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75 years: NATO is founded

Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 4th April, 2024 1 min read

75 years: NATO is founded

Today (04/04/2024) marks 75 years since The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded.

NATO is a military alliance between 32 member states, including 30 European countries and two North American countries. It is often said that NATO was founded to protect against the Soviet Union, but it was established for three broader purposes:

  • Deterring Soviet expansionism
  • Forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent
  • Encouraging European political integration

NATO was officially founded on 4 April 1949 when the 12 founding members signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington D.C. The treaty centres upon the principle of collective defence i.e. members are committed to protecting each other. Yet the language in the treaty is relatively flexible, meaning that each NATO member can decide what action to take following a NATO ally being attacked. Members are not required to respond with military force and can instead opt for measures such as supplying military equipment or imposing sanctions. 

If you are interested in exploring primary source material relating to the founding of NATO, take a look at British Online Archives’ collection Establishing the Post-War International Order, 1944–1961

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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