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Home / Nato Parliamentary Assembly

Nato Parliamentary Assembly

Established in 1955, as an annual conference for NATO parliamentarians, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NPA) was not initiated by NATO executives, but as a separate creation of NATO legislators, on the mid-1950s initiative of the Atlantic Federalists (specifically the Atlantic Union Committee). Originally a product of only the US Congress and the Canadian and British parliaments, the NPA, then titled the NATO Parliamentarians’ Conference, was intended to create a channel for democratization and federalization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The NPA took its first step towards its current relationship with NATO through a 1967 NAC resolution, recognizing the importance of the service provided by the Parliamentarians and recommending the establishment of an informal relationship between the two bodies. Today, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is intended to act as a link between domestic governments, national parliaments, and NATO decision making structures, particularly the North Atlantic Council. The NPA is comprised of representatives from all 28 member-countries, totalling 248 delegates. Additionally, 16 non-member countries have been granted associate member parliamentary status. Not only does this body provide a connection between the NAC and national political interests, the NPA also serves as a transatlantic link between North American and European parliamentarians, initiating an annual Transatlantic Parliamentary form in 2001.

Although this parliamentary body is completely separate from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the NPA frequently communicates with the institution through the crafting of Assembly Recommendations and Resolutions submitted to national governments, parliaments, and the NATO Secretary General. Unlike the decision making process in at the NAC, procedures in the NPA include voting policies based on the concept of simple majority. This diplomatic link between the international institution and the domestic political atmosphere reinforces the concept that organizational policies and actions are directly related to national politics and interests of NATO-member states.

NPA delegates are nominated by member-state parliaments based on their national procedures, on the basis of party representation, in an attempt to form a closer connection between popularly elected officials at the domestic political level and the decision making process at the institutional level. Since 1989, the role of the NPA has expanded to include a broader commitment to coordination with national parliaments of both member and non-member states throughout the European continent. Since the end of the Cold War the Assembly has focused on increasing dialogue and cooperation with parliamentary bodies of nations not necessarily seeking NATO membership; most notably agreements on working relationships between the NPA and both the Russian Federal Assembly and the Ukrainian Rada. In addition, the Parliamentary Assembly is charged with providing direct assistance to parliamentary bodies of nations currently seeking NATO membership. Through frequent consultative meetings and seminars, the NPA attempts to provide assistance to national legislative bodies in the pursuit of parliamentary practices and mechanisms seeking to promote effective democratic control of national military actions and policies. For example, the Rose-Roth program, initiated in 1990, offers a mechanism for increased discourse between parliamentary bodies of Central and Eastern European and NPA. The longstanding relationship between the North Atlantic Council and the NPA is intended as a constant reminder that the decisions reached in the NAC are effectively dependent on political support provided by the democratically elected parliaments of NATO member countries.

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