Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Brussels Treaty (1948)

Multilateral treaty of cooperation and collective defense signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. Europe was bifurcated after World War II, with the democratic states in Western Europe and the Soviet-controlled states in Eastern Europe. Consequently, there was an urgent need for cooperation among West European nations to counter any future German belligerence and the threat of Soviet communism. The Brussels Treaty, an important event in the context of the emerging Cold War, guarded against Soviet hegemony and allowed the United States to assist Western Europe. The Brussels Treaty was signed in Brussels and consisted of ten articles. The duration of the treaty was to be fifty years; following ratification by the five signatories, the treaty came into force on 25 August 1948. It ultimately served as the precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western European Union (WEU).

A major goal of the treaty was to supplement the United Nations (UN) Charter, including the enforcement of human rights. In addition, it aimed to fortify the principles of democracy and the rule of law in international affairs. It also sought to establish economic cooperation in Western Europe to bolster reconstruction efforts and provided for collective self-defense.

Article I of the treaty ensured that all signatory nations would cooperate in economic recovery efforts by removing economic and trade barriers. Article II called for the improvement in living standards and social services in member nations. Article III encouraged cultural exchanges among the signatories. Article IV declared that if any of the five nations was attacked, Article 51 of the UN Charter would be invoked to aid the attacked nation. The remaining articles dealt with other collective security issues, conflict resolution, and the particulars of the treaty's ratification and enforcement procedures.

Dewi I. Ball


Further Reading
Reynolds, David, ed. The Origins of the Cold War in Europe: International Perspectives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.
 

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