May 17, 2022
NATO (English North Atlantic Treaty Organization "Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty" or North Atlantic Pact Organization), also known in German as the Atlantic Alliance or as the North Atlantic Pact (French OTAN - Organization du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord), is a defensive alliance of 30 European and North American member states, which serves to jointly protect their own territories and also pursues the goal of global political security and stability. The basis of NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty according to Article 51 of the UN Charter. In its preamble, the members commit themselves to peace, democracy, freedom and the rule of law. According to the German Federal Ministry of Defence, NATO sees itself as a “community of values of free democratic states”. As an international organization without sovereignty, its member states retain full sovereignty and independence. NATO headquarters have been in Brussels since 1967. It is home to the North Atlantic Council, the main organ of NATO, and its immediate subordinate bodies: the International Staff (IS) and the International Military Staff (IMS). The two most important military headquarters are the ACO (also known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe/SHAPE for historical and legal reasons) in Casteau near Mons, Belgium, and the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, USA. The North Atlantic Pact was signed on April 4, 1949 as part of the US containment policy against the Soviet Union. Initially limited to 20 years, it was extended indefinitely in 1969 due to the ongoing Cold War. The NATO headquarters were initially in London and from 1952 in Paris. Because of France's withdrawal from the military integration of the alliance, the headquarters were moved to Brussels in 1967.