Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 19, 2012 11:30 ET

Minister MacKay and Minister Baird Attend the NATO Joint Foreign and Defence Ministers Meeting in Brussels

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 19, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, participated in a joint meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Foreign and Defence Ministers on April 18-19, in Brussels, Belgium.

The NATO Joint Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting focused on a wide range of issues, including NATO operations, NATO reform, and efforts to deliver on defence capabilities for the Alliance. These discussions are particularly important as Allies make final preparations for the NATO Summit in Chicago, to be held on May 20-21, 2012.

"Canada is a leader in the NATO alliance and the challenging work of our men and women in uniform has enhanced Canada's reputation for making a real difference wherever we go. Our government is committed to making key decisions that ensure the Canadian Forces have the tools they need to do the important work asked of them," said Minister MacKay. "As a founding member of this alliance, it remains a cornerstone of Canada's international and defence policy."

"The NATO Alliance plays a key role in Canadian security and defence policy. The success of our operation in Libya, under the leadership of LGen Charles Bouchard demonstrates Canada's ability to lead," said Baird. "We will continue to work with our allies to face common challenges and global threats."

The NATO Joint Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting advanced ongoing work on issues that are central to the success of the Alliance. These issues include: NATO's engagement in Afghanistan towards 2014 and beyond, in addition to other joint operations, important reform efforts aimed at ensuring the Alliance can remain adaptable, deployable and successful on operations, and discussions aimed at maintaining capabilities.

Canada's priority is to ensure that the Alliance remains modern, flexible and agile and to face the threats of today and in the future. This goal drives all our efforts on NATO transformation, reform and partnerships with non-NATO nations.

For more information on Canada's participation in NATO, please refer to:


Canada - North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defence Relations

Canada is a leader in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is the world's leading political-military alliance, a major contributor to international security, and a cornerstone of Canadian security and defence policy.

The Canadian Forces (CF) are major contributors to NATO operations providing modern, deployable equipment and highly trained personnel. Canada's recent and on-going contributions to NATO, including the service and sacrifices of the CF and civilians in Afghanistan, and its Air mission over the skies of Libya, are clear demonstrations of Canada's commitment to, and leadership in, NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty

NATO is the transatlantic organization that permanently ties the defence and security of Europe to that of North America. Established in 1949 as a collective defence Alliance, NATO has retained this original purpose, while evolving since the end of the Cold War into the primary transatlantic forum for political and security consultations and cooperation. September 12th, 2001, was the first time the Alliance invoked Article 5 of the treaty which pledges mutual support to one another through collective defence, "an armed attacked against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all".

NATO's mission is to "safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of [its] peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law" (Preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty). NATO's fundamental and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. Today, the Alliance remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world. NATO's strategic concept identifies three core tasks: 1) collective defence, 2) crisis management, and 3) cooperative security.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has played a key role in realising the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace through successive enlargement rounds. More broadly, NATO promotes democratic and defence reforms throughout the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond, thanks to its broad partnership network. As such, NATO is an essential component of Canada's security and defence posture.

Currently, NATO engages with over 40 countries through various partnership arrangements, including the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. In addition to its member nations and Partners, NATO also cooperates with a number of international organizations, such as the United Nations, European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Structure of NATO

NATO Headquarters is the political and administrative centre of the Alliance and the permanent home of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's senior political decision-making body. NATO Headquarters is located in Brussels, Belgium, and is home to national delegations of the 28 member nations and to liaison offices or diplomatic missions of partner countries.

The NATO Secretary General is the Alliance's top international civil servant. The Secretary General is responsible for steering the process of consultation and decision-making in the Alliance and ensuring that decisions are implemented. The Secretary General is also NATO's chief spokesperson and the head of the Organization's International Staff.

National delegations such as Canada's consist of officials who represent their country on different NATO committees. Staff at NATO Headquarters includes civilian and military liaison officers, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff, drawn from serving members of the armed forces of member states.

Canada's representation in NATO

Canada is represented across NATO's organization by the Permanent Representative of Canada on the North Atlantic Council, in its civilian and military structures, organizations and agencies, as well as NATO's highest decision-making body. Canada is also represented by the Canadian Military Representative, who represents the Chief of the Defence Staff on the Military Committee. The North Atlantic Council meets regularly at the level of Heads of State and Government, or Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence. NATO's Chiefs of Defence also hold periodic meetings, normally in advance of high-level meetings of the North Atlantic Council.

Recent activity

Canada's priority in its relations with NATO is to ensure that the Alliance remains modern, flexible and agile, to face the threats of today and in the future. This goal drives Canada's participation in NATO decision-making bodies and its efforts on NATO transformation, reform and partnerships with non-NATO nations.

The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, has represented Canada at a number of recent ministerial meetings - opportunities for Allies to discuss and take decisions on pressing defence and security issues. Activities in the recent past include:

  • NATO Defence Ministerial, February 2-3, 2012 - Discussions focused on NATO operations and NATO reform in a time of fiscal austerity across the Alliance.
  • NATO Foreign Ministerial, December 7-8, 2011 - Minister MacKay represented Canada in discussions on a range of issues, such as the international mission in Afghanistan, and lessons learned from Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in Libya, where Canada was a leading nation in protecting civilians from the Gaddafi regime.
  • NATO Defence Ministerial, October 5-6, 2011 - Discussions centred on NATO operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Libya. Other topics included the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, and ongoing reform and transformation of the Alliance.
  • NATO Defence Ministerial, June 8-9, 2011 - Discussions focused on NATO's mission in support of the international community's objectives in Libya. Other topics included the reform of NATO's command structure and its various agencies.
  • NATO Defence Ministerial, March 10-11, 2011 - Humanitarian response to the crisis in Libya was the main focus. Allies also discussed implementation of the new Strategic Concept and outcomes from the NATO Summit held in Lisbon in 2010.

Canada in NATO Operations

Canada has contributed to every NATO mission since the founding of the Alliance. Importantly, Canada has been a strong contributor to NATO operations having contributed personnel and equipment to major combat and crisis management operations in Afghanistan, the Balkans and to respond to the crisis in Libya. Canada shares its Allies' determination to face common threats and challenges together for which NATO has proven to be an invaluable tool.

For more details on Canadians international operations, please go to:

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