YPFP NATO Series 2023 – North Atlantic Council Simulation


On 24 November, YPFP Brussels held a NATO-sponsored North Atlantic Council (NAC) simulation at the NATO HQ in Brussels. The simulation was created by the Security and Defence Team of YPFP Brussels. Ms Lisa Picheny, from the NATO PASP Division, played the role of the Secretary General during the simulation, while Jonas Nitschke, Deputy Director of YPFP Brussels Programmes team, played the role of the Secretary of the Council. The simulation was opened by Matteo Tomasina, Director of Security and Defence, YPFP Brussels, who also played the role of the intelligence briefer.

During the simulation, each of the participants was given the chance to represent a NATO member state or the soon-to-be-ally Sweden in a NAC meeting during a fictional crisis. The delegates got an in-depth look at how decisions are made at the NAC level and tried out their own abilities at representing a nation, negotiating differences, and coming to a political agreement. Some of the issues the participants grappled with were questions of attribution following an anonymous attack, the threat of terrorism, and chemical weapon attacks. While the crisis was fictitious, the aim of the simulation was to create a situation that would be a possibility in today’s world, giving the delegates an opportunity to tackle some of the challenges with which NATO’s leaders have to wrestle. The debates and negotiations were challenging and animated, but by the end of the simulation, the delegates were successful in drafting and agreeing on a NAC statement in response to the crisis.  

Overall, the simulation proved to be a very powerful way to illustrate how NATO works and makes decisions. Negotiations are not easy and it can take time to find consensus among 31 Allies. Nevertheless, the final outcome always sends a strong message of unity and purpose, highlighting NATO’s common goals and values. 

All participants were very pleased with the exercise and agreed that following the simulation they understand much better how NATO functions, how negotiations take place, and what the opportunities and constraints are within a consensus-based organization. 

Written by Matteo Tomasina, Director of Security and Defence, YPFP Brussels