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NATO and Human Security

A New Guiding Principle?
Georgios Triantafyllou University of Kent

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Abstract The end of the Cold War and the consequent developments in international politics initiated an ongoing debate regarding the need for a re-conceptualisation of security. This debate, in which academics and policy makers have been equally engaged, has been dominated by the newly articulated concept of human security. In the international level, the UN and many other leading international organisations have endorsed this new concept of security, setting it as a guideline for the formation of their policies. Among these IGOs, NATO is a very interesting case. Being the most prominent and successful alliance among states, NATO has been founded on the traditional state-centric notion of security for almost forty years. However, the post-Cold War developments could not leave NATO unaffected. Since the early 1990s, NATO, being in search of a new vision, expanded the scope of its existence and engaged in peace operations outside its territorial borders. The new, broad approach to security adopted by NATO is influence by elements of human security, and this is evident in NATOs post-Cold War agenda.

Introduction The end of the Cold War has been widely regarded as a milestone in the history of world politics and international relations, and from many different perspectives this is a really accurate remark. The argument of this paper is that despite the absence of any reference to human security in NATOs official documents regarding the strategic concept of the Alliance, there are strong indications that NATO has indeed recognised human security as a meaningful concept and a useful principle in the post-Cold War environment; the Alliance itself has adopted elements of human security as the driving power for many of its policies. Within a period of two years, starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and until the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December 1991, the international system was radically transformed, marking the beginning of a whole new era. The disintegration of the USSR left the United States (US) as the worlds only superpower and changed dramatically the balance of power that was kept in place for more than forty years. The unification of Germany created a new security environment in Europe, and the political developments in Central and Eastern Europe eliminated the communist threat for the

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Western part of the continent. Overall, bipolarity, which was undoubtedly the dominant characteristic of the international system since the end of World War II, gave way to a unimultipolar structure that allowed for numerous international and regional actors to become prominent players in international politics. This sudden and unexpected transformation of the worlds strategic environment presented both the states individually and the international society as a whole with a series of new, challenging problems that could have serious implications on international peace and security. Most prominent among those challenges was the rapid increase of the number of intrastate wars worldwide; a problem that demanded a clear and effective response1. The big numbers of casualties, and especially the alarmingly high numbers of civilian deaths, associated with civil wars highlighted beyond any doubt the urgent need to secure and protect the life of the worlds populations. This need triggered an intense debate among scholars and policy makers regarding the conceptual re-definition of security, so as to meet successfully the post-Cold War strategic challenges. The main product of this debate was a new conceptual understanding of security, namely human security. The introduction of human security in the lexicon of international politics has essentially shifted the conceptual focus of security from the level of the state to the level of the people, or else all human individuals, providing an alternative lens through which we can identify, evaluate and respond to security threats. Human security was soon recognised and adopted by many IGOs as a new guiding principle. Most prominent among these IGOs have been the UN and its numerous specialised agencies that treat human security as the main regulating principle for their policies. Outside the UN framework, a particularly interesting case regarding the adaptation of human security is NATO. Formed as a typical military alliance in 1949, NATO was during the Cold War era the frontline of the American and European defence against the Soviet threat. Consequently, the end of the Cold War could not leave the Alliance unaffected; on the contrary it challenged severely the relevance that NATO could have in the post-Cold War era. In order to meet this challenge, NATO embarked on a transformation process, which is still ongoing and the results of which can be identified by examining NATOs changing nature, principles, objectives and operations.

Civil wars represent 94% of all the armed conflicts fought worldwide during the 1990s. P. Wallenstein and M. Sollenberg, Armed Conflict, 1989-2000, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 38, no. 5, September 2001, pp. 629-644.

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This paper is roughly divided in two parts. In the first part, I will make some brief conceptual observations regarding human security, mainly in relation to the three basic questions that constitute the conceptual core of security; security of whom, security from what and security with what means?2 These observations are necessary as they lay the basis on which NATOs strategic transformation will be examined. In the second part, I will examine the different phases in the evolution of NATOs strategic concept trying to trace therein elements of a human security approach following the end of the Cold War.

Human Security: some basic observations

A. From national to human security. As mentioned above, the birth of human security has been essentially a post-Cold War development. Thus, the first major observation that can be made regarding human security is that it is often understood as an updated conceptual alternative to the traditional understanding of security associated with Realism. Indeed, the outbreak of the Second World War and the consequent discredit of the great Liberal Idealism, which had prevailed during the interwar years (1919-1939), re-established the realist school of thought in a leading position in international politics. The realist perceptions regarding the structure of the world and the conduct of international relations became the dominant framework of political analysis, and for the period between the late 1930s and the late 1970s the domination of realism was such that reached to a point of virtual exclusion of alternative perspectives3. The traditional concept of security associated with Realism is very closely related to the core realist principles of statism, survival and self-help4. Accordingly, answering the question security of whom Realism clearly highlights the sovereign state as the most prominent object of security, and shortly after the Second World War this state-centric notion of security generated the term national security5. During the Cold War, the military, political

S. Tadjbakhsh and A. M. Chenoy, Human Security; Concepts and Implications, Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics, Routledge, London 2007, p. 13 3 M. Sheehan, International Security; An Analytical Survey, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London 2005, p. 5. 4 T. Dunne and B. C. Schmidt, Realism, in J. Baylis, S. Smith and P. Owen, The Globalization of World Politics; An Introduction to International Relations, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., Oxford 2008, p. 100. 5 The term national security was originally applied in 1945 by James Forrestal, the first US Secretary of Defense, as a guiding principle for the US foreign policy. R. Thakur, The United Nations, Peace and Security, Cambridge University Press, New York 2006, pp. 75-76.

