Today in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed by twelve states establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. These member states, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxemborg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States, signed the treaty creating a “political and military alliance whose primary goals are the collective defense of its members and the maintenance of democratic peace in the North Atlantic area.” NATO currently consists of 28 independent member countries.
The current leader of NATO is Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Rasmussen took over in July of 2009. The secretary general is responsible “for coordinating the alliance’s work, leading NATO’s staff and chairing the North Atlantic Council.” This council is the top political governing body and “oversees the political and military process relating to security issues affecting the whole alliance.”
NATO’s website provides a great set of research guides on a variety of topics. These guides can be used to start research on anything from “Women, Peace and Security” to “Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.” NATO also has a multimedia library, unfortunately it is located in Brussels. Finally, if you are interested in learning more about NATO’s history and objectives, here are some resources recommended by the organization. The first, “NATO: The First Five Years” is considered the first NATO handbook and is digitized here. Another recommended book is “A History of NATO: The First Fifty Years.” Finally, “The Long Entanglement: NATO’s First Fifty Years” addresses NATO’s relationship with the United States.