T I M E L I N E :

NATO History

Follow key events in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

July 6, 1948
The United States, Canada and western European nations open talks on a defense pact in response to the Soviet blockade on Berlin, tightening the communist grip on eastern Europe.
April 4, 1949
The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington.
May 14, 1955
The Soviet Union forms the Warsaw Pact.
Nov. 13-14, 1961
NATO condemns the construction of the Berlin Wall and backs the stance of Western powers in Berlin.
Dec. 18-20, 1962
The U.S. and Britain agree to contribute part of their strategic nuclear forces to NATO.
March 10, 1966
French President Charles de Gaulle pulls France out of NATO's integrated military structure.
Oct. 15-16, 1968
NATO denounces the Warsaw Pact's crushing of Czechoslovakia's "Prague Spring."
Dec. 12, 1979
NATO approves the deployment of U.S. Cruise and Pershing II theater nuclear weapons in Europe.
Communist regimes crumble in central and eastern Europe.
Dec. 19, 1989
Eduard Shevardnadze becomes the first Soviet foreign minister to visit NATO headquarters.
July 6, 1990
A NATO summit in London offers political and military cooperation to new democracies in eastern Europe.
Dec. 6-7, 1990
NATO supports a U.N. resolution demanding Iraq withdraw from Kuwait, but does not get involved in the U.S.-led coalition fight in the Gulf War against Iraq.
July 1, 1991
Warsaw Pact dissolved.
April 12, 1993
NATO enforces a no-fly zone over Bosnia.
Jan. 10-11, 1994
NATO launches its "partnership for peace" outreach program for eastern European nations.
Aug. 1, 1995
NATO launches a series of air strikes against Bosnian Serbs shelling Sarajevo.
Dec. 16, 1995
NATO deploys 60,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia.
March 24, 1999
NATO begins air strikes against Yugoslavia over its military actions in Kosovo. Russia opposes the move and freezes ties with NATO.
June 10, 1999
After 78 days of NATO air strikes, Yugoslavia agrees to pull troops from Kosovo. NATO shifts its operation to lead a peacekeeping mission in the province.
Aug. 22, 2001
NATO sends troops to Macedonia to oversee disarming ethnic Albanian rebels and protect peace monitors.
Sept. 12, 2001
For the first time, NATO invokes its mutual defense clause, declaring the attacks on New York and Washington to be an attack against the whole alliance.
Oct. 12, 2001
NATO AWACS surveillance planes start patrols over the United States, but the alliance is not given direct role in the U.S. war against Afghanistan's Taliban.
May 13-14, 2002
Dropping a long-standing reluctance to act outside the European theater, NATO foreign ministers say the alliance must be able to field forces "quickly to where ever they are needed."
May 28, 2002
NATO and Russia sign a sweeping agreement pledging cooperation against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Sept. 24-25, 2002
America wins broad support from the allies for a plan for a NATO rapid-response force that would be able to move 20,000 troops quickly against terrorist or other threats.
Source: CBS News, Associated Press
UN  History

For more than 50 years the United Nations has struggled as an international governing body trying to forge peace, end poverty and heal the world.

Feb. 11, 1945
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Russian Prime Minister Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agree at Yalta to establish a body devoted to fostering international peace.
Oct. 24, 1945
The U.N. charter is signed in San Francisco with the stated goal to build communication and cooperation between nations. It is headquartered in New York City and has major offices in Geneva and Vienna. The United Nations superceded the League of Nations, which was established in 1919 to help end World War I. The name 'United Nations' originally referred to those countries allied against Germany, Japan and Italy in World War II.
Originally founded in 1899, the International Court of Justice comes under the purview of the United Nations. The court's decisions are legally binding, but member nations must submit cases to the court. In numerous instances, member countries have resisted giving the court jurisdiction over sensitive domestic political issues, which has limited the court's influence.
The United Nations establishes the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has three main functions: To act as a health information clearinghouse; to study and combat epidemics; and to foster member countries' internal health-oriented bureaucracies.
Dec. 10, 1948



U.N. members sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

June 1950

With the Soviet Union boycotting the United Nations over the West's refusal to admit communist China, the United States is successful in pushing through a resolution to have U.N. troops defend South Korea against North Korea. The United States fought under the U.N. banner in the Korean War until a cease-fire in 1953.




Under Secretary-General Dag Hammar-skj÷ld, the United Nations begins its tradition of peacekeeping. U.N. soldiers, called "blue helmets," are sent into trouble spots that often act as buffers between warring factions. Regions where peacekeepers have worked are the Middle East and, more recently, Africa and the Balkans.

Sept. 18, 1961



Hammars-kj÷ld dies in an air crash while on a mission in the Congo.

Tensions between East and West, i.e. the Soviet Union and Western Powers, yield gridlock in the process of admitting new nations to the United Nations for the first 10 years of its existence. For a nation to be admitted, the U.N. Security Council and two-thirds of the General Assembly had to approve. In 1995, 16 new countries were admitted in a package deal.
Forty new countries are admitted during this growth period.
The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples helps bring U.N. membership to 150 countries by the end of the 1970s.

The Security Council format is amended to include the five permanent nations and 10 nonpermanent members: five from African and Asian states, one from eastern European states, two from Latin-American states and two from western European and other states.

Around this time, World Bank lending shifts away from infrastructure and toward agriculture and education programs in Third World countries. The World Bank is the international lending arm of the United Nations.

After the United States drops its 21-year opposition, the People's Republic of China is admitted to the United Nations and is given permanent Security Council status.

The first international conference on women is held in Mexico City.



U.N. peace-keepers en masse are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

November 1990



The United Nations authorizes member states to use all necessary force to push back Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. On Jan. 15, 1991 the Gulf War begins.

Early 1990s



As former Soviet satellite countries and the divided Koreas are admitted, the U.N. membership tally reaches 175.




First U.N. "Earth Summit."




Observance of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. charter.




The United Nations opens the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty for member ratification. As of late 2001, the United States still hadn't signed.

Sept. 6-9, 2000
The United Nations holds a millennium summit, with the largest assembly of world leaders ever. Heads of state from more than 150 nations meet to discuss a wide range of issues and adopt the so-called Millennium Declaration.
Oct. 12, 2001

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan - four months after he was elected unanimously by the 189-member General Assembly to a second 5-year term - for their roles at the "forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world."

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