The United Nations considers it secret and, thus, hasn’t published it on its homepage; NATO is pleased to give you a copy upon request; NATO governments know about it; Western mainstream media have hardly mentioned it - - - The Joint Declaration on UN/NATO Secretariat Cooperation that was signed by the Secretary-Generals of the UN and NATO in September this year.
To say the least, this Declaration should have raised a few eyebrows. As a matter of fact, it ought to be impossible for SG Ban Ki-Moon to sign such a document with any military alliance, let alone to do so without the consent of the member states of the United Nations.
We judge it to be high time to stimulate a public debate on UN-NATO co-operation. Frankly, it should have begun when, in January 2007, Ban Ki-Moon visited NATO and stated that: “I am very much assured and encouraged by what NATO has been contributing to peace and security around the world […].We have the same goals, we are committed to work very closely together in the future”. See the source.
The UN Charter's preamble states that war shall be abolished. More specifically, Article 1 states that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means. It is to be feared that a UN Secretary-General who believes that the UN and NATO "have the same goals" will be unable to perform his role as defender of that Charter.
Here is the text of the Declaration for you to see what the UN does not want you to see. After it we - the Board of the Transnational Foundation - raise a few questions of substance that reflect our deep concerns about the ways of the UN at this moment in history when, more than ever, the goal of general and complete disarmament and nuclear abolition, should have the highest priority.
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Annex to DSG (2008)0714 (INV)
Joint Declaration on UN/NATO Secretariat Cooperation
The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, welcoming over a decade of cooperation between the United Nations and NATO in support of the work of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security, and desiring, in the spirit of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, to provide a framework for expanded consultation and cooperation between their respective Secretariats, have agreed to the following:
1. We, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reaffirm our commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security.
2. Our shared experiences have demonstrated the value of effective and efficient coordination between our Organizations. We have developed operational cooperation, for example, in peacekeeping in the Balkans and Afghanistan, where UN-authorized NATO-led operations work alongside UN peace operations. We have also worked together and collectively with other partners in support of regional and sub-regional organizations. In addition, NATO provided assets and personnel to Pakistan in support of UN disaster relief operations in 2005. Our cooperation is guided by the UN Charter, internationally recognized humanitarian principles and guidelines, and consultation with national authorities.
3. Further cooperation will significantly contribute to addressing the threats and challenges to which the international community is called upon to respond. We therefore underscore the importance of establishing a framework for consultation and dialogue and cooperation, including, as appropriate, through regular exchanges and dialogue at senior and working levels on political and operational issues. We also reaffirm our willingness to provide, within our respective mandates and capabilities, assistance to regional and sub-regional organizations, as requested and as appropriate.
4. Understanding that this framework should be flexible and evolving over time, we agree to further develop the cooperation between our organizations on issues of common interest, in, but not limited to, communication and information-sharing, including on issues pertaining to the protection of civilian populations; capacity-building, training and exercises; lessons learned, planning and support for contingencies; and operational coordination and support.
5. Our cooperation will continue to develop in a practical fashion, taking into account each Organizations specific mandate, expertise, procedures and capabilities, so as to contribute to improving international coordination in response to global challenges.
Done in New York on 23 September 2008
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Secretary-General of the United Nations
1. According to the UN Charter, Article 100, the UN Secretary-General is the custodian of the UN's integrity. S/he shall receive no instructions from any state or authority but serve only the UN.
Q: Does this agreement increase the SG’s opportunities to do so and does it strengthen the credibility of that provision in the future?
2. NATO is a nuclear-based military alliance upholding the right to use nuclear weapons as the first response even against a conventional attack.
Q: Is the choice of NATO compatible with Article 1 of the Charter which states that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means? Why have other regional organisations that do work with civilian means - like the OSCE or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - not been offered a similar cooperative status?
3. NATO's Washington Agreement of 1999 aligns itself closely with the UN Charter. However, it no longer refers to the overarching authority of the UN Security Council; rather it brings into the purview of NATO the right to intervene when faced with what NATO calls new risks such as 'environment', 'insufficient reforms', 'uncontrollable movements of large numbers of people' and, most significantly, 'interruption of vital resources'.
Thus, it can be doubted whether NATO still adheres to its own Article 1 which recognizes the supremacy of Article 51 of the UN Charter on member states' right to self-defence.
This UN-NATO Declaration's list and formulations of areas in which UN-NATO co-operation can take place are quite sweeping and general. It should be seen in the light of the seemingly ever-expanding roles NATO deems legitimate for itself.
Q: Given the special status NATO now acquires through this Agreement, how likely is it that the UN SG and Security Council - where 3 of the 5 permanent seats are held by NATO members - will:
a) Be able to uphold the necessary distinctions between NATO actions and UN actions?
b) Bring up possible future breaches of international law by NATO? and
c) Be able, as UN members, to work credibly for general and complete disarmament and nuclear abolition?
4: The two UN & NATO SGs seem to sign as partners of equal standing. The wording of the agreement is such that NATO would be free to take actions as it wishes, even to adopt measures of aggressive warfare. Statements at recent Munich NATO conferences seem to confirm this.
Q: NATO must be held accountable to the UN Charter and other international law norms. Does this Declaration make that clear? To whom will NATO be accountable?
5. NATO bombed Serbia/Kosovo in 1999 without a UN Security Council mandate.
Q: Independent of the views one may have of that action and given leading NATO members' deficient respect for international law and the UN Charter, is NATO an appropriate organization to be rewarded by the UN with such special status?
6. It is mentioned that the NATO-UN Agreement is rooted in the actions taken during the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina. If anything, however, that crisis showed that peace-keeping and peace-enforcement cannot be mixed and that UN member states had given the UN far too few resources to succeed with their mandate.
Q: Is this Agreement signaling that the members of the UN and NATO consider the handling of Bosnia a model and will continue with the same mix of roles and unbalanced resource allocations?
7. NATO countries are, these very months, engaged in various very sensitive issues - sensitive also among the Security Council members - such as the Georgia Crisis, the Ballistic Missile Defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, further NATO expansion (Georgia & Ukraine) and intensifying problems in Afghanistan, where both organisations are involved.
Q: Is the UN SG's signature an example of good timing and will he, in the light of the above, now submit the Declaration to the Security Council for discussion and approval?
8. The UN has 192 members. NATO has 26 member states but stands for over 70% of the world's military expenditures.
Q: Does the SG expect that the majority of the UN member states will support this agreement between the secretariats of the United Nations and a military alliance?
9. The spirit of the UN is supposed to be dialogue, worldwide consultation and the common good of humankind. Yet this Agreement has been kept secret and not posted on the UN homepage.
Q: Is the Agreement itself and the way it has been concluded between two individuals not likely to give the world the impression that this UN HQ is now a place for deals kept in the dark and, thus, further undermine the hopes shared by citizens around the world for democracy and transparency?
The Board of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF:
Vicky Samantha Rossi
Hans von Sponeck
December 3, 2008