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#34 - JRL 2007-67 - JRL Home
Subject: Nato Charter and the 1999 war
From: Branko Milanovic (bmilanovic@worldbank.org)
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007

Ira Straus writes in today's JRL 2007 No. 66:

"In 1999 it became something of a nationwide slogan among Russians that 'NATO was acting illegally against its own charter' when it intervened in Kosovo. Presumably few of them had ever looked at the NATO Treaty, but they were quite ready to repeat this slogan; I suppose they felt it was the patriotic thing to do. One heard this, not just in 1999 but for years after, from educated Russians, even specialists in international relations and law, who could have quickly seen what nonsense they were talking if they had bothered to check the Treaty."

Well, I felt exactly the same as those "educated Russians" whom Ira criticizes and berates. So, thanks to Google, I found the text of the North Atlantic Treaty. It is mercifully short and can be read at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/treaty.htm

There I find in the Article 5:

"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."

And then the Article 6 where "attack" is defined:

"For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack: on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France (2), on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer; on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of Tropic of Cancer."

Now, could I ask Ira to please point out to me (and perhaps others) which part of these two crucial arrticles (or perhaps another article in the Treaty which I might have overlooked) justified NATO 1999 war on Serbia--according to its own Charter?