Portugal is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Below you will find information about NATO's History, Mission, Structure, and the Portuguese contribution to this security organisation.
NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
The Atlantic Alliance was established in 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty, also known as the Washington Treaty. It is a political and military alliance whose main objective is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members.
Portugal is one of the 12 founding members of the Atlantic Alliance, along with the following States: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, United Kingdom and United States of America. Due to a number of additions – Greece and Türkiye in 1952; Germany in 1955; Spain in 1982; Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; and Montenegro in 2017 –, the Atlantic Alliance currently includes 29 Allies.
Political and Military Alliance
The political dimension of the Alliance derives from the promotion of fundamental values shared by the Allies (individual freedom, democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law), as well as the institutionalisation of mutual consultation and cooperation processes among the Allies in matters of defence and security.
In turn, the collective defence, whose legitimacy is recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, represents the military dimension. The Alliance is committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, but in the event of a failure of diplomatic efforts, the Alliance has the capacity to assemble the military means to carry out crisis management operations under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (collective defence clause) or under a mandate from the United Nations Security Council, either by itself or in cooperation with other international organisations or partner countries.
The current Strategic Concept (Active Engagement, Modern Defence) was adopted at the Lisbon Summit (2010) and defines the three main responsibilities of the Alliance: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.
According to the principle of collective defence, enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, an attack on one or more Allies is considered an attack against all members of the Alliance. So far, this article has been invoked only once, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which resulted in Operation ISAF, in Afghanistan.
In terms of crisis management, whether political, military or humanitarian, the Alliance has developed the ability to intervene in any type of situation, from those resulting from armed conflicts to those caused by natural or technological disasters.
Cooperative security is based on the projection of stability beyond the territory of the Allies through cooperation with other international organisations (e.g. UN, EU, OSCE, AU) and with different partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic region, the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, and others.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is the structure that allows the Atlantic Alliance to pursue its objectives, and its Headquarters are located in Brussels.
The main body of NATO's political structure is the North Atlantic Council, which is composed of a representative from each Ally. The Council meets in different configurations: Permanent Representative/Ambassador, Minister (Foreign Affairs or Defence) and Head of State or Government. Chaired by the Secretary-General, the Council decides by consensus.
NATO's military structure consists of the Military Committee, located at the Headquarters in Brussels, and two strategic commands: the Allied Command Operations, based in Mons (Belgium), and the Allied Command Transformation, based in Norfolk, Virginia (USA).
In Portugal, NATO is present through JALLC (Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre, located in Lisbon, and the command of STRIKFORNATO (Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, located in Oeiras. This presence will soon be strengthened by the establishment of NATO's Communications and Information Systems School (NCISS).
NATO's cooperation with the European Union
The development of the NATO-EU cooperation has become increasingly important, as it contributes to the strengthening of security in the Euro-Atlantic area, by sharing transatlantic responsibilities based on complementarity/non-duplication.
Fight against terrorism
The attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Nice, Munich and London, among others, have led NATO to redefine its priorities and strengthen the fight against terrorism. Therefore, at the Special Meeting held on May 25, 2017, the Allies approved NATO's accession to the Global Coalition against Daesh and endorsed an Action Plan against terrorism.
National participation in NATO missions and operations
National participation in NATO missions and operations is an essential instrument for the recognition and promotion of Portugal in the international stage and for the achievement of our foreign policy objectives, which include the defence of multilateralism and of a world order based on rules of international law.
Portugal participated in NATO missions and operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Mediterranean (fight against terrorism) and the Indian Ocean (fight against piracy).