Did you know that more than 50 years after the publication of the Harmel Report (1967), the vision of the Belgian Pierre Harmel is still relevant to NATO?
In 1967, the North Atlantic Council met to approve the landmark document that introduced the notion of deterrence and defence. This set the tone for NATO's first steps towards a cooperative approach to security issues.
For seven years in a row (1966-1972), Pierre Harmel would embody Belgium's foreign policy and develop an original approach on the international stage, as a mediator between two superpowers. The Harmel report gave a new impetus to the organisation at a time when its role was being questioned. It took the stance that the international environment had changed since 1949. By pursuing a two-pronged policy in both the military and political arenas, NATO broadened its approach to security and the Alliance recognised the importance of dialogue.
“The Harmel report argued that NATO's first function was to maintain adequate military strength and political solidarity to deter aggression and other forms of pressure and to defend the territory of member countries” (source 1).
A few decades later, the security challenges faced at the time look different than those faced today. Yet the report still has an impact on the Alliance's strategic thinking. At this very moment, an exercise is going on within the organisation to prepare it for the challenges of the coming years, called NATO2030. NATO's greatest success is the Alliance's ability to adapt: 50 years ago, this was partly due to the Harmel report; today, through the strategic exercise NATO2030, which is based on the Harmel report among other things.