The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the "principal political decision-making body" of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), consisting of Permanent Representatives from its member countries.1 It was established by Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty and it is the only body in NATO that derives its authority explicitly from the Treaty.
Powers and duties
The North Atlantic Treaty gave the NAC the power to set up subsidiary bodies for various policy functions, including a defense committee to implement other parts of the treaty. The NAC can be held at the Permanent Representative Level (PermReps), or can be composed of member states' Ministers of State, Defense, or Heads of Government. The NAC has the same powers regardless of the formation it meets under. The NAC meets twice a week, every Tuesday, for an informal lunch discussion, and every Wednesday for a decision-taking session. Usually, meetings occur amongst the Permanent Representatives who are the senior permanent member of each delegation and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank).
The 28 members of NATO have diplomatic missions to organization through embassies in Belgium. The meetings of the NAC are chaired by the Secretary General and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the NAC table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.