Last updated: 04-Oct-2006 14:02 NATO Topics

NATO Summit Meetings

North Atlantic Council
List of all Summit meetings

NATO summit meetings provide periodic opportunities for Heads of State and Government of member countries to evaluate and provide strategic direction for Alliance activities.

These are not regular meetings, but rather important junctures in the Alliance’s decision-making process. Summits have been used to introduce new policy, invite new members into the Alliance, launch major new initiatives and build partnerships with non-NATO countries.

From the founding of NATO in 1949 until today there have been twenty NATO summits. The next summit meeting will be held in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006.

What does this mean in practice?

Summit meetings are occasions for the North Atlantic Council (NAC) – the Alliance’s principal decision-making body - to meet at its highest level, that of Heads of State and Government.

How and when?

Summits are convened upon approval by the NAC at the level of Permanent Representatives (or Ambassadors) or Foreign and Defense Ministers.

How did it evolve?

The first meeting of what would become NATO Heads of State and Government was held in Washington in 1949 where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. The first summit meeting was held six years later, in Paris in 1957, to address the recommendations of the Report of the Committee of the Three on Non-Military Cooperation in NATO, the so-called report of the “Three Wise Men.”

Which NATO bodies have a central role?

NATO summit meetings are centred on the activities of the NAC, the senior decision-making body of NATO. As with all meetings of the NAC, the Secretary General chairs the meetings and plays an important role in coordination and deliberations, as well as acting as the principal spokesman of the Alliance.