Selected sections of the draft ‘Citizens Strategic Concept’

Readers will welcome the following sections of the draft ‘Citizens Strategic Concept’ and others on disaster relief, the building of a sounder relationship with Russia, consultation with civil society and the section on nuclear weapons.

Synthesising non-offensive collective reassurance and human security

NATO will reshape its collective defence posture around the principles of non-offensive collective reassurance and human security.  The protection of all civilians and gender equality will be an integral part of all stages in NATO operations.

8. Collective defence under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty forms the backbone of the Alliance bargain.  But with several of NATO’s easternmost countries seeking concrete security reassurances, pressure is rising to move beyond the ‘virtual’ military presence in some of the new NATO members.  This also requires more realistic thinking as to the limitations of collective defence: military options are an inappropriate response, for example, to cyber attacks and energy disputes.  How then to enhance collective defence and provide concrete security assurances to the eastern front, without further alienating Russia?  Part of the answer lies in changing the terms of the debate with Russia (see Section III) and in identifying appropriate collective security options to deal with the emerging threats of cyber and energy security.

9. However, if additional NATO installations are to be included on the soil of the most recent NATO members, these need to be unambiguously defensive in nature.  NATO will revise its doctrine and seek to significantly restructure the military forces of its Member States for defensive, rather than offensive operations, and to adopt a non-nuclear policy, while still retaining a credible conventional deterrent and the capacity to respond proportionally against an aggressor. 

12. In addition to the growing disutility of military war-fighting solutions to these complex threats and risks, war is itself a dangerous risk-generating social institution to be avoided, rather than chosen. Thus, NATO will seek to address the mismatch in resources that devotes far too much funding to traditional military missions at the expense of the more diverse set of tools needed to address current and future threats (see Section III). In particular, this Strategic Concept recognises the central importance of the funding, practice and prioritisation of conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation practices. 

Decisions over use of force

NATO accepts a moral and legal obligation to exhaust all other means possible before taking up arms, and will use force only in accordance with the UN Charter.  This either means authorised by the UN Security Council or in self-defence (when there is a real, imminent and severe danger and the UN Security Council is unable to act in time).

19. Military force is not an effective tool for solving political problems.  The majority of citizens both within and outside the Alliance understand and share this view.  Force can be justifiable in some circumstances, in domestic law and international law.  The difficult issue is when, and the answer to that often turns on the particularities of each case.  Under the rules of the UN Charter, military force is lawful in just two circumstances: self-defence (when an armed attack has occurred or is imminent) or where the UN Security Council authorises its use.  The nexus of failing states and fears of WMD proliferation led to deeply misguided and even illegal ‘preventive wars’ of alleged self-defence.  

Towards a NATO-Russia Strategic Concept

NATO will seek a more constructive partnership with Russia in which both parties work together to redefine common threats and strengthen mechanisms for preventing, managing and resolving conflicts.

37. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO and Russia have a unique window of opportunity to overcome the Cold War legacy of mistrust and to begin building relations free from exaggerated mutual threat perceptions and better equipped to deal with current and future crises. NATO cooperation with Russia is of the outmost importance to global security.  Russia needs NATO and NATO needs Russia in order to stand up to the common threats and challenges we all face.    Areas for potential cooperation include missile non-proliferation (and possibly defences), energy and cyber-security, counter-narcotics, climate change and the Arctic region. 

Do read the whole document and give feedback to Dr Davis if you can. 

Click here for the draft ‘Citizens Strategic Concept’. If the link does not work, please go to:


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