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and ideological confrontation between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact, together with the consequent structural polarisation of the world around the US and the USSR, resulted in a great conceptual elevation of the term national security to the point of becoming synonymous to security per se6. Regarding the question security from what, realists argue that in the anarchic international arena, where states are the most significant actors, states are constantly threatened by the actions of other states. Hence, states are left with no other choice but to try and always protect themselves from the threats that other states pose upon them 7. The realist concept of security proves once again to be highly state-centric, as the states hold at the same time two very different attributes. On the one hand, the state is the most prominent object of security, found in a constant need to be secured from threats against its own existence. On the other hand, the state is perceived as the greatest source of threat against the existence of other states. In other words, realists argue that the state is inevitably engaged in a vicious cycle, in which the never-ending struggle for national security has to respond to threats posed by the actions of other states along the course of their quest for security. Finally, regarding the question security with what means, the answer provided by Realism is through power; the ultimate currency in international relations, which is narrowly defined and measured in terms of the states military capabilities 8. This explicitly state-centric understanding of security had been dominating world politics since the 17th century. Indeed, since 1648 and the peace treaty of Westphalia and until the late 1980s, definitions of security had always been founded on the Hobbesian concept of sovereign state, as both the principal provider and recipient of security. During the Cold War era, this was exemplified in full from the two rival superpowers; the US and the USSR. Their ideological confrontation resulted in a manichaeistic dichotomy of the world between East and West, and the mere existence of each side was understood as a vital threat to the existence and security of the other. However, the post-Cold War developments came to highlight the weaknesses of the Westphalian model of sovereign state, and above all the obvious failure of certain states to provide and safeguard the security of their own people. The unparalleled increase of intrastate conflicts for ethnic and/or religious causes, combined with other problems of major importance such as forced immigration, humanitarian emergencies, the spread of pandemic diseases, genocides and numerous threats to the environmental security resulted in great numbers of civilian deaths, highlighting beyond any
6 7

M. Sheehan, International Security; An Analytical Survey, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London 2005, p. 6. R. Aron, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1966, p. 7. 8 Waltz argues that in international politics force serves not only as the ultima ratio, but indeed as the first and constant one. K. Waltz, Theory of International Relations, McGraw-Hill, San Francisco 1979, p. 113.

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doubt the vulnerability of human individuals and the need to protect them. Moreover, during the 1990s became widely accepted that in many cases the states could become the very actors whose actions threaten directly the security and well-being of their people. As A. Mack claimed, in the last one hundred years, far more people have died at the hands of their own governments than have been killed by foreign armies9. Thus, soon after the end of the Cold War, the protection of peoples became a concern of great importance in international politics. As a response to this concern, the concept of human security was developed building upon earlier challenges to the traditional state-centric understanding of security, and became extensively used both among academics and policymakers worldwide10. Discussing this development, MacFarlane and Khong concluded in 2004 that the reasons behind it can be summarised in six factors. First, armed conflict had assumed a character of mass participation, creating an unprecedented record regarding the numbers of affected people. Second, the evolution of warfare based on the industrial and scientific revolution had resulted in big numbers of both combatant and non-combatant casualties, making the need for protecting human life greater than ever before. Third, there have been numerous tragic examples of state regimes that have turned against their own people, for reasons such as religious and ethnic differences. Fourth, the decolonization process gave birth to many states that were practically incapable to provide for their peoples security. Fifth, the structural transformation of the international system because of the collapse of the USSR and the end of bipolarity created the room for new understandings of order and security, which were deviating from the traditional Cold War perceptions. Finally, in the era of globalization, the importance of the state and of the military threat to its security has been significantly reduced, as other types of threats, such as economic or environmental, spread fast and overriding the states boundaries affect large numbers of people11. B. Defining human security: an everlasting challenge. Another important point that has to be made regarding human security is that the establishment of the term in the international politics lexicon came along with a challenge

A. Mack, A Signifier of Shared Values, in P. Burgess and T. Owen (eds), What is Human Security?, Comments by 21 authors, Special Issue of Security Dialogue, vol. 35, no. 3, September 2004, p. 366. 10 For early challenges to the realist conceptualization of security see A. Wolfers, National Security as an Ambiguous Symbol, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 67, no. 4, December 1952, pp. 481-502; Brandt Report, Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, North South: A Programme for Survival, Pan Books, London 1980; R. Ullman, Redefining Security, International Security, no. 8, Summer 1983, pp. 129-153; B. Buzan, People, States and Fear, 1st ed., Harvester Wheatsheaf, Brighton 1983. 11 S. N. MacFarlane and Y. F Khong, Human Security and the UN; A Critical History, United Nations Intellectual History Project Series, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2006.

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that any new understanding of security had to face over time; namely the development and presentation of a coherent and widely accepted conceptualisation of the term that would help the policymakers to implement its theoretical principles in practice. Until nowadays, despite all the efforts made, the concept of human security has remained highly contested, acquiring each time a different definition according to the context and the purpose of analysis, and being applied as a theoretical foundation for various different policies both in the state and the international level. The UN, having assumed a leading position in world politics after the Cold War, has been the greatest champion of human security as a valid and meaningful concept in world politics. In 1992, the breakthrough report An Agenda for Peace presented for the first time the idea of human security in an official UN document, highlighting among other things the importance of the new role of the UN in an integrated approach to human security12. However, it was not until 1994 and the Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that human security was articulated as a distinct and comprehensive concept, shouting for everyones attention and concern. The report, which until today is considered a seminal contribution to the post-Cold War security debate, began by acknowledging the fact that for too long, the concept of security has been shaped by the potential of conflict between states. For too, long security has been equated with threats to a countrys borders. For too long, nations have sought arms to protect their security 13. Seeking to address and reverse this situation, the report presented a very broad definition in which human security was described as having two aspects. One was the safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression and the other was the protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily life whether in jobs, in homes or in communities14. Developing further their argument, the editors of the report argued in favour of a replacement of the traditional perception of national security with the new allencompassing concept of human security, as the latter could be much more suitable to address the real needs of the peoples for security. The report advocated that this conceptual change in security should be done in two basic ways: first, with a shift from an exclusive stress on territorial security to a much greater stress on peoples security and second, with a transition from security through armaments to security through sustainable human

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, An Agenda for Peace, A/47/277 - S/24111, 17/06/1992, available online at . 13 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report 1994; New Dimensions of Human Security, Oxford University Press, New York 1994, p. 3. 14 Ibid., p. 23.

