Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Kennedy introduces resolution to insist next NATO secretary be from a country that meets defense spending pledge

Submitted by United States Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana

WASHINGTON (Apr. 16, 2024) – Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced a resolution urging North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members not to confirm the next secretary general unless the nominee is the former leader of a member country that spends at least two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

“NATO can’t deter or answer aggression from hostile regimes if our own member nations show a lack of resolve. No leader from a country that fails to meet its own defense pledge should be able to lead NATO. It’s up to the Senate to deter Iran, China and Russia by ensuring that NATO’s secretary general hails from a country that’s already fulfilling its commitment to the alliance,” said Kennedy.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s term will expire in October. The Netherlands’ Mark Rutte is likely to replace Stoltenberg despite the fact that, throughout Rutte’s 13 years as prime minister, his administration failed to meet its NATO commitment to invest two percent of the Netherlands’ GDP in defense.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) have cosponsored the resolution.

Kennedy’s resolution:

  • Recognizes that, in 2006 and 2014, NATO members agreed to invest two percent of their GDP in defense.
  • Recognizes that, by 2022, only 11 countries had met this minimum defense spending goal.
  • Recognizes that, by 2024, NATO expects 18 member countries to have met the minimum investment.
  • Declares that NATO’s next secretary general should hail from a country that meets the alliance’s defense spending pledge.
  • Declares that NATO will never be fully effective as long as its secretary general represents a member country that does not even fulfill its commitment to its own defense.


  • In 2006, member countries of NATO first agreed to spend two percent of their respective GDP’s on defense. At the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, all member countries once again committed to maintain or move toward meeting the two percent defense spending minimum within 10 years. 
  • As of 2023, only 11 member countries had met the two percent minimum, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Poland and Finland.
  • Many member countries issued statements pledging to meet the minimum investment following Russia’s invading Ukraine, yet many member countries may not reach the minimum contribution until 2035. 
  • Kennedy recently commended NATO allies for increasing defense spending and has consistently called on other countries to meet their commitments. 
  • Kennedy recently led a bipartisan resolution urging NATO allies to spend a minimum of two percent of their GDP on defense spending.

Full text of the senator’s resolution is available here.

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