The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in Washington on 4 April 1949. Made up of nations from North America and Europe, 12 independent countries originally signed the North Atlantic Treaty. The treaty's purpose was to commit each signatory country to the peace and security of all other members. A total of 28 countries are now members.
Since the Cold War ended, the structure of the treaty has been redesigned. The emphasis is now maintaining peace through the treaty's political and military guidelines. Other countries who are not members of NATO also cooperate, although sometimes unsuccessfully, with treaty guidelines. Apart from peacekeeping between countries and deterring war, NATO also acts in the area of crisis management. NATO has guidelines set out in order to prevent conflict between countries and to help resolve any crisis.
Examples of the treaty in action include the reversal of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. When hundreds of thousands of Kosovan people fled their country in 1999 due to repression by the government, they were left homeless. NATO helped the refugees return safely to their homeland. NATO also assisted in rebuilding homes and lives in Kosovo. They were also instrumental in developing a democratic society in which the refugees should be able to live in peace.
Russian relations are also a top issue for NATO. The establishment and maintenance of peaceful relations with the Ukraine and throughout Central and Eastern Europe are a high priority. The Alliance, as the group of members is known, has been achieving these peace-keeping goals for over 50 years.
Since World War II, the treaty has been the only security organization to combine the United Stated and Canada with Europe. After the war ended, Europe was able to rebuild itself thanks to the written agreement by NATO. The treaty ensures that any threat of war to Europe is also seen as a threat to the United States.
The NATO treaty ensured that each country would reciprocate these understandings. Political solidarity was thus obtained by all members of NATO. Each country promised to take a share in the others' security.
In the years since the treaty was signed, other initiatives have been formed as a result of NATO. In 1991, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was formed, and in 1994, the Partnership for Peace (PFP) took place. In 1997, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) built new structures of alliance and agreement between other countries.