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development15. According to the report, the concept of human security consists of two major components, namely freedom from fear and freedom from want. Freedom from fear indicates the human need for protection against physical violence, while freedom from want describes the need to address poverty. This dual clause of human security can only be satisfied if the international community manages to address successfully all the possible threats for human individuals, which according to the repost are threats against economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security16. Overall, the report highlights four elements as the main characteristics of the new understanding of security that advocates. First of all, human security is treated as a universal concern, as its objects are all people around the world. Apart from any particular types of threats that people face in certain parts of the globe due to conflict or underdevelopment, there are also threats which affect all human beings. Threats like unemployment, drugs, crime, human rights violations and pollution spread across states boundaries and continents, and challenge the well being of great number of peoples regardless of their colours, language, religion or ethnicity. Second, all the components of human security mentioned above are highly interconnected. Despite the need for the design and implementation of different policies in order to tackle successfully each of the threats to human security, the overall provision of human security depends heavily on the success of all these different policies together. More to this, globalisation has changed the way that threats to human security are being manifested, spreading their affects all over globe and demanding a common response from all the peoples. Third, human security is much easier provided through preventive policies and measures than by later intervening remedies. In other words, states and policy makers should focus on the early prevention of phenomena that can become threatening for human security, since this solution is much easier and cost effective than designing answers to problems that have been left to become manifested. Last but not least important, human security is by definition a people-centred idea. This fundamental characteristic of human security is the most significant departure from the traditional understanding of security as a state-centred concept. Indeed, this shift of attention from the needs of the states to the needs of the peoples constitutes the very basis for the conceptual development of human security, as this has been taking place since the early 1990s. Highlighting the substance of this change of focus, the report argued explicitly that contrary to traditional understandings of security, human security is not a concern with weapons it is a concern with human life and dignity17.
15 16

Ibid., p. 24. Ibid., p. 25. 17 Ibid., p. 22.

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C. Human security: the broad vs. narrow approach. The definition presented by the 1994 UNDP report became the object of severe criticism regarding its conceptual meaning and its applicability. The unparalleled broadness of that definition attracted great attention both from academics and policy makers, and over time it became clear the formation of two different understandings or the human security concept. These two understandings most commonly known as the broad/maximalist versus narrow/minimalist debate although accepting the importance of human security as a meaningful concept, they differ significantly on how broadly or narrowly they describe the content of the term. Their difference develops around the two components of human security, as they are presented in the UNDP definition, namely freedom from fear and freedom from want. The advocates of the broad approach of the concept support the equally important value of both components, arguing that human security is achieved only if threats to both components are addressed simultaneously. The narrow understanding highlights the importance of freedom from fear, arguing that the inclusion of freedom from want in any definition of human security constitutes the definition superficial and impossible to operationalise. The broad/maximalist approach of human security builds around the 1994 definition presented by the UNDP, and therefore it comes as no surprise that it is extensively used and supported by all the UN agencies. Japan, which is a country with significant contribution to the debate for the conceptual development and promotion of human security, has also been explicitly in favour of a broad interpretation of the term18. This broad understanding of human security, highlighting the need to provide freedom from want, has been one of the guiding principles for Japans foreign policy in the post-Cold War era19. Moreover, it has been a connecting bond for many Asian countries that were seeking to operationalise human security based on their own Asian values and found the Japanese understanding of human security very appealing20. Extensive support for a broad conceptual understanding of human security

Japan has defined human security as efforts to cope with threats to human lives, livelihoods and dignity such as poverty, environmental degradation, illicit drugs, transnational organized crime, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, the outflow of refugees and anti-personnel land mines. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Diplomatic Bluebook 2000, Chapter II, Section 3, A. Overview Human Security, available online at 19 S. Tadjbakhsh and A. M. Chenoy, Human Security; Concepts and Implications, Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics, Routledge, London 2007, p. 29. 20 Despite Japans efforts to promote human security as a foreign policy objective, it is wrong to assume that traditional security concerns of national interest have been disregarded. Especially since the launch of the North Korean nuclear programme in 2002, it is more accurate to argue that human security has been treated as a valuable complement rather than a replacement of national security. Ibid., p. 30.

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can also be found among scholars, as many have presented different variations of the original UNDP definition trying to improve its analytical strength. Despite any differences that these definitions may have, they all seem to be in agreement regarding the following points. First, in the era of globalisation human security is the most meaningful perception of security; much more conceptually undated that the traditional notion of national security. Second, human security is treated as a multidimensional idea, since all the definitions provided highlight the existence of threats to human individuals other than those of military nature, such as political, socio-economic and environmental ones. Third, human security is appraised as the first interdisciplinary approach to security, as it overrides the boundaries of the narrow political analysis and combines elements from other debates, such as the protection of human rights, economic and human development, environmental protection and other related issues; thus a broad definition if not only useful but also necessary. However, many advocates of human security have raised serious concerns regarding the analytical weaknesses of the UNDP definition, arguing that this all-inclusive understanding of human security is very difficult to be practically applied through coherent and clear policies, both in the national and international level. Therefore, there have been many voices calling for a somehow more narrow definition of human security; one that will indicate its conceptual limitations and consequently will be easier to operationalise. Among the proponents of such a narrow perception of security, probably the most significant has been Canada; a country that since the mid 1990s has embraced human security as the regulating framework of its foreign policy, and has assumed major initiatives for the further promotion of the idea worldwide. In principle, Canadas understanding of human security is not really different from the UNDP definition21. However, the departure from the 1994 UNDP report came through the explicit statement of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) that through its foreign policy, Canada has chosen to focus its human security agenda on promoting safety for people by protecting them from threats of violence. We have chosen this focus because we believe this is where the concept of human security has the greatest added value where it complements existing international agendas already focussed


Indeed, according to the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) the threats to human security can be both of violent and non-violent nature, ranging from epidemic diseases to natural disasters and from environmental issues to economic crises, and thus human security if defined as freedom from pervasive threats to peoples rights, safety or lives. Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Human Security: Safety for People in a Changing World, 1999, available online at

