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Observations on NATO's 2019 London Summit

Tasnia Khan and Janakan Muthukumar, NATO Research Group, December 18, 2019

The 2019 NATO Summit, hosted by the United Kingdom, concluded on December 4, 2019. At the end of the meeting, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization released the London Declaration, a two-page summary of the meeting. The summary noted the outcomes and the priorities of the meeting, which includes resisting Russian aggression and cyber deterrence, a continued focus on the fight against terrorism, and advancing burden sharing among member states.

Regarding Russia, the alliance recognizes the existential threat Russia poses by deploying new intermediate-range missiles. To counter, NATO committed to strengthening the ability to deter and defend with an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities. It also committed to strengthening the ability to prepare for, deter and defend against hybrid tactics and cyber attacks. However, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's remarks and the declaration also reflected NATO's openness to having a dialogue and a constructive relationship with Russia once the state is in a position to make that possible.

On advancing the readiness of forces and expanding the alliance's purview on international security, the member states are committed to the NATO Readiness Initiative and have committed 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat ships, available to NATO by the first week of January. This initiative will also involve advancing military capabilities, strategy and plans across the alliance in line with a 360-degree approach to security.

Regarding burden sharing, the secretary-general reported that this is the fifth year in a row of rising defence investments by the member states and agreed to increase the defence investment continuously according to the Defense Investment Pledge, in line with its 2 percent and 20 percent guidelines.

On contending with terrorism, NATO is committed to set up a new action plan to step up the efforts, particularly in the fight against ISIS. This plan also entails maintaining existing training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To continue to build the capacity of NATO, the member states committed to supporting the Open-Door Policy and recognized New Macedonia as a new ally. It also declared space as its fifth operational domain.

Other issues discussed included the rise of China and the commitment to ensure secure communication, with a particular reference made to 5G advanced wireless technology.

Although NATO member states made some promising pledges at their 2019 meeting, there remain several issues not yet included in their declaration, including climate change, food security, and women and children.

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Tasnia Khan is chair of the NATO Research Group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and a former compliance director for the G7 Research Group and security researcher for the Global Governance Program. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2018, where she studied international relations. Tasnia specializes in global security with a particular interest in the intersection of international relations and artificial intelligence.

Janakan Muthukumar is the lead researcher of the NATO Research Group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Affairs at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. He holds an LL.M in Public International Law from the University of London and a master in human rights and democratization from the University of Sydney, Australia. His research focuses on armed conflicts, collective defence and counterterrorism.

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