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Possible solution: If the Assembly desires to have a direct impact on the Alliance it could seek as its primary purpose to pass legislation in national parliaments that promotes the ends sought. Second, it could seek to influence the policies of national executives-through the various nonlegislative devices available to different parliaments such as question periods, hearings, and so forth. Third, it can continue to keep the NAC and other NATO bodies fully aware of Assembly intentions and desires, so that all levels of the decisionmaking and implementing structure are engaged in the process.

This solution could be implemented in particular by revising the Assembly rules of procedure in such a way that "recommendations" and "opinions" be designed principally for their impact on the national legislative process, rather than for receipt and comment by the


To help complete the circle, national delegations could be encouraged to include parliamentary leaders with foreign affairs and defense responsibilities, because such people can most effectively seek implementation of Assembly recommendations in the actions of the parent parliaments. Further, when the Assembly passes recommendations, national delegations could be requested to report back to the relevant Assembly committee on the actions that have been taken to promote the goals sought in the recommendation. Such reporting could take place at the first and, if necessary, subsequent committee meetings following passage of a recommendation.

B. Problem: It is the opinion of many parliamentarians and experts that a principal benefit of the Assembly is its potential for free exchange of view on issues. This potential is far from fully realized. The plenary sessions have generally been found dull and substantively not very productive. A number of leading Assembly members have identified the procedure of debating committee reports as one reason for this situation. They also identified the current list system—which determines the order of speakers-and language barriers as hindrances to free and open debate.

Possible solution: The fact that not all members of the Assembly will be able to work in the language of all other members is a problem that cannot be ameliorated other than by insuring that competent simultaneous translation facilities are always available.

But the plenary sessions could be enlivened by eliminating the procedure of debating committee reports. One period of time could be set aside for debate on recommendations, resolutions, opinions, or orders reported out of the committees. In addition, a period of time could be reserved for general debate, perhaps including debate on two or three specific propositions-issues of direct consequence for the Alliance. The purpose of such debate would be the exchange of views that could take place and the opportunity for members to raise issues of concern; no vote need be taken. (Some would prefer, in fact, to organize the plenary entirely around such debates. This report concludes, however, that if the Assembly reorients its decisionmaking structure so that it points more toward the parent parliaments and member governments, then it would be worthwhile to continue to vote out recommendations and other expressions of Assembly opinions and desires.)

1 See appendix A, proposed revisions 2, 5, 8.

See appendix A, proposed revisions 7, 9. Procedures employed at the 1978 annual session constituted a Assembly history. sep in this general direction. The debate, as a result, was reportedly one of the most stimulating in recent

Finally, the list system could be revised to ensure more of a debate in the plenary sessions. Instead of the President calling on delegates in the order in which they are enrolled on the list, speakers on different sides of the issue at hand could be called on in rotation. This could be accomplished by enrolling speakers as "for," "against," or "undecided." The President would call on speakers in order of their enrollment but from alternating categories until the speakers in all categories have been called.3

C. Problem: The year-to-year working patterns of the Assembly are considered inadequate by many members and experts for dealing seriously and continuously with the problems of the Alliance.

Possible solution: The Assembly could hold two semiannual meetings rather than one annual meeting. Each session would include committee and plenary sessions, with election of officers and other internal business still conducted during the fall meeting. Such a procedure would slightly upgrade the work of the Assembly, and American participation in the spring session would hopefully be better than it is for the current spring committee meetings.*

D. Problems: American participation in the Assembly is weakened by the current procedure of holding the annual meeting in the fall when work and political pressures can be particularly restricting for American Congressmen.

Possible solution: If the previous suggestion (of holding two semiannual sessions) is adopted, the fall session could be held in North America (either in the United States or in Canada). The spring session would be hosted by one of the European members and held at a time when attendance could be maximized (for example, on one end of the Easter break period might be a good possibility or during the Memorial Day recess another). This procedure would increase the number of Assembly meetings held in North America, something that is favored by many Assembly members and experts. There is some latent French opposition to holding too many meetings in the United States, but the alternation of the North American sessions between Canada and the United States should allay this concern.

E. Problem: The impact of the Assembly on public opinion in the member countries is extremely limited. A probable reason for this is the Assembly's failure to tailor its schedule and work habits to attract the necessary press interest and coverage.

