Monday, June 17, 2013

Organizational Assessment: Atlantic Treaty Association

I have been interning with the Atlantic Treaty Association. The ATA is an NGO that works closely with NATO to promote the common values and ideals of the Alliance through individual national chapters in over 30 countries. The ATA in Brussels is the General Secretariat of the organization and therefore serves to promote and support its national chapters in a variety of ways. The secretariat helps the chapters in promoting their events and often suggesting projects they may be interested in completing. The office also serves as the main liaison between the chapters and NATO headquarters. A very large component of the ATA mission is to support and foster the youth community interested in international security and defense. The Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) works very closely with ATA.

ATA publishes a monthly newsletter, Atlantic Voices, featuring articles by young academics, professionals, and researchers on current topics in security and defense. I have been lucky enough to help edit and publish the May and June editions of Atlantic Voices and am currently working on a piece that I hope will make it into the July edition, the subject of which is Russia/NATO relations.

With respect to any organizational hiccups ATA encounters, all that I've observed seem relatively minor (i.e. we can’t call Portugal or Spain before 2pm, because no one is in the office) with one exception: some of the chapters in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses have a lot of trouble working to promote NATO ideals because they receive a lot of pressure from their government to do otherwise. Specifically, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new “foreign agent” legislation makes daily operations of the Russian ATA chapter extremely difficult.

Given that it has virtually no interaction or association with the European Union, the closest the ATA gets to European policy is NATO policy. Although, it is hard to consider the two close at all, as the European (and most other non-US) perspective is that NATO is simply a US strong-arm in Europe.


  1. A good post, Cassandra, with some very interesting insights on the dynamics in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the EU/NATO relationship and perceptions of NATO.

    Tell us a bit more about the piece you are working on for the July ATA newsletter -- what is the primary argument or claim that you are making re: Russia/NATO relations?

  2. The piece is more of a journalistic report. I put together a list of questions to pose to the Russian Ambassador to NATO hoping I would get a chance to interview him and write up a report on the Russian perspective of Russia/NATO relations. My questions and request for an interview were sent to his office last Friday and we've yet to hear back. Even if he were to respond with answers to the questions rather than agreeing to an actual interview, I would be ecstatic. However it seems unlikely at this point. The questions touched on many topics such as: Syria, counter-terrorism, war on drugs, missile defense, the arctic and cyber security.

    In addition to this, I've also recently been included in brainstorming sessions regarding how to spur greater international participation from the Polish ATA chapter, where my idea of a weekend workshop of round table discussions and negotiation simulations featuring Polish, NATO and US officials as well as young/new members of the international security community in Poland on the subject of missile defense was very well received.

  3. Excellent -- thanks for the reply, Cassandra, and be sure to let us know if something comes of your interview request with the Russian Ambassador to NATO.