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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

International organization refers to an institution that draws its membership from at least three states. The organization has its activities carried out in different states, and a formal agreement brings its members together. These organizations serve diverse functions such as monitoring trends, offering bargaining forums, and offering aid. The international organizations meet a common objective that fosters cooperation and togetherness. Additionally, they help individual member states where they are used as foreign policy instruments in legitimizing their actions and constraining the behaviors of others.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was developed by the North Atlantic Treaty of 4th April 1949. NATO alliance comprises 30 states bordering the North Atlantic Ocean (Kaplan, 2019). The treaty aimed at establishing a counteraction to Soviet armies positioned in central and eastern regions of Europe after the Second World War. Western Europe experienced economic exhaustion after the Second World War in 1945. Additionally, the solid communist formations had evolved in France and Italy. The armies of the Soviet Union, on the other side, had dominated all the states in central and eastern regions of Europe. By 1948 communists had gathered their governments’ control suppressing the political activity of all non-communist (Kaplan, 2019). Further, there was a complete breakdown of wartime cooperation between the Soviets and the western Allies. Each side was working to organize its sector of occupied Germany to ensure the emergence of two states; a democratic state on the western and a communist on the eastern.

In 1948, the US launched the Marshall Plan, offering extensive aid to the western and southern Europe countries. The assistance was accorded to cooperating with each other to quicken the mutual recovery. Under the 1948 Brussels Treaty, a collective defense agreement was established, referred to as the Western European Union (Kaplan, 2019). The union later realized the need for a stronger alliance that would offer a military counterweight to the Soviets. The US, Britain, and Canada had engaged in secret discussions to arrange security matters that would serve as the United Nations alternative since the rapid Cold War was paralyzing it. In March 1948, the US, Britain, and Canadian governments established a multilateral collective scheme to help in promoting democratic values and western security. The Low Countries, Norway, and France later joined these discussions resulting in the emergence of the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949 in Washington DC (Kaplan, 2019). The new Allies agreed that an armed attack among any member should be regarded as an attack against them. Therefore, each Ally is to take appropriate measures to defend each other, including applying armed force. NATO’s heart is expressed in Article 5 of the treaty with agreements from all its members.

NATO’s functioning

The overall idea of NATO revolves around the collective security concept. After the Second World War, the Soviet Union was perceived as a common threat to the freedom and democracy principles that western Europe, the US, and Canada stood for. Therefore the main aim of creating NATO was to ensure the Soviet Union’s threats were countered. The legitimacy and authority of the treaty are derived from Article 52 of the UNs charter, which affirms the right of countries to individually and cooperatively defend themselves (Garelli &Tazzioli 2018). Every member state assumes the risks, roles, treaties’ terms, and benefits of the overall defense provided by the organization. NATO states that members form a unique community with common values such as human rights, the rule of law, promotion of democracy, and enhancement of individual liberty. Since its formation, the organization contains minimal forces and therefore depends on the operation of every member country. However, it plays an integral role in the direction and correlation of the member countries’ forces. The organization is involved in pointing out common enemies. Additionally, it activates the reciprocity clause is asking its allies for a defensive action from the outside forces. Therefore, it enforces Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which focuses on upholding the collective defense principle.

The organization serves as a military and political alliance among its member states. It aims at promoting democracy, allowing countries to enhance cooperation and consultation on matters relating to security and defense. This helps in building trust and preventing potential conflicts. Additionally, the organization aims at resolving disputes. However, in case of failure in diplomatic efforts, NATO employs military effort in undertaking crisis0-management operations.


The organization consists of thirty independent member countries. They all serve a common objective directed by similar values. Twelve member countries founded the organization in 1949. They include the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Norway, France, Canada, Luxembourg, Belgium, Iceland, and Italy. In the 1950s, as the Cold War loomed, Turkey, West Germany, and Greece became part of the organization. In 1982, Spain joined the organization, while East Germany assumed its membership by default in 1990 after reunification (Gheciu, 2019). The Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary later become part of the organization. In 2004, there was an expansion of membership after other countries joined. They include Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovenia, and Slovakia. This increased the number of member countries in NATO. In 2009, Croatia and Albania joined the organization. North Macedonia is the most recent country to join NATO, where it officially became a member in 2020.

The organization has 4200 staff, with the headquarters of the member country embassies located on the outskirts of Brussels. Since the invasion of Russia by Ukraine in February 2022, the Finnish government has been debating joining NATO. Although the Finnish parliament has not come to a consensus, there are high chances of joining the organization since the majority favor the debate. The move by the Finnish government occurred after Finland realized that Russia could be a threat to their security (Güleç, 2021). Therefore, they aim to join the organization to secure their peace and gain military backup if a threat is realized. Finland met with NATO members to lay down practical steps toward becoming part of the organization. The door for membership to join NATO is always open if the country meets the membership criteria. Any country willing to join NATO must be located in the European continent with a democratic form of governance. Additionally, the government must be ready and willing to contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.