Possible solution: A number of changes already discussed in this report would contribute to generating greater press attention to the deliberations of the Assembly. These include the promotion of more stimulating debate in the plenary sessions, holding two full-blown Assembly meetings a year, and providing the Assembly with a more substantial independent research capability. One additional measure, however, is regarded by most observers as a necessary step toward greater press and public interest in the Assembly: the committee meetings, which now are closed to the public, should as a rule be open. Virtually all the parliamentarians, Secretariat staffers, and

See appendix A, proposed revision 7.

See appendix A, proposed revisions 1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 12.

See appendix A, proposed revision 1.

These and other suggestions are discussed in a paper prepared at the request of the Assembly Secretariat by a journalist, David Fouquet, entitled "Observations on the Information Programme of the North Atiantic Assembly."

7 See appendix A, proposed revisions 10, 11.

experts with whom I discussed this proposition favored shedding greater light on the deliberations of the Assembly committees.

F.Problem: The committee directors do not have sufficient resources to handle both their committee-organization responsibilities and to do original research or writing for the Assembly. The Assembly therefore does not have an independent research capability to put at the service of members and committees.

Possible solution: One source interviewed suggested that simply a reorganization of the secretariat staff could provide the extra assistance required by the committee directors. This source and others observed that the secretariat organization was administratively-heavy and substantively light.

A number of parliamentarians and experts believe that it would be logical and desirable to go beyond merely shifting a few people around on the staff to the establishment of a limited "think tank" capability within the secretariat. Such a capability could make a major contribution to the potential for the Assembly to play a more influential role in the affairs of the Alliance.

This report suggests that the position of Director of Committees and Studies might be split in two. The Director of Studies would be given two professional staffers plus two or three stagiers (interns) on a rotating basis. This staff would be tasked primarily with direct substantive support in response to or in anticipation of Assembly action. The staff could be tasked with research projects by the President of the Assembly, a committee chairman, or a member of the standing committee. Committee directors would still be responsible for assisting rapporteurs in preparation of their reports, but the research group could be called on to support in this task.

G. Problem: The Secretary General of the Assembly currently faces great personal and professional uncertainty due to the fact that his tenure must be approved every other year by the Standing Committee. Possible solution: The Standing Committee could appoint the Secretary General for a period of 4 years, with the possibility of a single 2-year extension.

H. Problem: A number of sources complained that positions on the Assembly secretariat staff are generally filled without open and advertised competition. They suggested that the Assembly's image could benefit from a more outward-looking approach to staff vacancies. Possible solution: Openings on the Assembly secretariat staff could be advertised in the Assembly newsletter or in other appropriate forums that reach interested people in the member countries. Following a competitive selection process, the final hiring decision might be made by the Secretary General with the assistance of a panel including two professionals on the Assembly staff and one outside advisor at the discretion of the Secretary General.

1. Problem: The Assembly has a second-rate publications policy, falling far behind the standards of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, or the Western European Union. The records of debates are published only in summary form and some important reports and documents of the Assembly are not available in an attractive format. One member of parliament described the paper used by the Assembly for its publications as no better than "high-class toilet paper" and many sources complained about the fact that what the Assembly does publish usually is in mimeographed and not printed form.


Possible solution: The documents of an organization such as the Assembly are an important expression of the organization's opinion of itself. If the Assembly could bring the quality of its publications up to that of other interparliamentary bodies, the potential for the Assembly to increase its influence on member parliaments, on the press, and on the general public and scholars should be enhanced. Some additional budgetary outlays clearly would be required, but if the Assembly wishes to increase its influence it could beneficially improve the quality of the documentation that records and projects its work.

Financial considerations, however, should not be a deterrent to this or any other of the suggestions included in this report. The budget of the Assembly (see appendix B) is a relatively modest one, and a minor financial burden for the participating parliaments and the U.S. Congress.





The North Atlantic Assembly is a body of parliamentary
delegates who usually meet once a year in plenary session
and who are selected from among the members of national
parliaments of member countries to the Atlantic Alliance
by the procedure best suited to each country. A member
of government cannot be a delegate to the Assembly.


Revision 1: First Introductory Paragraph.
Purpose: To increase the effectiveness of the Assembly's
meeting schedule and to reflect a decision by the Assembly
to become a more representative body.


The North Atlantic Assembly is a body of parliamentary delegates who usually meet (once) TWICE a year in plenary session WITH THE FALL MEETING CONVENING IN NORTH AMERICA. THE DELEGATES (and who) are selected from among the members of national parliaments of member countries of the Atlantic Alliance by the procedure best suited to each country (.), BUT WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES IN EACH COUNTRY.

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