NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance which is formed from the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4th April 1949 in Washington, D.C. It consists of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The NATO headquarters are located at Brussels, Belgium
NATO has added new members 7 times since first forming in 1949 (with the last 2 in 2009). NATO now comprises of 28 members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
NATO uses the concept of collective defense, in which participant states commit support in defense of a member state if it is attacked by another state outside the organization. However, the support need not be military action against aggressors
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. Greece and Turkey entered the alliance in 1952, West Germany (now Germany) entered in 1955, and Spain joined in 1982. In 1999 the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined five years later, bringing the membership to 26. NATO maintains headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
The treaty, one of the major Western countermeasures against the threat of aggression by the Soviet Union (USSR) during the cold war, was aimed at safeguarding the freedom of the North Atlantic community. Cold war is a term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc between 1945 and 1991. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and capitalist democracy.
Considering an armed attack on any member an attack against all, the treaty provided for collective self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The treaty was also designed to encourage political, economic, and social cooperation. The organization was reorganized and centralized in 1952, and has undergone subsequent reorganizations.
In forming NATO, each member country agreed to treat an attack on any other member as an attack on itself. Militarily, the United States was, and still is, the alliance's most powerful member, in part because of its large supply of nuclear weapons. The NATO countries believed that the Soviet Union would not attack Western Europe if Soviet leaders thought such an attack would trigger war with the United States. NATO's policy is known as deterrence because it is designed to deter (discourage) an attack.
On the 17 March 1948, Treaty of Brussels was signed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, with United Kingdom playing the role of the precursor of the treaty. The treaty, together with the soviet of Berlin Blockage creates a western European union’s defence organization in September 1948. After which, many talks are held almost immediately, talking about the new military alliance. This then come to a conclusion that the involvement of United States would help to counter the military power of the USSR. On the 4 April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington. The strength of NATO was strengthen in 18 to 20 december 1962 after the United States and Britain agreed to contribute their strategic nuclear forces to it. But soon, on 10 March 1966, France pulls out it’s forces from NATO integrated military structure. After that, whenever there is a fight between countries, NATO would step in to solve the problems to help keep international peace.
In the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, NATO's role in world affairs changed, and U.S. forces in Europe were gradually reduced. NATO has increasingly concentrated on extending security and stability throughout Europe, and on peacekeeping efforts in Europe and elsewhere.
NATO was formed when The North Atlantic Treaty was signed to reaffirm their faith in the aim of the Charter of the United Nations as they desire to live in peace with all people and all governments from the worldwide countries. They have decided to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their people, which is also known as the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They aim to promote stability in North Atlantic area and the well-being of the citizen thus they have concluded that they have to unite their efforts so as to preserve peace and security.
Figure 1:The NATO flag with all the flags of the participating countries.
How Are Decisions Made in NATO?
All NATO decisions are made by the member countries on the basis of consensus. The North Atlantic Council, or NAC, is the main decision-making body in NATO, made up of permanent representatives from each member country which meets regularly in discussion. The NAC also consults with Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, and Defense Ministers and establishes committees to provide advice on military policy and strategy to NATO's political leaders.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) currently leads the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, aiding the new Afghan government to maintain security in the area.  NATO took command of the force in August of 2003 and is ultimately governed by its 28 member states.
The ISAF comprise of 9,700 troops from 37 NATO and non-NATO countries, with western countries like US, Germany, etc providing most of the troops. ISAF’s assists the Afghan government in the establishment of a secure and stable environment. SAF forces conducts security and stability operations throughout the country together with the Afghan National Security Forces and are directly involved in the development of the Afghan National Army through mentoring, training and equipping.
With alliance between countries, ISAF is able to successfully execute the peacekeeping operations. Examples include patrols, building up security of country, aiding reconstruction, operating the airport and participating in the disarmament of former combatants.
NATO Council also helps outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative (generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador.)
The Permanent Members forms the North Atlantic Council (NAC). They have effective governance authorities in decision making in NATO. The meeting sometimes involves Foreign ministers, Defence Ministers or Heads of State or Government (HOSG). Decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken during these meetings. With all these foreign ministers helping in the decision making, it allows the decisions to be more beneficial for the country.
In overall, NATO has been keeping a close eye on the policies implemented and constantly improvising them in order to achieve its goal of sustaining peace and security in their targeted zone. Hence, it contributes to the effectiveness of international peacekeeping.
NATO is effective in international peacekeeping from its fruitful efforts in bringing and improving security in different areas. In a certain case, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under NATO helped to improve security in Gereshk in Central Helmand. Example: the opening up of the main route from Gereshk to Lashkar Gah.
In addition, ISAF Forces managed to push back Taliban in Southern Nad 'Ali. The operation began with a move by the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Jackal vehicles to pull insurgents away from the intended new patrol base areas. This was followed by a push at dawn by infantry troops to seize the new patrol base locations and establish hasty defensive positions to repel any Taliban attacks until the new compounds had been cleared of possible improvised explosive devices. Based on these examples, it is rather apparent that NATO is successful in international peacekeeping.