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North Atlantic Treaty
North Atlantic Treaty authentication page
Type Military Alliance
Signed 4 April 1949
Location Washington, D.C.
Effective 24 August 1949
Condition Ratification by Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States and by a majority of the other signatory states.
Depositary Government of the United States of America
Languages French, English
North Atlantic Treaty at Wikisource

The North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949, is the treaty establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


The treaty was drafted by a committee in talks in Washington which was chaired by Theodore Achilles. Earlier secret talks had been held at the Pentagon between 22 March and 1 April 1948, of which Achilles said:

The talks lasted about two weeks and by the time they finished, it had been secretly agreed that there would be a treaty, and I had a draft of one in the bottom drawer of my safe. It was never shown to anyone except Jack. I wish I had kept it, but when I left the Department in 1950, I dutifully left it in the safe and I have never been able to trace it in the archives. It drew heavily on the Rio Treaty, and a bit of the Brussels Treaty, which had not yet been signed, but of which we were being kept heavily supplied with drafts. The eventual North Atlantic Treaty had the general form, and a good bit of the language of my first draft, but with a number of important differences.[1]

According to Achilles, another important author of the treaty was John D. Hickerson:

More than any human being Jack was responsible for the nature, content, and form of the Treaty...It was a one-man Hickerson treaty.[2]

The treaty was created with an armed attack by the Soviet Union against Western Europe in mind, but the mutual self-defense clause was never invoked during the Cold War. Rather, it was invoked for the first time in 2001 in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and The Pentagon in Operation Eagle Assist.

Original members

The original twelve nations that signed it and thus became the founding members of NATO were:

Map of NATO countries chronological membership.

  •  Belgium
  •  Canada
  •  Denmark
  •  France
  •  Iceland
  •  Italy
  •  Luxembourg
  •  Netherlands
  •  Norway
  •  Portugal
  •  United Kingdom
  • United States


The leaders of the countries who in Washington D.C. signed the agreement as plenipotentiaries were:[3]

  •  Belgium – Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak and Ambassador Baron Robert Silvercruys
  • Flag of Canada (1921–1957).svg Canada – Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson and Ambassador H. H. Wrong
  •  Denmark – Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen and Ambassador Henrik de Kauffmann
  •  France – Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and Ambassador Henri Bonnet
  •  Iceland – Foreign Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Ambassador Thor Thors
  •  Italy – Foreign Minister Carlo Sforza and Ambassador Alberto Tarchiani
  •  Luxembourg – Foreign Minister Joseph Bech and Ambassador Hugues Le Gallais
  •  Netherlands – Foreign Minister Dirk Stikker and Ambassador Eelco van Kleffens
  •  Norway – Foreign Minister Halvard M. Lange and Ambassador Wilhelm von Munthe af Morgenstierne
  •  Portugal – Foreign Minister José Caeiro da Mata and Ambassador Pedro Teotónio Pereira
  •  United Kingdom – Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and Ambassador Oliver Franks, Baron Franks
  •  United States – Secretary of State Dean Acheson

Later members

The following 16 nations joined the treaty after the 12 original countries:

  •  Greece (1952)
  •  Turkey (1952)
  •  West Germany (1955)
  •  Spain (1982)
  •  Czech Republic (1999)
  •  Hungary (1999)
  •  Poland (1999)
  •  Bulgaria (2004)
  •  Estonia (2004)
  •  Latvia (2004)
  •  Lithuania (2004)
  •  Romania (2004)
  •  Slovakia (2004)
  •  Slovenia (2004)
  •  Albania (2009)
  •  Croatia (2009)

When German reunification occurred in 1990, the country as a whole became a member of NATO.

During the April 2008 summit, Croatia and Albania were officially invited to join NATO. They both signed the treaty and officially joined NATO on 1 April 2009.

Article Five

The key section of the treaty was Article V. This committed each member state to consider an armed attack against one state to be an armed attack against all states. This article has only been invoked once in NATO history: by the United States after the September 11 attacks.

Article Four

The treaty also includes an article that does not trigger military intervention, but merely consultation over military matters. It has been invoked three times and each time by Turkey: Once in 2003 over the Second Persian Gulf War (Iraq War), once in June 2012 after the shooting down of a Turkish military jet and in October 2012 after Syrian attacks on Turkey and their counterattacks.

U.S. ratification

In the United States, the treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a vote of 82 to 13 on 21 July 1949.

See also


  3. Bevans, Charles Irving (1968). "North Atlantic Treaty". Treaties and other international agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949. Volume 4, Multilateral 1946-1949. Washington, D.C.: Department of State. p. 831. LCCN 70600742. OCLC 6940. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 

External links

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