Select Committee on Defence Seventh Report


162. NATO is the instrument by which security was preserved during the period of the Cold War. It developed a range of capabilities and mechanisms which have proved to be uniquely valuable in the post-Cold War world. These capabilities mean that NATO stands apart from all other security organisations as an effective military Alliance.

163. NATO has come a long way since the Cold War and has established roles in peace-keeping, promoting interoperability, and advancing security within and beyond Europe which are regarded as making a major contribution to the preservation of peace and stability in the world. The challenge now, which must be confronted directly at Prague, is for NATO to transform itself again, into an organisation which is relevant and can contribute to the 21st century security context and the post-11 September world. We believe NATO has the potential to meet this challenge.

164. Twelve months ago, it looked as if the Prague Summit would look only at enlargement, the outcome of which was itself uncertain. Now it has the potential to be one of the most significant events in NATO's history. In this Report we have highlighted the many issues which it is crucial for the member states to resolve at Prague.

165. In particular, we look to the Prague Summit to take a decisive step in articulating NATO's future roles and its place in the dynamic structure of European security. This should involve a clear and specific assessment of what the implications of extensive further enlargement, and enhanced partnership, will be. The Prague Summit should also make clear how long-acknowledged deficiencies in military capabilities within the Alliance can be made good. Not least, NATO command and administrative reform is a prerequisite to the successful achievement of all these objectives and we look to the Prague Summit to address internal reform with urgency and commitment.

166. We await the outcome of the Summit with great interest and intend to comment again on the implications for the future of NATO of the decisions taken there. It may be that future historians will describe Prague as a pivotal moment: when NATO found a new role, or when it failed to and began a decline into ineffectiveness. We believe it can and must be the former. But to ensure NATO's future, important and difficult decisions will need to be taken at Prague—and delivered on subsequently.

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Prepared 31 July 2002