Enhancing NATO's cooperation with international organizations
At the Riga Summit in November 2006, the NATO Allies endorsed a comprehensive civil-military approach to security. This approach marks another stage in a transition underway since the end of the Cold War. An essential part of this is improving the Alliance's cooperation with other international organizations.
NATO's transition in responsibilities and tasks since the early 1990s has led to extensive cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and many other international organizations. While much has been achieved, various factors - including national and inter-institutional rivalries - have at times complicated the pursuit of better relations.
In addition, some states have retained a Cold War image of NATO as essentially a combat-oriented military organization. The attitude of "we do peace, NATO does war" also persists among some staff members of other international organizations. The fact that NATO has become the world's largest destroyer of small arms and light weapons is little-known outside the Alliance.
NATO is perhaps half-way through a transition from its Cold War posture to one adapted to current and emerging security requirements. It has had to grapple with both urgent crisis response and long-term stabilization and reconstruction tasks. It cannot effectively meet these challenges alone. NATO and other major international security organizations have to find ways to work together more productively if they intend to achieve their shared goals.
NATO in transition
Since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia began in 1991, the NATO Allies have had to deal with types of conflicts different from their Cold War preoccupation with deterring the outbreak of an alliance-versus-alliance conventional war that might escalate to nuclear war.
Since the early 1990s, the Allies have had to focus on the prevention and containment of ethnic and political conflicts within and between states. Allied goals have extended beyond stopping the immediate violence to creating the conditions necessary for an enduring resolution of the conflicts.
Since the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, the Allies have become conscious of how failing states - such as Afghanistan under Taliban rule - can become havens for terrorist movements and organized criminal groups. To prevent new havens from being established, the Allies must achieve more than victory in the traditional sense of defeating an enemy's forces in combat.
Continue reading the full article in NATO Review.
David S. Yost, a professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He served as a senior research fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome from 2004-2007.