There seems widespread consensus that all NATO member states must ratify the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, with the concern that Türkiye might still veto. Article 10 is cited for this. I am, however, somewhat confused about the meaning of Article 11 in this context, and Google is surprisingly silent on the matter. It states

The Treaty shall enter into force between the States which have ratified it as soon as the ratifications of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications.

To me (no legal background whatsoever), this sounds like the member states which have signed enter the NATO security guarantees amongst each other once a certain threshold has been reached, and leave non-signing NATO members outside that particular arrangement until they join the support for the joining countries. This would basically mean that Türkiye could decide not to stand by Sweden and Finland, but the rest of NATO would. But this does not seem to be the case.

Does Article 11 it only refer to the initial ratification by the founding members? There is a footnote which seems to point in that direction, but I am not certain:

The Treaty came into force on 24 August 1949, after the deposition of the ratifications of all signatory states.

Or does Article 11 mean that the NATO treaty already holds between all member states who have ratified the accession protocols once the threshold in Article 11 is met, even before all other members have agreed? This condition would be satisfied with yesterdays ratification by the US.

  • 1
    Apparently a single NATO country may prevent a new country from accession. That's why there was so much controversy regarding to Turkey's objections.
    – alamar
    Aug 4, 2022 at 11:47
  • Yes. The question was whether the NATO treaty holds between signatory states under the conditions of Article 11 even before all member states agree to accession. Aug 4, 2022 at 11:56
  • Maybe you should clarify your question - please elaborate how Article 11 may 'work' or 'not work' in this context.
    – alamar
    Aug 4, 2022 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


Article 11 refers only to the initial 1949 treaty. One part of it is relevant to NATO enlargement, however, as it states:

This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

Accession protocols under Article 10 work in a similar way, as mini-treaties, in which the NATO members all agree to issue an invitation to a country to join the alliance in accordance with Article 10, as you mention. These protocols need to be agreed upon and ratified by each member state as treaties in accordance with their constitutional processes as prescribed in Article 11. The later part of Article 11 quoted in your question does not apply to these protocols.

For an example of how this works in practice, we can look at the most recent accession protocol, for North Macedonia.

Article I
Upon the entry into force of this Protocol, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shall, on behalf of all the Parties, communicate to the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia an invitation to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty. In accordance with Article 10 of the Treaty, the Republic of North Macedonia shall become a Party on the date when it deposits its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America.

Article II
The present Protocol shall enter into force when each of the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty has notified the Government of the United States of America of its acceptance thereof. The Government of the United States of America shall inform all the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty of the date of receipt of each such notification and of the date of the entry into force of the present Protocol.

The protocol went through the treaty ratification processes of each member state, after which their acceptance was communicated to the United States as in Article II above. North Macedonia received an accession invitation after Spain gave the protocol Royal Assent in the middle of March 2020, and the country became a full NATO member after depositing the instrument of accession with the US on March 27th.

If Turkey were to withhold its ratification of an accession protocol for Finland or Sweden, the Secretary General would not be empowered to invite either country to join the alliance in accordance with Article 10 of the original treaty.

  • This is precisely the point that is so confusing to me: Article 11 is pretty monolithic and consistent, in that each sentence talks about the treaty, parties and ratification. Yet somehow, the first sentence seems to be relevant to accession of new members, while the rest is somehow irrelevant in this context. Aug 4, 2022 at 12:11
  • 3
    @user11130854 Most of article 11 is referring to the 1949 treaty, and not subsequent protocls. In particular, the bit quoted in your question is self-referential, and no longer relevant now the initial NATO treaty is in force. The part that is still relevant is the bit which refers to the provisions of the treaty being carried out in accordance with the constitution of each state. For the case of accessions, this means that if a country's constitution says that treaties can only be ratified with the consent of parliament, the president can't just agree to a country's accession unilaterally.
    – CDJB
    Aug 4, 2022 at 12:20

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