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on promoting national security, human rights and human development22. At this point it is clear that although Canada accepts the existence of threats to both freedom from fear and freedom from want, in practice the Canadian concept of human security is far from being similar to the all-inclusive concept advocated by the UNDP. In other words, the agendas of human rights and human development, which are perceived as two of the fundamental ingredients of the broad conceptualisation of human security, are treated by Canada as two policy areas distinct from the human security framework. Furthermore, trying to operationalise this freedom from fear understanding of human security, Canada presented five policy areas which would determine the priority objectives of its foreign policy. These priorities were: the protection of civilians during international and civil conflict and the creation of norms for this purpose, the peace support operations of the UN to which Canada reaffirmed its prominent role through the deployment of highly trained personnel, conflict prevention through the development of the local communities capabilities to resolve conflict without resorting to arms, governance and accountability aiming at strengthening the existing norms of democracy, and finally, public safety concerned with efficient responses to the rising threat of international organised crime23. Many scholars have also been in support of the narrow understanding of the term advocated by Canada, appreciating its clear limitations and its growing analytical strength. MacFarlane, despite claiming that there is no intrinsic reason to favour narrow over broad conceptions of human security, has argued in support of a narrow approach that helps setting priorities among the objectives of the human security policies, and thus these objectives are easier to achieve in practice. Krause has argued that the term must be used only in reference to freedom from fear, giving two major reasons why human security should not include freedom from want; one being that the broad vision of human security is ultimately nothing but a shopping list [becoming] a loose synonym of bad things that can happen, and the other being that if we keep human security focused on freedom from fear from the threat of use of violence we can link it to a powerful and coherent practical and intellectual agenda24. Along the same line of argument, Mack wrote that any definition that conflates


Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Freedom from Fear; Canadas Foreign Policy for Human Security, 2000, p. 3, available online at b9f?OpenDocument 23 Ibid. 24 K. Krause, A Key to a Powerful Agenda if Properly Delimited, in P. Burgess and T. Owen (eds), What is Human Security?, Comments by 21 authors, Special Issue of Security Dialogue, vol. 35, no. 3, September 2004, p. 367-368.

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dependent and independent variables renders causal analysis virtually impossible. A concept that aspires to explain almost everything in reality explains nothing25. Summarising the debate presented above, one can clearly identify two distinct approaches of human security. On the one hand, the broad Japanese approach emphasises the priority of human development as a response to the freedom from want component of human security. On the other hand, the narrow Canadian approach focuses explicitly on the physical protection of people as a response to the freedom from fear aspect of human security. What is essentially different between the two approaches is the width of the threats spectrum they accept as a valid danger for human security. Consequently, depending on the broadness of each definition, human security is being used as the overall framework for various different policies. NATO and Human Security: a clear link. A. NATO during the Cold War. NATO was founded in 1949 as a military alliance, and as such it is one of the most successful and long living alliances ever established. The North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington on April 4, consisted of fourteen articles that described the principles, rationale and objectives of the newly formed alliance, and it was clearly guided by the dominant at that time state-centric notion of security. To begin with, the signing states were identified as the main recipients of the treatys security provisions. Indeed, after reaffirming its Parties faith and respect to the UN Charter, the treaty highlighted as the most prominent scope of the Parties the collective protection of their territorial integrity, political independence or security, whenever any of these was endangered.26 The territorial integrity and political independence have been traditionally understood as two elements fundamentally connected with the idea of statehood, and the acceptance of these elements as the objects of security confirms the state-centric approach to security running through NATOs constitutional treaty. In other words, to the question security of whom, the North Atlantic Treaty answered security of the member-states. Interestingly enough though, in principle the 1949 treaty did not appear to be directed again any particular adversary, as no such reference was made throughout the document.

A. Mack, A Signifier of Shared Values, in P. Burgess and T. Owen (eds), What is Human Security?, Comments by 21 authors, Special Issue of Security Dialogue, vol. 35, no. 3, September 2004, p. 367. 26 NATO, The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington D.C., April 4, 1949, Article 4, available online at

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Nonetheless the historical momentum made more than obvious that the formation of NATO was motivated by a growing fear among the US and its European allies regarding the hostile ideology of the Soviet Union and its military power. More to that, another reason for NATOs creation was the fact that the Alliance could arguably be an insurance provided by the US to Western Europe against Germanys potential attempts for retribution. Both motives demonstrate clearly the fact that NATOs member-states perceived as the only possible source of threats to their security other states; be it the Soviet Union and its allies, Germany, or any other state that would not embrace the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, on which the Alliance was founded27. The North Atlantic Treaty was much more precise regarding the type of security threats anticipated, describing as such any armed attack on one or more [of the Parties] in Europe or North America 28. Further on, the treaty explained that an armed attack was deemed to include an attack on the territories of any of the Parties and/or an attack on the Parties military forces29. The acceptance of military attacks as the only considerable threats for the Parties, together with the recognition of other states as the only possible source of these threats highlights once again the application of a state-centric understanding of security from NATO. In this respect, the answer given by the North Atlantic Treaty to the question security from what was security from armed attacks of other states. Finally, given the objectives of safeguarding their territories and political independence, and based on the nature of the threats against the Parties security identified in the treaty, the signing Parties committed separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid [to] maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack30. In addition to that and despite the explicitly declared defensive nature of the Alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty included the use of military power to the means available to the Parties in response to an armed attack against their territories and military forces. Thus, answering the third core question regarding security, namely security with what means, the 1949 treaty, although it allowed for the possibility of peaceful resolution of disputes, legitimised the approach of security through military power.
27 28

Ibid., Preamble. Ibid., Article 5. 29 The Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty included in the Parties territories the Algerian Department of France (until 1962, when Algeria became independent) and the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic are north of the Tropic of Cancer. Moreover, the Parties military forces were protected by the provisions of the treaty even when found in areas of Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force, or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer. Ibid, Article 6. 30 Ibid., Article 3.

