More flexible, less coherent

NATO after Lisbon

Timo Noetzel*, Benjamin Schreer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


At its 2010 Lisbon summit, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took significant steps towards becoming a modern alliance. In the face of a changing security environment and divergent strategic interests among 28 members, NATO adapted its strategic concept and reformed its way of formulating strategy. The new strategic concept advances conflict management as a core task for the alliance. In combination with a greater emphasis on developing partnerships, NATO conceptually strengthened its profile as a global security actor. The summit also reflected a new approach to formulating NATO strategy by providing the Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen with a strong role in setting the strategic agenda. Indeed, he assumed a more supranational function rather than acting as a representative of all allies. But as the Libya operation demonstrates, NATO will struggle to maintain cohesion in an increasingly 'polycentric' alliance. While the focus on conflict management will make the alliance more flexible, it will also become a less coherent global security actor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-33
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

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