NATO’s operations and processes

The organization has been involved in various operations and processes. NATO has diversified and increased its operations since its first peace-support engagement in the early 1990s (Gheciu, 2019). The organization has been involved in missions covering the overall crisis management spectrum, offering training, logistic support, and relief and surveillance. NATO has deployed military personnel to operate in different parts of the globe.

NATO in Afghanistan

NATO has engaged in its operation in Afghanistan since 2001. The operation constitutes an alliance established by the United Nations referred to as International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which has its leadership housed by NATO since 2008 (Garelli & Tazzioli 2018). ISAF has comprised of troops gathered from fifty different nations who are deployed in Afghanistan. It aims to extend the Afghanistan central government authority to enhance an effective atmosphere in the operation of democratic institutions and the development of the rule of law. Apart from engaging in security operations, ISAF is involved in reconstructing Afghanistan and offering humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan.

Monitoring the Mediterranean Sea

NATO operations extend far beyond the conflict zones. After the 9/11 terror attack, NATO took steps in expanding the available options to counter international terrorism threats. The organization launched the maritime surveillance Operation Active Endeavor (OAE) to help fight global terrorism (Garelli & Tazzioli 2018). The OAE functions to detect and deter terrorist actions in the Mediterranean. NATO boards the suspect ship to help prevent any plans to accomplish terrorism missions. This has helped in safeguarding the maritime regions and counter-terrorism. Additionally, the collaboration and cooperation that has been effected through OAE have enhanced NATO’s capacities in its operations.

NATO support for the African Union

NATO operates beyond the Euro-Atlantic regions and supports the African Union in ensuring peace is maintained throughout the African continent. NATO has helped the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by offering support in the peacemaking mission. Additionally, NATO has been working with the African Union to identify other areas of collaboration supporting the African Standby Force.

NATO and Iraq security

At the 2018 Brussels Summit, the allies launched the NATO Mission-Iraq (NM-I). Approximately five hundred personnel engage in NM-I to train and offer advice to the defense institutions and Iraq security. The NM-I supports the Iraq security sector reform by providing advice and training to instructors to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the national forces. The NM-I helps train Iraq forces in areas of countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED) and maintaining the equipment that dates back to the Soviet period (Kiratli, 2020). It also helps develop facilities that are specialized for training in the military.

World politics

NATO serves as the central element in the multi and bilateral alliances network of the free democratic world. The member countries form one of the most advanced and robust industrial regions. The US is the most solid and vital power in the Atlantic alliance system. The organization plays a significant role in world politics by guaranteeing freedom and security through political and military means. The world is a global village, and NATO has helped reach different corners of the world with the mission of restoring peace and sanity in the system. The organization serves in promoting democratic values and allowing member countries to consult and cooperate on issues related to security and defense (Gheciu, 2019). This is key in solving problems that face the global arena, building trust, and preventing conflict in the long run. NATO has a shared commitment with the United Nations to maintain security and international peace. The organization’s open-door policy serves as an effective global tool for democratic change, reforms in economic matters, and military capability improvements.


Threats from Russia

NATO is directly facing challenges and threats from the Russian government both politically and militarily. The current invasion of Ukraine in Russia has challenged European security, causing significant instability in the global space. There is continued growth in the global uncertainties and disruption, and exponential changes in technology. NATO has been left indecisive and threatened amid the crisis. The crisis has resulted in a major threat in the Middle East and Africa which has been deteriorated by major factors that cause deaths and energy crisis. NATO is challenged in protecting and defending allied territory and populations against the attack.


This has served as a major challenge for NATO since not all member states meet the two percent target from the national gross domestic product for the alliance’s defense spending. Different militaries, such as the French, are thinly stretched by budgetary pressures limiting their capacity to meet the military demands. Additionally, inadequate funding limits the organization from performing effective operations since they are hard-pressed in meeting the rotational requirements in a war mission.

Inequalities among member nations

NATO is faced with inequalities among the member countries. The organization’s future is threatened by the failure of some countries, such as Germany, to take a larger share of the burden faced in security reinforcement. Complaints exist where countries like the US and Britain take a major role in the overall mission.