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The historical developments following the ratification of the treaty, such as the continuing ideological polarisation between the US and the Soviet Union and the intensification of the military confrontation between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact, fuelled further the security dilemma on both sides. The accumulation of military power as the only effective means of security became the ultimate objective of both the eastern and the western blocs; leading to the conventional and nuclear arms race that dominated the Cold War era and which, in turn, intensified even more the mutually shared feeling of insecurity. The largely unexpected termination of the East vs. West rivalry was a highly paradoxical moment in the history of NATO. On the one hand, NATO had clearly won the Cold War, as it had outlived the Warsaw Pact confirming its military supremacy. On the other hand, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the eastern bloc, together with the unification of Germany, removed the main sources of threat for the territorial integrity and the political independence of Europe; essentially depriving NATO of its primary raison dtre and making many scholars to predict that NATO would not continue to live for very long 31. With the main source of threats for the security of its members no longer there, NATO was presented with a highly challenging dilemma: either to adapt to the new, post-Cold War international environment transforming accordingly its strategic concept and its understanding of security, or to cease to exist. NATO chose to adapt. B. NATO during the 1990s; a broad approach to security. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 its principal successor, Russia, was still retaining substantial military forces, both conventional and nuclear, and the fact that the country had entered a phase of intense political and socio-economic reforms made its foreign policy towards the West hard to calculate and predict. Thus, NATO was still relevant as a military alliance securing the territories and freedom of its members, even though the chances of a large-scale attack against Europe had become really thin. Understanding the unparalleled importance of NATO for the stability and security of the North Atlantic region, its members decided that NATO should not be disbanded; rather it should continue to be the main provider of security for Europe and North America, adapting at the same time in the complex strategic environment that had just began to emerge. The start of NATOs adaptation process was officially marked by the 1990 London Declaration of the North Atlantic Council (NAC). Addressing the dramatic changes that were

See for example: Mearsheimer, John J., Back to the future: instability in Europe after the cold war, International Security, 1990, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 5-56; Watlz, Kenneth N., The emerging structure of international politics, International Security, 1993, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 44-79.

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taking place in Europe, the NATOs members confirmed that NATO would definitely adapt, and aside from being the provider of their common defence it would become an agent of change.32 The Declaration presented a number of important changes, as a response to the sudden alteration of the international balance of power, describing essentially a shift in NATOs understanding of its strategic environment. More precisely, NATO members asserted that in the new Europe, the security of every state is inseparably linked to the security of its neighbours, and therefore the Alliance rather than remaining merely a forum for common defense discussion, it should also become an agent for the development of new partnerships with the former adversary states of Eastern Europe.33 To promote this strategic adaptation, the London Declaration proposed a series of structural transformations in NATOs military forces in Europe, such as the reduction of conventional forces deployed in order to increase their readiness and flexibility, and the readjustment of NATOs nuclear arsenal to the lowest possible level necessary to secure the prevention of war. 34 Parallel to these proposed changes, the NATO members reaffirmed that they would remain a defensive alliance with no aggressive intentions, underlining that NATO would never in any circumstances be the first to use force, and in order to communicate better this claim they suggested the negotiation of certain CSBM between NATO and the counties of the former Eastern Bloc.35 Building on the provisions of the London Declaration the North Atlantic Council, during a meeting in Rome in 1991, adopted the first ever published Strategic Concept of the Alliance; manifesting clearly that NATO had entered a completely new era. Starting by evaluating the emerging strategic environment both in the East and the West, the North Atlantic Council concluded that the overall security of the NATO members has improved significantly over the last couple of years. As the main reason for this improvement, was acknowledged the fact that the monolithic, massive and potentially immediate threat which was the principle concern of the Alliance in its first forty years [had] disappeared 36. However, the reduced chances for a major military confrontation in Europe did not mean, in any way, that the insecurity regarding future developments had disappeared. On the contrary,

NATO, Declaration on a transformed North Atlantic Alliance issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, London , 6 July 1990, para. 1-2, available online at 33 Ibid., para. 4. 34 Ibid., para. 12-16. 35 The CSBM package proposed would be discussed within the CSCE framework. For more information see: OSCE, Start of CSBM and CFE negotiations, available online at 36 NATO, The Alliances New Strategic Concept, 7-8 November 1991, para. 5, available online at

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NATOs post-Cold War Strategic Concept was founded on the understanding that the new security challenges that the Alliance would have to face were much more complicated and demanding, and thus extremely difficult to predict and address successfully based on the narrow state-centric notion of security that had dominated NATO during the Cold War. To address this problem, the North Atlantic Council argued explicitly in favour of a transformed NATO strategy based on a new broad approach to security37. The first step towards this new understanding of security was made through the acceptance that the security threats against NATO could be manifested in many different ways, rather than only as a direct armed attack on the territories and the military forces of its member-states. Indeed, the North Atlantic Council highlighted that in contrast with the predominant threat of the past, the risks to Allied security that remain are multi-faceted in nature and multi-directional38. Therefore, the pool of possible security threats was expanded, and next to military offenses against NATO territories were listed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the disruption of the flow of vital resources, and any actions of terrorism and sabotage.39 The reference to vital resources as a security threat was indeed a major innovation, and can be explained as a result of the experience gained by NATO during the 1991 Gulf War; or else a way to legitimise the informal yet considerable support provided by the Alliance to the US-led coalition that intervened in the conflict in support of Kuwait. Challenging further the Cold War understanding of security, the 1991 Strategic Concept described the awareness of NATO that the new security threats not only they could be of various different types, but they could also derive from many different and diverse sources. In that sense, rather than identifying a states ideology and/or military intentions as the principle source of security threats, any political, social, and economic difficulty could be a potential source of threats to NATOs security. The North Atlantic Council was particularly alarming regarding the emergence of ethnic and religious rivalries, as well as territorial disputes, often manifested in the form of armed conflicts in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe that were parts of the Soviet Block.40 The attention of the NATO members was drawn to a possible spill over of these conflicts to their territories, since a development like that would create direct threats for their security. This expanded understanding regarding the sources of possible security threats was a clear reaffirmation of the argument, which was first presented in the London Declaration a year earlier, holding that in the new strategic
37 38

Ibid., para. 14. Ibid., para. 8. 39 Ibid., para. 12. 40 Ibid., para. 9.

