German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Profile: NATO

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
founded in 1949


28 members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of sovereign states committed to joint attainment of security and defence objectives. Specifically, NATO aims to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means and to help achieve a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe.

The Alliance’s basic operating principles are full consultation, cooperation and solidarity.


The legal and treaty foundation of the North Atlantic Alliance is the North Atlantic Treaty of 4 April 1949. In this treaty, the Alliance parties expressly reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is the institution embodying the North Atlantic Alliance. NATO provides structures and mechanisms to help the Alliance and its members achieve their common goals. Its top decision-making bodies are the North Atlantic Council, Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group.

The North Atlantic Council is the supreme decision-making body. It covers all Alliance policy areas except defence planning and nuclear policy. The North Atlantic Council normally meets once weekly at the level of permanent representatives (ambassadors), twice yearly at the level of foreign affairs and defence ministers, and roughly every three years at the level of heads of state and government.

The Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group meet twice yearly at the level of defence ministers, preceded by preparatory meetings at the level of permanent representatives (ambassadors).

The Military Committee is the senior military authority in NATO. It advises the North Atlantic Council, the Defence Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group on military policy and strategy. It is also responsible for overall direction of the Alliance’s military tasks. It meets weekly at the level of national military representatives and three times yearly at the level of chiefs of staff.

These top-level bodies are aided by some 340 subordinate bodies (committees, working groups, etc.) plus the International Staff and the International Military staff.

Countries retain their full sovereignty and independence within the Alliance. All Alliance decisions are therefore reached by consensus.


NATO Headquarters
Boulevard Leopold III
B-1110 Brussels


BfN activities::

BfN works with NATO in the Science for Peace and Security programme. NATO-funded conferences on biodiversity were held in Azerbaijan in 2005 and 2006.

Further information

NATO website


Last Change: 16/06/2010