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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as its name suggests is only made up of member states found in the northern hemisphere of the world. Initially, it was created more than 70-years-ago to combat the threat of post World War 2 expansion by the Soviet Union, which is largely why today the majority of its members are European.
Although NATO may not include any members which are from outside the northern hemisphere it is placing increased importance on its links with global partners.
One of the ways the alliance is doing so is through working with what it calls its “partners across the globe” or “global partners”.
NATO has nine global partners in total which it engages with on an individual basis. They are:
- The Republic of Korea,
- New Zealand
At the 2021 NATO Brussels summit leaders from member nations agreed to the military alliance’s 2030 agenda.
NATO said the agenda “seeks to strengthen” its “global cooperation with like-minded partners”.
The alliance hopes doing so will help to defend the “rules-based international order and institutions, to set international norms and standards in space and in cyberspace, and on new technologies and global arms control”.
Some global partners participate in NATO’s military operations, while many have benefited from its expertise in areas such as building defence capacity, training and education.
Since 2016, NATO has increasingly engaged politically with its four Asia-Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.
In December 2020 a first meeting at the level of foreign ministers was held to discuss the shift in the global balance of power and the rise of China.
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As a global partner, countries have access to the full range of activities NATO offers to those guided by an Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme.
They work with NATO on a range of common cross-cutting security challenges such as cyber defence, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and resilience.
Currently, NATO is made up of 30 members including the UK, US, Canada and France.
Expansion of the alliance in eastern Europe has caused tension with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months who has previously demanded NATO limit its movements towards Russia.
One of the demands Moscow is seeking for the war in Ukraine to end is for Kyiv to declare its neutrality and never seek to join NATO.
If Ukraine chose to accept Russia’s demand it would become one of a handful of European countries that are not members of the alliance.
Austria, Cyprus, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Sweden are all not currently signed up to the military pact.
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