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C - North Atlantic Council

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C - North Atlantic Council

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The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the principal body and the highest authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; its Terms of Reference are constituted by Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty: "The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organized as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary: in particular it shall establish immediately a Defence Committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5."Originally made up of the Foreign Ministers, its composition was modified in 1951 to include Defence and Finance Ministers. The Council held nine sessions [C1 to C9] between September 1949 and February 1952, when it was transformed into its current form as a permanent body. At the time Council noted that "In order to function in permanent session with effective powers of decision, each member government should appoint a Permanent Representative who should represent his Government on the Council when its Ministerial Representatives are not present." In April 1952 the permanent headquarters of the Council were transferred to Paris and in 1967 to Brussels.From May 1950 to the February 1952 reorganization, the Council's directives were executed by a permanent body, the North Atlantic Council Deputies (D). The Council Deputies were formally abolished on the 5th April 1952.The Presidency of the Council (Présidence d'honneur) is entrusted to one of the Foreign Ministers according to an annual rotation following the English alphabetical order of the member nations. The Secretary General chairs the Council in permanent session and since 1957 in Ministerial session. The Council in permanent session meets at least once a week and in Ministerial session in the spring and in December at NATO HQ.Regardless of the level at which it meets – Permanent Representatives, Foreign Ministers, Heads of State or Government – the decisions of the Council have equal validity. Decisions are taken on the basis of unanimity and no voting takes place.In January 1964 the Council decided that the regular weekly meeting should begin in restricted session with a standing item "Statements on Political Subjects." This decision was based on the desire to give impetus to more frequent and thorough political consultation. No official record of these discussions are issued. Private meetings of Permanent Representatives are also held when necessary and no official record of these meetings is issued.

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