NATO PA weighs inputs to Strategic Concept revamp

07 October 2021

More than 210 parliamentarians from the 30-nation NATO Alliance will lay the foundation of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's contribution to NATO’s next Strategic Concept, which Allied leaders will agree upon at the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid. 

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), institutionally separate from NATO, will be making recommendations for NATO’s revision of the Alliance’s guiding strategic document. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will kick off consultations with the Assembly during Monday’s plenary sitting of the 67th NATO PA Annual Session.

Portugal’s President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament and senior cabinet members as well as UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix will address the Plenary. Some 45 partner legislators will join the Session, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from 8 to 11 October.

“The security environment has shifted fundamentally since the last Strategic Concept was adopted back in 2010,” notes President Gerald E. Connolly (United States) ahead of the NATO PA’s meeting. 

“Russia, China and others seek actively to undermine the rules-based international order […]. And proponents of illiberalism try to weaken our societies from within.” 

President Connolly stresses the importance of a fresh commitment to upholding shared democratic values, which “must be anchored within NATO’s Strategic Concept and, as we have proposed as an Assembly, in an actual Center for Democratic Resilience within NATO.”

Moreover, Allies must draw on the lessons from Afghanistan, notes President Connolly: “We need to reflect critically upon its painful, difficult but necessary end, our engagement over the last 20 years and the lessons it holds for NATO going forward.”

“Allies must confront today’s world of renewed systemic competition together, firmly rooted in transatlantic solidarity,” stresses President Connolly, who has made reinvigorating transatlantic relations a top priority for the Assembly and is leading a large, bipartisan US Congressional delegation in Lisbon.  “In our contributions on NATO’s 70th anniversary and NATO 2030, our Assembly has stressed the importance of enhancing political dialogue and consultation among Allies. In Lisbon, we will discuss concrete ways to do so going forward, from keeping a strong consensus in dealing with Russia’s multifaceted challenge to elaborating our common approach to China and security in the Indo-Pacific.”

Over the last two years, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg has led the NATO 2030 reflection process on how to prepare the Alliance for the future. The nine priorities agreed under NATO 2030 will figure prominently across the discussions in Lisbon – including deeper political consultations, enhancing democratic and societal resilience and preserving NATO’s technological edge. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and resilience of trans-Atlantic societies are also under the microscope during the session, with Vice-Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who headed Portugal’s successful Vaccination Plan Task Force, and GAVI vaccine alliance chair José Manuel Barroso among the speakers.

In the five NATO PA committees, legislators will debate 15 in-depth reports and pore over seven resolutions containing policy recommendations for the Alliance – from NATO adaptation, deterrence and defence spending to its approach to Russia, resilience, arms control and Afghanistan – which members will vote on during Monday’s Plenary Session.

Other topics to be discussed with politicians, experts and military officers include the Iran nuclear programme, developments in the Middle East and North Africa, challenges in Belarus, security in space, climate change and disinformation and bolstering the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

The 2021 Annual Session is the first in-person sitting in almost two years, as the pandemic forced almost all Assembly meetings online. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, some participants unable to join in person will take part remotely. 

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is a unique forum for members of parliament from across the Atlantic Alliance to discuss and influence decisions on Alliance security. The Assembly serves as an essential link between NATO and the parliaments as well as citizens of the NATO nations. It provides greater transparency of NATO policies and fosters better understanding of the Alliance’s objectives and missions among legislators and citizens of the Alliance.

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