Four days ago, NATO military committee met with UN Military adviser. Briefings over ongoing activities reaffirmed and restated the joint collaboration between the two entities. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach noted,
“Since 2008, our cooperation has grown significantly. In 2018, we signed a new joint declaration to further enhance our cooperation. Today, we work closely together on Afghanistan and Iraq. And NATO operations are carried out under UN Security Council mandates. NATO has also pledged support for UN peacekeeping operations. There is still more NATO and the UN can do together”
The fact that NATO operations seek approval from the United Nations provides legitimacy and a legal basis for deployment. Tight involvement between the two entities is evidenced by NATO's great support to UN operations including inter alia, logistical support to the African Union's peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan and Somalia.
Some of NATO's top operations abroad have sought and found approval from the UN, including the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. The two entities operate on a "framework of cooperation, which provides non-offensive military cooperation in the realms of tackling corruption, crisis management, military-civil cooperation, anti-mine initiatives and the protection of women and children in conflicts. One might consider, however, if NATO will always seek UN approval for action in the event of a crisis. After all, the Security Council holds a veto, and since a number of members on the council hold geopolitical, strategic interests counter to NATO's inherent objectives one might muse that in the future the two entities come to opposing conclusions. Or, phrased another way, the UN actually legally frustrated NATO operations causing a dichotomy between legal imperatives and strategic realities.
At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying International Relations. Areas that interest him the most are UK foreign policy and the defence/aerospace industry.