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environment the security of NATO members was fundamentally depended on the security of their neighbouring states. Based on this logic, the North Atlantic Council highlighted that NATOs security should be evaluated in a global context, widening the focus of NATOs strategic interests so as to include Eastern Europe, the South Mediterranean, and the Middle East.41 The broad approach to security running through the Strategic Concept of 1991, was not only manifested through the acceptance of different types of security threats coming from various sources, but it was also clearly present in NATOs new understanding regarding the means available to maintain and promote security. Once again the move away from the Cold War approach to security was obvious, as now there were strong references not only to the utility of military strength, but also to the possibilities of satisfying NATOs security objectives through political means. According to the North Atlantic Council, security had become multi-dimensional; consisting from political, social, economic, and environmental elements, together with its defence dimension. This way, the security of NATO members was no longer depending solely on the defensive capabilities of the Alliance, but could also be achieved through a more comprehensive policy, which would be structured around three mutually reinforcing elements: dialogue, cooperation, and the maintenance of a collective defence capability.42 While the maintenance of a collective defence capability was hardly a novelty in NATOs policies, the reference to dialogue and cooperation was undoubtedly a new element that signified the transformation of NATO from a Cold War military alliance, to a post-Cold War political and military institution. The institutionalisation of dialogue and cooperation became integral elements of NATOs policies formally in 1994 through the presentation of the Partnership for Peace framework; a programme operating under the supervision of the North Atlantic Council aiming to bring together NATO member states and other countries participating in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and the CSCE. The objective of the Partnership for Peace was to create direct channels of communication between the participating countries and to promote political and military coordination, increasing this way the stability in Europe and eliminating the sources of potential threats to NATOs security either by preventing conflicts, or by successfully managing them once they occured. The Programme built on the strategic transformation advocated by the 1991 Strategic Concept, and was designed to uphold principles such as the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights,
41 42

Ibid., para. 11. Ibid., para. 24.

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the safeguarding of freedom, justice and peace through democracy43. Partnership for Peace was thus founded on NATOs post-Cold War broad understanding of security, and represented another major break away from NATOs Cold War strategy which was exclusively focused on the military deterrence of the Soviet Union. Indeed, in view of the desired objectives of stability and security, and following the need to address the humanitarian emergencies that had troubled the Balkans since the early 1990s, the Programme marked the expansion of the NATO agenda over the areas of peacekeeping, search and rescue missions, humanitarian operations, and any other missions deemed necessary and agreed among the Partners.44 The involvement of NATO in the wars of the former Yugoslavia was the actual proof that the Alliance had changed, as the NATO members demonstrated that were willing to take up the heavy responsibilities they had been assigned through NATOs strategic transformation. The war in Bosnia was the first major challenge to the European security since the end of the Cold War, posing a significant threat of both strategic and humanitarian nature. On the on hand, the geographical proximity with Western Europe threatened directly, in case of a spill over, the stability and security of many European Allies, calling urgently for the successful management of the crisis. On the other hand, the humanitarian disaster taking place in Bosnia was unquestionably a profound challenge to the principles of human rights and individual liberties advocated by NATO. Thus, when the EU initiatives proved inadequate to address the war, the involvement of NATO was justified not only on the basis of securing the territorial integrity of its members against a possible spill over of the conflict, but also on the grounds of protecting the humanitarian principles that had been so enthusiastically promoted by the NATO members. This endorsement of humanitarian values by NATO, and the use of these values as a justification for NATOs peace enforcement and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia were confirmed some years later by the NATO SecretaryGeneral Lord Robertson who argued: for our values alone, we had to act, to demonstrate clearly that in the Europe of today, this kind of action was no longer acceptable 45. If this was really the case, NATOs transformation that had began in the early 1990s with the adoption of a broad understanding of security can be seen as consisting elements of human security;


NATO, Partnership for Peace: Framework Document issued by the Heads of State and Governments participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Brussels, 10-11 January 1994, para. 2, available online at 44 Ibid., para. 3. 45 Lord G. Robertson, NATO Operations in the Balkans, Canadian Military Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 2000, p. 6

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through the pursue of objectives related to the protection of human life and freedom, or else the freedom from fear component of the 1994 UNDP definition. It was not until 1998 though, that human security was explicitly presented by the Secretary-General Javier Solana as an objective of NATO. In a speech under the title Securing Peace in Europe, Solana described in details the post-Cold War international environment, pointing out that the Westphalian model of international organisation could only have a limited success as the principle of sovereignty [on which the model relied on] produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration 46. Following, he urged that there was a great need for the whole of the international community to re-examine fundamentally the concepts around which [...] security has been organised47, so as to meet the post-Cold War security challenges. Therefore, Solana argued that international order and security should be build around two fundamental principles, namely humanity and democracy, and that these two principles could only be upheld internationally through the close and efficient cooperation of all the major international and regional organisations, including NATO. According to Solana, the importance of humanity as an element of states policies is indispensable, because a security policy which is not constructed around the needs of man and humanity will risk the worst fate being ineffectual48. This explicit statement of NATOs leading official was both a direct challenge to the state-centric understanding of security that was guiding NATOs policies during the Cold War, and a vocal proof that the Alliance had also subscribed to the redefined concept of security that emerged from the UN framework during the 1990s. However, Solana, rushed to clarify that advocating human security should not be mistaken for a crusade and that the appeal to human rights [should not] be abused as a convenient mask to hide the reckless pursuit of national interests49. Overall, he concluded that the Allies had the capabilities and the experience to engage successfully to new tasks, but they should do so without ever losing sight of the importance of humanity and democracy as guiding principles50.


J. Solana, Securing Peace in Europe, Speech at the Symposium on the Political Relevance of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, Mnster, November 1998, available online at 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid.

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C. The 1999 Strategic Concept: preparing NATO for the new Millennium. Driven by the need to keep up with the latest international developments and the new security challenged emerging during the 1990s, the North Atlantic Council, meeting in Washington, adopted in 1999 a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. The new concept was building as expected on the 1991 document, adding to that the significant experiences gained by NATO during the last eight years. The North Atlantic Council started by evaluating the security situation since the end of the Cold War, asserting that due to NATOs significant contribution the East-West confrontation was peacefully brought an end, and Europe stood once again united. Moreover, the Council highlighted the importance of NATOs role in promoting stability in the Euro-Atlantic region through dialogue and cooperation as well as through military deterrence; reaffirming at the same time that the objectives of the Alliance would continue to be the defence of its members through the establishment of peace and security in its neighbouring regions, and always by promoting the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.51 To this end, the 1999 Strategic Concept highlighted five fundamental security tasks for the Alliance on the eve of the new Millennium: First, regarding security, NATO was meant to be one of the main foundations for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic environment, thought the strengthening of democratic institutions and commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Second, regarding consultation, the Alliance would continue to be the highest transatlantic forum for cooperation and coordination between the NATO members, on any security related issue. Third, regarding deterrence and defence, NATO would continue to accept as its primary objective the protection of its members against any act of aggression, in accordance with the Articles 5 and 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty.52 Aiming in particular to the further enhancement of security and stability, NATO would intensify its efforts regarding crisis management by participating in crisis response operations, and regarding partnership by promoting the constant dialogue and cooperation with all the NATO neighbouring countries. More precisely, regarding the NATOs role in conflict prevention and crisis management, the North Atlantic Council argued that the Alliance would be willing to support on a case-by-case basis in accordance to its own procedures, peacekeeping and other operations under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE, including by making available Alliance resources and expertise. 53 Based on this commitment

