List of NATO Secretaries General

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The 11th Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer meets President George W. Bush on March 20, 2006.[1]

The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is the chairman of the North Atlantic Council, the supreme decision-making organisation of the defence alliance. The Secretary General also serves as the leader of the organisation's staff and as its chief spokesman.[2] In addition to these official responsibilities, the Secretary General must maintain close relations with the head of state of each NATO country, and work both formally and informally with other diplomats to deal with issues facing the alliance.[3]

As a matter of tradition, the post of Secretary General is held by a European. This structure is intended to balance the influence of the United States, which appoints the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO's most senior military officer.[4] The Secretary General is selected by consensus among the NATO member states. There is no formal process for the selection; instead, diplomats from the NATO states informally discuss the matter until a candidate is selected. The Secretary General typically serves for a four-year term, but he or she may be asked to serve for a fifth year or longer, with the consensus of the member states.[5]

The current Secretary General is Jens Stoltenberg, who took office on 1 October 2014.[6]

Secretaries General[edit]

Paul-Henri Spaak, the second Secretary General
Manfred Wörner, the seventh Secretary General

The NATO countries selected the first Secretary General on April 4, 1952. Since that time, twelve different diplomats have served officially as Secretary General. They are chosen from eight countries (three from United Kingdom, three from the Netherlands, two from Belgium, one from Italy, one from Germany, one from Spain, one from Denmark and one from Norway). The position has also been occupied temporarily on three occasions by an acting Secretary General in between appointments.

# Secretary General Photo Nationality Took office Left office Length of term
1 Ismay, HastingsHastings Ismay Ismay cropped.jpg  United Kingdom March 24, 1952 May 16, 1957 5 years, 53 days
2 Spaak, Paul-HenriPaul-Henri Spaak Bundesarchiv Bild 183-39998-0427, Paul-Henri Spaak.jpg  Belgium May 16, 1957 April 21, 1961 3 years, 340 days
3 Stikker, DirkDirk Stikker Stikker, Dirk - SFA002019718.jpg  Netherlands April 21, 1961 August 1, 1964 3 years, 102 days[N 1]
4 Brosio, ManlioManlio Brosio Manlio Brosio.PNG  Italy August 1, 1964 October 1, 1971 7 years, 61 days
5 Luns, JosephJoseph Luns Luns, J.M.A.H. - SFA008007314.jpg  Netherlands October 1, 1971 June 25, 1984 12 years, 268 days
6 Carington, PeterPeter Carington Peter Carington.PNG  United Kingdom June 25, 1984 July 1, 1988 4 years, 6 days
7 Wörner, ManfredManfred Wörner Manfred Woerner 1993.jpg  Germany July 1, 1988 August 13, 1994 6 years, 43 days[N 2]
Balanzino, SergioSergio Balanzino (acting) Sergio Balanzino.jpg  Italy August 13, 1994 October 17, 1994 65 days[N 2]
8 Claes, WillyWilly Claes Willy Claes - Filip Naudts.jpg  Belgium October 17, 1994 October 20, 1995 1 year, 3 days[N 3]
Balanzino, SergioSergio Balanzino (acting) Sergio Balanzino.jpg  Italy October 20, 1995 December 5, 1995 46 days[N 3]
9 Solana, JavierJavier Solana Javier Solana 1999.jpg  Spain December 5, 1995 October 6, 1999 3 years, 313 days
10 Robertson, GeorgeGeorge Robertson George Robertson.jpg  United Kingdom October 14, 1999 December 17, 2003 4 years, 64 days
Minuto-Rizzo, AlessandroAlessandro Minuto-Rizzo (acting) No image.png  Italy December 17, 2003 January 1, 2004 15 days[N 4]
11 de Hoop Scheffer, JaapJaap de Hoop Scheffer Dehoopscheffercrop.jpg  Netherlands January 1, 2004[N 5] August 1, 2009 5 years, 212 days
12 Fogh Rasmussen, AndersAnders Fogh Rasmussen Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Nordic Council Session in Helsinki 2008-10-28.jpg  Denmark August 1, 2009 October 1, 2014[15] 5 years, 61 days
13 Stoltenberg, JensJens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg February 2015.jpg  Norway October 1, 2014 incumbent 2 years, 319 days


  1. ^ Stikker resigned from his position a year early due to poor health.[7]
  2. ^ a b Wörner died in office on August 13, 1994 of cancer. The Deputy Secretary General, Sergio Balanzino, took over his daily responsibilities for the last several months on his life and then became acting Secretary General upon his death until the appointment of Willy Claes.[8]
  3. ^ a b Claes resigned as Secretary General after a bribery scandal, centering on his actions in the Belgian cabinet in the 1980s. After his resignation, Deputy Secretary General Sergio Balanzino served as acting Secretary General until the appointment of Javier Solana.[9]
  4. ^ George Robertson announced in January 2003 that he would be stepping down in December.[10] Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was selected as his successor, but could not assume the office until January 2004 because of his commitment in the Dutch Parliament.[11] Robertson was asked to extend his term until Scheffer was ready, but declined, so Minuto-Rizzo, the Deputy Secretary General, took over in the interim.[12]
  5. ^ Scheffer was named Secretary General of NATO effective January 1, 2004,[13] but he did not take office until January 5, 2004.[12][14]


  1. ^ "President Welcomes NATO Secretary General to the White House". The White House. 2006-03-20. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  2. ^ NATO. "The NATO Secretary General". Retrieved 2009-03-29. [dead link]
  3. ^ NATO. "NATO Secretary General: What is his or her authority, tasks and responsibility?". Archived from the original on 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  4. ^ Joyner, James (February 6, 2009). "Canada's MacKay Unlikely NATO Secretary General". The New Atlanticist. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved 200-03-29.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ NATO. "NATO Secretary General:How is he or she selected and for how long?". Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  6. ^ "Nato names Stoltenberg next chief". BBC. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Cook, Don (April 3, 1964). "Resignation announced by Stikker". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Marshall, Andrew (15 August 1994). "Hunt is on to find new Nato chief". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  9. ^ Whitney, Craig (21 October 1995). "Facing Charges, NATO Head Steps Down". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  10. ^ Smith, Craig (January 23, 2003). "NATO Secretary General to Leave His Post in December After 4 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  11. ^ "Jaap de Hoop Scheffer". Newsmakers (1). Thomson Gale. January 1, 2005. 
  12. ^ a b "NATO Chief Steps Down". The New York Times. December 18, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  13. ^ Crouch, Gregory (23 September 2003). "NATO Names a Dutchman To Be Its Secretary General". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  14. ^ Crouch, Gregory (January 6, 2004). "New NATO Chief Takes Over". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  15. ^ "The extension of the Secretary General's mandate". NATO. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-27.