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NATO Summits

  • Bill Park
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy book series (STD)

Abstract

In the conduct of diplomatic relations between states, the concept of a ‘summit’ is normally taken to refer to meetings between heads of state and government. Beyond that basic observation, ‘summits’ as diplomatic and political phenomena can take a variety of forms. There may be few participating states, or many. Summits might be held between adversaries or between allies. They might be held relatively regularly, or on an ad hoc or even one-off basis. Summit agendas might leave heads of state and government with a creative role, free to explore the scope for and content of political agreement, or they might be so pre-prepared as to leave heads of state and government with little more than symbolic roles to play. With these differing possibilities in mind, there are a number of introductory observations we can make about summits of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Participants are relatively numerous — sixteen — but vary enormously in size and significance, from the United States to Luxembourg or Iceland. Furthermore, NATO summits take place at the apex of a permanent bureaucracy composed of national and international civil servants provided by allied states keen to display unity. Excessive disarray could appear to undermine the very nature and purpose of the alliance. It might also be added that, although issues of defence and security can have extremely high salience, NATO summit agendas have relatively rarely engaged the passions of the wider public except during those periods when the alliance’s nuclear debate has been at its most intense. As a rule, then, NATO summits produce little drama and few surprises.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Foreign Minister North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council Meeting Summit Meeting 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    NATO Handbook (Brussels, NATO Office of Information, 1992), pp. 23–4. These early passages are otherwise gleaned from The North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Facts and Figures (NATO Information Service, 1989).Google Scholar
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    According to Sir Clive Rose, ‘The 1982 Summit and After: a personal view’, NATO Review, vol. 30, no. 4 (September, 1982), pp. 8–9.Google Scholar
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    Thuysbaert, ‘The Changing Face of Political Consultation’, p. 25. Sir Michael Alexander, himself a British PermRep at the May 1989 summit, confirmed in an interview on 16 February 1994 the intensity of the pressure to come up with a solution to ensure that the summit did not end in disarray.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Park

There are no affiliations available

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