Islamabad, 2 March 2022 (TDI): The tenet of collective defence is the core of NATO’s founding treaty and is enshrined in Article 5. It remains a distinctive principle committing its members to protect each other; binding them together, and developing a sense of solidarity within the Alliance.

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Collective defense denotes that an attack against one Ally will be considered as an attack against all Allies. NATO has forces on active duty as contribution to the Alliance’s collective defence endeavours on a permanent basis.

Article 5: Principle of providing assistance

By invoking Article 5, the Allies can assist in any form deemed necessary to respond to a situation. The Article puts an individual obligation on each Ally, thus making each Ally responsible for deciding what it considers necessary in the respective circumstances.

The assistance is provided by all the Allies. It is not always military and can rely on the material resources of every country. Accordingly, it is left to the determination of each member state to decide how it might contribute.

In this context, each state will confer with the other members, “to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area”. Restoration and maintenance of the North Atlantic area’s security are paramount.

NATO has only invoked Article 5 once since its establishment after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, against the United States. However, NATO has taken collective defence measures on many occasions. These include in response to the situation in Syria and more recently in response to the Russian attack on Ukraine.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization or Atlantic Alliance

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or Atlantic Alliance, commonly known by its acronym, NATO, is an international political and military organization.

It was established in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II with the aim to guarantee the freedom as well as the security of its members through political and military means.

In 1949, the primary aim of the North Atlantic Treaty was to make an alliance of mutual assistance to counter the Soviet Union. Every member state agreed that Article 5 on collective defence is a key component of the Alliance.

Article 5 states that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.

The North Atlantic Treaty is only 14 articles long. It is one of the shortest documents and has carefully crafted articles that were finalized after several months of discussion and negotiations before it was actually signed.

Text of Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked.

This will be done by taking action forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council.

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Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

This article is complemented by Article 6, which stipulates:

Text of Article 6

“For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

  1. On the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of Turkey or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;

  2. On the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in 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.”