The Problems of Modern Societies

The North Atlantic Treaty embraces the overwhelming majority of the advanced industrial nations, and more than half the wealth of the world. The environment has suffered grievously from our common technological triumphs; we share the experience of seeing the technological, environmental and social problems of modern societies grow to alarming proportions. But we also have the skills and resources needed to redress the balance. And we share a tradition of exchanging ideas. It is no accident that we are in the forefront of the world's attack on these global problems.

In 1969 the United States suggested that NATO form a Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society as a framework for joint effort in this new dimension of partnership. The committee was formed, and launched action programs in 1970 with pilot studies on a range of problems. For example: several allies have begun cooperative production of experimental road vehicles for maximum passenger safety; all NATO members agreed in November to bring to an end by 1975, if possible, the deliberate discharge of oil and oily wastes into the sea; allied experts explored the problems of flood control and relief; the committee made plans to co-sponsor a major international conference on the problems of cities at Indianapolis in May 1971.

These problems affect the societies of all of us; they can affect our relations with one another; shared experience can be the basis of finding solutions.

These are world problems, not limited to the Atlantic region. As the charter of the committee makes explicit, we allies see our own cooperation in the widest perspective-as a bridge between our community and the rest of the world. Japan, which works with us in the OECD, and other friendly nations have joined us in bilateral and multilateral programs. We link our efforts and will share what we learn with the United Nations and its agencies, and other multilateral organizations. We hope to help developing nations anticipate and avoid some of these by-products of modernization. We are prepared to have the Communist world share in our effort.