Peace on Earth? NATO rewrites Article 5 to include space

NATO has rewritten the Article 5 clause of the North Atlantic Treaty to include the space domain for the first time, meaning that an attack on a member’s space-orientated assets could incur a response from across the alliance. Richard Thomas explores the reasons for the decision and implications for the future.

The development of technologies and platforms for use in space-based operations has long been caveated with the notion that the domain would be the only one of the five recognised – the others being land, sea, air, and cyber – that would remain peaceful, or if not quite that, then not militarily contested.

NATO meeting in Brussels
A meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government resulted in the announcement that the Article 5 clause could be invoked should a member suffer attack on space infrastructure. NATO

The announcement by NATO in its June 2021 Brussels Summit Communiqué, issued by the heads of state and participating governments, which explicitly stated that attacks on alliance members’ space infrastructure could lead to the invocation of the Article 5 clause of mutual self-defence, rendered such an ideal as of a bygone age, and finally admitted the final frontier could well be fought over.

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