NATO is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. POLITICAL - NATO promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defence and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict. MILITARY - NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty - NATO’s founding treaty - or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.