April 4, 1949 - NATO

natoThe North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is founded

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also known as NATO, is an intergovernmental military alliance between thirty North American and European countries. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949, in Washington, D.C. The treaty consists of fourteen articles preceded by a preamble.

In the Treaty, the people pledge to “reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations;” express their determination “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law;” and declare their resolve “to unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security.” The North American Treaty stands to provide the framework for a military and political alliance. By signing the Treaty, the countries voluntarily commit themselves to participating in the political consultations and military activities of the Organization. Although each and every signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty is subject to the obligations of the Treaty, each country can choose in which ways they will contribute.

NATO has many headquarters. The political headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium; however, the three major military headquarters are in Mons, Belgium, as well as Norfolk and Northwood, United Kingdom.

The original members of NATO on the day of its inception in 1949, are Belgium, Canada, and Denmark. The Federal Republic of Germany joined on May 5, 1955, and France, Turkey, and Greece joined on February 18, 1952. Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain joined on May 30, 1982.



  • Belgium: M. Paul-Henri Spaak (NATO Secretary General, 1957-1961);
  • Canada: Mr Lester B. Pearson (negotiated the Treaty and was one of the “Three Wise Men” who drafted the report on non-military cooperation in NATO, published in 1956 in the wake of the Suez Crisis);
  • Denmark: Mr Gustav Rasmussen;
  • France: M. Robert Schuman (architect of the European institutions, who also initiated the idea of a European Defence Community);
  • Iceland: Mr Bjarni Benediktsson;
  • Italy: Count Carlo Sforza;
  • Luxembourg: M. Joseph Bech;
  • the Netherlands: Dr D.U. Stikker (NATO Secretary General, 1961-1964);
  • Norway: Mr Halvard M. Lange (one of the “Three Wise Men”, who drafted the report on non-military cooperation in NATO);
  • Portugal: Dr José Caeiro da Matta;
  • the United Kingdom: Mr Ernest Bevin (main drive behind the creation of NATO and as Foreign Secretary from 1945 to 1951, he attended the first formative meetings of the North Atlantic Council);
  • the United States: Mr Dean Acheson (as US Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953, he attended and chaired meetings of the North Atlantic Council).


By Aislinn Murray


Works Cited

“NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).” International Military and Defense Encyclopedia, edited by Trevor N. Dupuy, Macmillan Reference USA, 1993. Gale in Context: U.S. History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/BT2342200498/UHIC?u=seve27129&sid=UHIC&xid=a25161b2. Accessed 19 May 2020.

“President Harry S Truman (second from Left) Watching Secretary of State Dean Acheson Sign the NATO…” History in Dispute, edited by Benjamin Frankel, vol. 1, St. James Press, 2000. Gale in Context: U.S. History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/PC2876187026/UHIC?u=seve27129&sid=UHIC&xid=711400cd. Accessed 19 May 2020.

Sjursen, Helene. “On the Identity of NATO.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), vol. 80, no. 4, 2004, pp. 687-703. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3569530. Accessed 19 May 2020.