The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the principal political decision-making body within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It brings together high-level representatives of each member country to discuss policy or operational questions requiring collective decisions and provides a forum for wide-ranging consultation between members on all issues affecting their peace and security.
The Question of NATO Expansion – A Review of the Alliance’s Global Partnerships:
When NATO was formed in 1949, the primary purpose of the Alliance was to provide protection for member states in the event of an attack by a foreign country or power, and to combat the influence and threat of the Soviet Union in Europe.
However, following the dissolving of the Soviet Union in1991, the Alliance must now continue to look toward the future and adapting itself towards the new millennium. Despite membership within NATO having now expanded itself to a total of 28 independent states, a series of questions still remain as NATO continues onward into the 21st century- should NATO continue expanding its numbers? Should any reforms to the selection criteria be considered in order to make military assistance and strengthened security accessible to all aspiring member states, particularly toward those within the former Soviet Bloc? The incorporation of countries formerly in the Eastern Bloc has been a cause of increased tension between NATO countries and Russia, and overall NATO expansion is a topic of hot debate amongst member and non-member states alike.
On a similar vein, NATO currently has a variety of relations with countries outside of NATO which are interested in enhanced cooperation with the Alliance – from the Pacific to the South Atlantic, as the nature of security threats the world over continues to evolve. It seems as if more countries want to work with the world’s foremost military alliance to leverage their capabilities and expertise. Delegates are tasked not only to debate NATO’s willingness to not only accept more members into the bloc, accounting for many factors; but to also discuss whether the aforementioned partnerships are something NATO should examine now, and whether they should improve on them and how best to do so.
NATO and Emerging Threats in the 21st Century: Hybrid Warfare:
When NATO was founded more than 60 years ago, its main purpose was to protect the territory and integrity of her member states from the threats, conventional or otherwise, posed by largely the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. As the Cold War progressed, and the Alliance expanded, so too did the threat it had to face change in terms of form and complexity and so it had to adapt its role to compensate, and adapt it did.
As the 20th Century reached a close, with the fall of the Wall, the Alliance has seen many changes, both internal by way of accepting former communist states among other things; and external, by way of the roles it took on and continues to take on in the new millennium. Ranging from training and stabilisation operations, to counter terrorism and counter piracy, NATO’s mission has changed drastically over the decades.
With this in mind, it seems as if the Alliance is being challenged once more by a new threat, popularly dubbed “hybrid warfare” among other names. It combines elements of regular, irregular, and cyber- warfare. It has become a method of war that has had many talking about it: some say this led to tampering in both the UK exit referendum and the US elections; others suspect their democratic processes as well as their integrity as nation-states are being undermined with via this method too, both inside and out of NATO.
As nations struggle to find a way to tackle this new and quickly emerging threat, the Alliance must come together once more to create ways to counter this new form of waging war from suspected state and non-state actors. Owing to its novelty and complexity, delegates must adopt innovative means to fight it; notwithstanding current capabilities and efforts to do so.
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