NATO, The Alliances Strategic Concept, 24 April 1999, para. 6, available online at 52 Ibid., para. 10. 53 Ibid., para. 31.

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included in the 1999 Strategic Concept, the North Atlantic Council justified NATOs engagement in the Balkans during the post-Cold War era. The 1999 Strategic Concept continued to have a broad understanding of security accepting, just like the Strategic Concept of 1991, the fact that security had many dimensions aside of merely defending the members of the Alliance. However, the new Strategic Concept expanded further NATOs understanding of security, by expanding the list of security threats anticipated, so as to include a humanitarian component. Indeed, next to the instability as a result of political and socio-economic difficulties, the ethnic and religious rivalries, and the territorial disputes, there were references to inadequate or failed attempts to reform, the dissolution of states, and the abuse of human rights. 54 Despite the absence of any explicit reference to the Balkans regarding these points, the acceptance of human rights abuses and the dissolution of states as sources of instability, and thus as sources of security threats for NATO, was a further adaptation of the Alliances to the latest developments in the Balkans during the 1990s based on the lessons learnt by NATO through its involvement in the Bosnian war. Moreover, the particular reference, for the first time, to human rights abuses as endangering the stability and security of the Euro-Atlantic region provides some ground for the argument that the notion of human security was running thought the Strategic Concept of 1999, even thought the term per se was not directly mentioned in the document. In support of this argument is also the fact that two members of the Alliance, Norway and Canada, have been particularly active in the promotion of human security as a guiding principle since the end of the Cold War. As it has been argued earlier in this paper, Canada has adopted a narrow understanding of human security, focusing on the protection of human life in situations of international and civil conflict. In pursue of this objective, Canada was the driving force behind the agreement of the Ottawa Convention on the Proliferation of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, allocating at the same time $100 million for mine action in countries all around the world, including Bosnia and Kosovo.55 The 1999 Strategic Concept included a welcoming reference to the Ottawa Convention, underlining its importance in alleviating human suffering; another indication for the acceptance by NATO of human security as a meaningful policy objective. Once again it was the developments in the Balkans that provided the test for NATOs willingness to implement in practice the provisions of its Strategic Concept. The ethnic and religious differences in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo resulted in 1998 in a brutal civil
54 55

Ibid., para. 20. Axworthy, L., NATOs New Security Vocation, NATO Review, no. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 8-11.

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war between Albanians and Serbs, presenting the Alliance with the same dual threat as the Bosnian war had done some years earlier. Once again, NATOs involvement was justified along two different arguments. On the one hand, the war in Kosovo was a serious threat of strategic nature, destabilising the wider region of the Balkans and possibly of the SouthEastern Europe; thus threatening the security of the Allies. On the other hand, the tragic loss of human life, the continuous abuses of human rights, and the orchestrated ethnic cleansing against the Albanian population of the Kosovo constituted a humanitarian emergency that resulted in a flood of refugees towards the neighbouring countries; by definition, this was a major threat to the stability and security on NATO members according to the updated Strategic Concept of the Alliance. Presented with this complex situation, NATO demonstrated an unparalleled determination to uphold the commitment to the principles of democracy and humanity deriving from its Strategic Concept, and overriding the UN Security Council intervened in Kosovo enforcing the peace. In order to highlight the humanitarian imperative behind NATOs intervention in Kosovo, Secretary General Lord Robertson argued: We took action because we had to. [...] As it was the case in Bosnia, in Kosovo our values and our security interests converged.56 Addressing the security threats deriving from the conflicts in the Balkans was undoubtedly holding most of NATOs attention until 2001. However, the terrorist attacks against the US on 9/11 revealed a new security threat, namely international terrorism, which has been the top priority of the Alliance since then. The tragic events of 9/11 were certainly a milestone in the evolution of NATO for many different reasons. First, it was the first time since 1949 that the members of the Alliance invoked the principle of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, regarding the collective response to any military offense against one or more of them. Second, the nature of the attack demonstrated that NATO should expand further its understanding of security so as to include non-state actors, like al-Qaida to the potential sources of threats to security. Finally, the identification of Afghanistan as the main place of origin of the attack delivered another important message. In the new Millennium, NATO could not remain focused on the Euro-Atlantic region for its security, but instead its attention had to turn all around the world; even in territories far away from the lands of its members. In response to the 9/11, a US-led military campaign targeted in October 2001 the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, engaging in a mission to fight the sources of international terrorism in the country and to plant the seeds of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Despite

Lord G. Robertson, NATO Operations in the Balkans, Canadian Military Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 2000, p. 8.

