, paving the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
- The announcement means Finland is virtually certain to seek NATO membership though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in the coming days.