NATO funding

NATO receives its funding through both direct and indirect means. The indirect funding serves as the most significant contributor and results from members committing themselves to a military operation and bearing the costs of the decision. The organization’s budget and programs are funded by direct contributions from the member state and serve the interest of all the countries. The 30 countries fund the budget based on an agreed cost-sharing approach determined by the country’s Gross National Income (Kiratli, 2020). This represents a portion of the defense budget of the member country. Specific funding arrangements are used to finance NATO’s central budgets, including military and civil budgets. Additionally, the NATO security investment program is funded through common arrangements. The NATO budget is run through a solid governance and oversight approach where the members agree on the eligibility of certain programs and the amount to be spent on a project (Kiratli, 2020). The North Atlantic Council oversees the funding process operated by the planning and resource policy board. The Budget and investment committees help in the budget implementation.

NATO’s will expression

NATO makes all its decision through a consensus where members discuss and discuss among themselves. NATO has accepted this fundamental principle of consensus decision-making since the creation of the organization in 1949 (Güleç, 2021). NATO does not involve voting to reach an agreement and therefore chooses consensus decision-making. The members consult amongst themselves until they come to a solid and sound decision. Sometimes, the member nations agree to disagree. The negotiation process is often rapid since there is regular consultation among the member countries, and therefore the position of each other is known and understood in advance. The secretary-general helps to facilitate the process of consensus decision-making and consultation (Güleç, 2021). Therefore this process is applied at all committee levels implying that the member nations make collective decisions. When NATO announces a decision, it represents the will of all the countries that form the alliance.

Politics involved in NATO functioning

Various politics have been involved in the functioning of NATO. There have been issues in managing NATO’s role in the Western Balkans. In 2018, the Pristina government adopted legislation of transforming the security force of Kosovo to become a regular army (Garelli & Tazzioli 2018). However, there were concerns from NATO that the move was to create unnecessary tension among the neighbors. Additionally, there has existed politics in offering non-combat training and capacity building to the Iraq forces.

NATO’s future

The organization remains the globe’s foremost military alliance. It has effectively demonstrated its capacity to collaborate and work together for a common objective. The members continue to share similar values and ideologies that aim at enhancing security and cohesion within their borders. Although it has faced significant threats from different opposition governments such as Russia, NATO has remained relevant, which indicates a positive future. In most cases, alliances fail to hold in the way of solid and independent countries. However, NATO has precisely existed in enhancing the growth and freedom of their sovereign nations (Garelli & Tazzioli 2018). NATO has expanded primarily to the East to widen and make free markets and democracy firm. The organization demonstrates its capability to manage domestic, regional, and international political tensions. This is key to enhancing democracy and the promotion of military and economic reforms.

The effective collaboration in political, economic, and military aspects will help NATPO thrive amid existing challenges. Therefore it has a secure future when cooperation and collaboration are enhanced. The members need to strengthen military conventions and enhance asymmetric capacities effectively. NATO’s future survival prospects are anchored on the members’ ability to maintain its relevance amidst the major threats.


NATO was established with the mission of countering threats in the member countries. The main aim of its establishment was to ensure the Soviet Union’s threats were countered. The legitimacy and authority of the treaty are derived from Article 52 of the UNs charter, which affirms the right of countries to individually and cooperatively defend themselves. The organization has done much in promoting democracy and enhancing security in Europe. The organization has been involved in missions covering the overall crisis management spectrum, offering training and logistic support, and offering relief and surveillance. NATO serves in promoting democratic values and allowing member countries to consult and cooperate on issues related to security and defense. Although NATO has played a significant role in promoting overall cohesion and security, it has faced significant threats and challenges while aiming to meet its set mandates. Funding has been a significant challenge in NATO based on inequalities in the member states. Direct and indirect approaches are applied in funding the missions and operations of NATO. The NATO budget is run through solid governance and oversight approach where the members agree on the eligibility of certain programs and the amount to be spent on a mission. NATO remains the globe’s foremost military alliance. It has effectively demonstrated its capacity to collaborate for a common cause. The organization’s future lies in the hands of the members to continue sharing values and ideologies that aim to enhance security and cohesion in the member countries and beyond.


Kaplan, L. S. (2019). Origins of NATO: 1948-1949. Emory Int’l L. Rev.34, 11.

Garelli, G., & Tazzioli, M. (2018). The biopolitical warfare on migrants: EU Naval Force and NATO operations of migration government in the Mediterranean. Critical Military Studies4(2), 181-200.

Gheciu, A. (2019). NATO, liberal internationalism, and the politics of imagining the Western security community. International Journal74(1), 32-46.

Kiratli, O. S. (2020). Together or not? Dynamics of public attitudes on UN and NATO. Political Studies, 0032321720956326.

Güleç, C. (2021). NATO and public diplomacy: Opportunities and constraints of 21st century. Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs26(1), 100-120.


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