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the invocation of Article 5 and the support of NATO to the US fight against terrorism, NATOs involvement in Afghanistan was rather limited ruing the first two years following the US intervention in the country. Since 2003 though, NATO assumed great responsibilities in Afghanistan, leading the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which has been responsible for the creation of a secure environment in and around the capital Kabul, in order to allow the UN and the Transitional authority to carry out their duties effectively. The focus on the security threats coming from international terrorism since 2001 does not mean that NATO has meanwhile abandoned its other objectives; on the contrary. The humanitarian component of the Alliance has been constantly growing stronger, confirming the argument that human security, both the broad and narrow approach, has become an underlying principle for many NATO policies. In October 2005 NATO, responding to a call for help from Pakistan following a devastating earthquake, deployed one of NATOs biggest humanitarian relief operations, which lasted for five months and delivered more than 3,500 tomes of supplies.57 Also in 2005, NATO through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre provided humanitarian assistance to the US in response to the cataclysmic consequences of hurricane Katrina. The Partnership for Peace framework, under the supervision of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), continues to bring together the currently twenty eight NATO members with other nations, contributing to the stability and security of a region that spans from North-West Europe to Central Asia.58 Moreover, following its commitments to contribute in crisis management, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations outside the Euro-Atlantic region, NATO is supporting the African Union in its peacekeeping operations. Since 2007, the Alliance assists the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by providing airlift to the Unions peacekeepers, while since June 2005 NATO had been providing substantial support to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), by providing air transport and training to personnel.59 Conclusions The deep and unexpected structural changes that followed the end of the Cold War transformed radically the international and European strategic environment. Being deprived

NATO, NATO Operations and Missions, available online at 58 Currently in the Partnership for Peace programme participate twenty two non-NATO members: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyz Republic, Malta, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. NATO, Partner Countries, available online at 59 Ibid.

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suddenly of its raison dtre NATO was forced to transform in order to survive in the emerging strategic environment, and undoubtedly the most important element of this transformation was the adaptation of a broader understanding of security. NATOs conceptual adaptation to the post-Cold War era coincided timely with the development of a new understanding of security, human security, as a result of a wider debate which included both scholars and policy makers. The concept of human security was developed as a response to the inadequacy of the traditional, state-centric understanding of security to acknowledge and address successfully the new security threats that emerged following the end of the Cold War. Over time, there were two different approaches to human security developed; a broad and a narrow one, each one having its own supporters. However, both approaches share a common fundamental understanding: the need to protect human individuals against a wide range of threats. In this paper I have shown that NATOs evolving understanding of security has been deeply influenced by the development of this new conceptualisation of security. Indeed, despite the fact that human security has not been mentioned explicitly in any of the Strategic Concepts developed by NATO since 1989 its principles and objectives have been repeatedly mentioned and pursued by the Alliance since the early 1990s. The following table presents briefly the main points of NATOs strategic transformation, in relation to its understanding of security, based on the three core questions for every security definition; security of whom? Security from what? and security with what means? The first column represents the traditional state-centric understanding of security that was dominant in NATOs strategic concept during the Cold War. Based on this understanding, the main objects of security were the member states of the Alliance. The security threats acknowledged were limited to potential military attacks of the Soviet Union and its allies against the territorial integrity and the political independence of the NATO members, and the means for providing security was the maximisation of NATOs military conventional and nuclear capabilities. The second column, describes the basic points presented by the 1991 Strategic Concept of NATO, based on a broader understanding of security. At this stage, the objects of security are no longer only the members of the Alliance, but also their neighbouring countries; based on the understanding that the security of the two is inseparably connected. Also, the justifications given for NATOs involvement in the Bosnian war demonstrated that human individuals have possibly started to be considered as objects of security. Following, the 1991 Strategic Concept expands the sources of threats to security with references to regional instability and conflict, ethnic and religious rivalries,

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WMD and others. Consequently, the available means for providing security also expanded, so as to include not only military power, but also political means, dialogue and cooperation.

North Atlantic Treaty (1949) Security of whom? Member-states (territory and political independence)

Strategic Concept (1991) Member-states, Neighbouring countries, (Human individuals?)

Strategic Concept (1999) Member-states, Neighbouring countries, Human individuals

New Strategic Concept ? Member-states, Neighbouring and other states, Human individuals ?

Regional instability, Security from what? Military attacks from other states (USSR and allies) Ethnic and Religious Conflict, Disruption of flow of vital resources, WMD, Terrorism Political means, Dialogue and Security with what means? Maximum military power (conventional and nuclear weapons) Cooperation, Crisis Management and Prevention, Minimum necessary military power

Regional instability, Ethnic and Religious Conflict, Human Rights abuses, Failed States, WMD, Terrorism Political means, Dialogue and Cooperation, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian Operations, Minimum necessary military power

Int/nal Terrorism, WMD, Human Rights abuses, Failed States, Piracy, Energy Supplies, Climate Change Political means, Dialogue and Cooperation, Peace and Humanitarian Operations, Preemptive use of power(?)

The third column represents the updated version of the 1991 Strategic Concept as this was presented in 1999. The significant innovation is regarding the objects of security that undoubtedly include now all the human individuals, given that the sources of security threats include massive abuses of human rights and individual liberties. The elevation of humans to objects of security of equal importance to the states is the most basic principle of human

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security, and shows clearly the influence of human security on NATOs strategic transformation. Finally the last column describes an early prediction regarding the anticipated Strategic Concept of NATO, which is due to be published by the end of 2010. During the Summit in Strasburg/Kehl, in April 2009, the Heads of State and Government decided that the Alliance should update its strategic concept, which is in place since 1999, in order to be able to address more effectively the challenges that constantly emerge from the current, complex strategic environment. The Group of Experts, that has been created in order to do the ground work preparing the basis for the new strategic concept, is chaired by the former US Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright, and needs to address carefully old as well as new security threats altogether; including international terrorism, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, instability caused by failed states, piracy, energy supplies and disruptions in their flow, and climate change. However, despite the numerous uncertainties regarding the provisions of the updated strategic concept, some arguments can be safely made in advance. In this highly globalised environment, NATO is becoming an indispensable provider of stability and security, not only for the Euro-Atlantic region which has been traditionally the main focal point of the Alliances attention, but also for parts of the world further away. The persistence of the Alliance and its ability to transform and adapt to different strategic realities provides serious ground for optimism regarding the future of NATO in the following decades as a highly effective forum of both transatlantic and international cooperation on a very wide array of security related issues. Finally, the broad understanding of security, which was first adopted by NATO right after the end of the Cold War, has been constantly expanding regarding the objects of, the threats to, and the means for security. Along this process, it has incorporated elements of a very particular understanding to security, namely human security, and this development has increased significantly the ability of NATO to deal with many of the complex security situations of the post-Cold War era. Thus, drawing from the experiences of the last twenty years, it can be argued that NATO will continue to uphold this particular human-security-influenced understanding of security for the years to come.