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arrow The Alliance's New Strategic Concept

Part I - The Strategic Context
Part II - Alliance Objectives And Security Functions
Part III - A Broad Approach To Security
Part IV - Guidelines For Defence
Part V - Conclusion

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Part III - A Broad Approach To Security

Protecting peace in a new Europe

  1. The Alliance has always sought to achieve its objectives of safeguarding the security and territorial integrity of its members, and establishing a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe, through both political and military means. This comprehensive approach remains the basis of the Alliance's security policy.

  2. But what is new is that, with the radical changes in the security situation, the opportunities for achieving Alliance objectives through political means are greater than ever before. It is now possible to draw all the consequences from the fact that security and stability have political, economic, social, and environmental elements as well as the indispensable defence dimension. Managing the diversity of challenges facing the Alliance requires a broad approach to security. This is reflected in three mutually reinforcing elements of Allied security policy; dialogue, co-operation, and the maintenance of a collective defence capability.

  3. The Alliance's active pursuit of dialogue and co-operation, underpinned by its commitment to an effective collective defence capability, seeks to reduce the risks of conflict arising out of misunderstanding or design; to build increased mutual understanding and confidence among all European states; to help manage crises affecting the security of the Allies; and to expand the opportunities for a genuine partnership among all European countries in dealing with common security problems.

  4. In this regard, the Alliance's arms control and disarmament policy contributes both to dialogue and to co-operation with other nations, and thus will continue to play a major role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. The Allies seek, through arms control and disarmament, to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the requirements of defence. Thus, the Alliance will continue to ensure that defence and arms control and disarmament objectives remain in harmony.

  5. In fulfilling its fundamental objectives and core security functions, the Alliance will continue to respect the legitimate security interests of others, and seek the peaceful resolution of disputes as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations. The Alliance will promote peaceful and friendly international relations and support democratic institutions. In this respect, it recognizes the valuable contribution being made by other organizations such as the European Community and the CSCE, and that the roles of these institutions and of the Alliance are complementary.


  1. The new situation in Europe has multiplied the opportunities for dialogue on the part of the Alliance with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Alliance has established regular diplomatic liaison and military contacts with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as provided for in the London Declaration. The Alliance will further promote dialogue through regular diplomatic liaison, including an intensified exchange of views and information on security policy issues. Through such means the Allies, individually and collectively, will seek to make full use of the unprecedented opportunities afforded by the growth of freedom and democracy throughout Europe and encourage greater mutual understanding of respective security concerns, to increase transparency and predictability in security affairs, and thus to reinforce stability. The military can help to overcome the divisions of the past, not least through intensified military contacts and greater military transparency. The Alliance's pursuit of dialogue will provide a foundation for greater co-operation throughout Europe and the ability to resolve differences and conflicts by peaceful means.


  1. The Allies are also committed to pursue co-operation with all states in Europe on the basis of the principles set out in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. They will seek to develop broader and productive patterns of bilateral and multilateral co-operation in all relevant fields of European security, with the aim, inter alia, of preventing crises or, should they arise, ensuring their effective management. Such partnership between the members of the Alliance and other nations in dealing with specific problems will be an essential factor in moving beyond past divisions towards one Europe whole and free. This policy of co-operation is the expression of the inseparability of security among European states. It is built upon a common recognition among Alliance members that the persistence of new political, economic or social divisions across the continent could lead to future instability, and such divisions must thus be diminished.

Collective Defence

  1. The political approach to security will thus become increasingly important. Nonetheless, the military dimension remains essential. The maintenance of an adequate military capability and clear preparedness to act collectively in the common defence remain central to the Alliance's security objectives. Such a capability, together with political solidarity, is required in order to prevent any attempt at coercion or intimidation, and to guarantee that military aggression directed against the Alliance can never be perceived as an option with any prospect of success. It is equally indispensable so that dialogue and co-operation can be undertaken with confidence and achieve their desired results.

Management of crisis and conflict prevention

  1. In the new political and strategic environment in Europe, the success of the Alliance's policy of preserving peace and preventing war depends even more than in the past on the effectiveness of preventive diplomacy and successful management of crises affecting the security of its members. Any major aggression in Europe is much more unlikely and would be preceded by significant warning time. Though on a much smaller scale, the range and variety of other potential risks facing the Alliance are less predictable than before.

  2. In these new circumstances there are increased opportunities for the successful resolution of crises at an early stage. The success of Alliance policy will require a coherent approach determined by the Alliance's political authorities choosing and co-ordinating appropriate crisis management measures as required from a range of political and other measures, including those in the military field. Close control by the political authorities of the Alliance will be applied from the outset and at all stages. Appropriate consultation and decision making procedures are essential to this end.

  3. The potential of dialogue and co-operation within all of Europe must be fully developed in order to help to defuse crises and to prevent conflicts since the Allies' security is inseparably linked to that of all other states in Europe. To this end, the Allies will support the role of the CSCE process and its institutions. Other bodies including the European Community, Western European Union and United Nations may also have an important role to play.