- 1950 - 2003 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
The NATO Information Service (alternately referred to as the Information Division and the Information Directorate, depending on its hierarchical position within the Organization at a given moment) was principally tasked with informing public opinion about the aims and achievements of the Atlantic Alliance. It assisted Member governments with collecting and developing information programmes about NATO activities and policies for distribution to publicity outlets through various communication media. The Information Service was also responsible for outreach tasks such as coordinating and supervising all press arrangements for Council meetings, arranging group visits to NATO HQ andorganizing conferences, special courses and seminars on NATO matters. It provided administrative support for all NATO activities, meetings and committees related to information.The origins of the NATO Information Service are found in Council Resolution No. 4/7 of 18 May 1950 (D-4/15 Final), whereby the North Atlantic Treaty Council resolved to ‘promote and coordinate public information in furtherance of the objectives of the Treaty while leaving responsibility for national programmes to each country’. By August 1950, the creation of an Information Service was approved (D-D/17 Revised), followed shortly thereafter by the appointment of a Director of Information (D-R/20), who was immediately tasked with recruiting an Information Service staff (D-D/186) and establishing its terms of reference (D-D/187).The Information Service was initially structured into sections that operationalized its main functions: Press Relations; Editorial; Special Media (film, television, radio, photography, exhibits) and Research ISM(53)30). In 1957, the Information Service was reorganized to become the Information Division in order to focus specifically on long-term information projects: Public Relations and Special Media;programmes and Publications; and Regional Relations (the coordination of youth activities was added in 1959). This reorganization also resulted in the creation of a separate Press Service to deal specificallywith daily press relations and the documentation function (PO(57)859). Though the Information Division and the Press Service worked in parallel, they were considered separate units that were both under the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary General of Political Affairs.A major internal reorganization of the Information Division in 1963 led to a substantial shift in the structure of its operations (BC-D(63)20). The documentation function of the Press Service and the cultural affairs function of the Political Division (which comprised the NATO Fellowship and Scholarship programme and the Visiting Professorship programme) were transferred to the newly renamed Information Directorate, which was split into two major sections that distinguished its functions with respect to production and promotion: Media Operations and Public Affairs.The significant restructuring of the International Staff that accompanied the move to Brussels in 1967 gave rise to the creation of a newly amalgamated Division of Political Affairs, Information and Press (PO(67)122). A reorganization of the Information Directorate followed in 1969 (BC-D(69)45), leading to a configuration of three main sections in an effort to achieve a more logical distribution of work: Information Policy, Research and Writing; Media Production; and External Affairs and Regional Relations. In 1981, the Information Directorate became responsible for its own planning and budget administration (ON(81)58).The Information Directorate merged with the Press Service in 1990 to become the new Office of Information and Press (OIP) (PO(90)93). The OIP was originally structured into two main services: a Press and Media Service and an Information Service, which was subdivided into three sections: Planning, Editorial and Budget; Audiovisual Productions; and External Relations. By 2001, an increased emphasis on new outreach approaches led to an expansion of the External Relations Section to take the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programmes into account. Particular attention was placed on NATO’s special bilateral relationship with Russia and its partnership withUkraine, as evidenced by the establishment of information field offices in Kyiv (opened in May 1997) and in Moscow (opened in February 2001). The NATO HQ reforms of 2003 (SG(2003)0429) gave rise to an extensive restructuring of the International Staff, as part of which the OIP was merged with the Scientific and Environmental Affairs Division to produce the new Public Diplomacy Division (PDD).
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The Information Service Sub-fonds consists of files containing NATO documents, memoranda and external correspondence relating to its operational functions and to its support for NATO committees on information.
The Information files also contains the documentation produced by NATO created for the public, including press releases, reference publications and non-periodicals
Other documents outline the wide range of NATO’s cultural production spanning various media (film, television, radio, photography) and activities (events, exhibits, anniversaries, conferences, youth programmes) at their different stages of creation (working papers, proposals, scripts, contracts, receipts).
The NISCA Information files - some of which are not ‘NATO documents’ but rather originals, photocopies, extracts of meetings, memoranda, notes, letters, press clippings and periodicals - provide a variety of information that gives a detailed snapshot of the early years and activities of the Information Service. Of note are the annual surveys of Information output and programmes.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Currently available online are two series, the Publications and Press Releases, and two Sub-series, Reference and Non-Periodical publications.
• Reference Publications
• Press Releases
The files of the Information Service were organized according to a thematic filing
plan of 25 chapters (26 chapters in the second filing plan), each of which corresponded to its functions and activities.
The first filing plan was in use by the Information Service Subregistry from 1952 to
- After the move to Brussels in 1967, a second filing plan was created that incorporated many of the subject headings of the first plan while also updating other parts of the plan to take account of the development of new operations and the cessation of certain activities. This second filing plan was carried over for use by the Office of Information and Press after its creation in 1990 and continued to be in use until its official closing in 2003.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
NATO publicly disclosed information is available for research and education purposes. Any commercial use requires the written permission of NATO. Please credit the NATO Archives should any documents be used for publication. Guidelines for the proper citation of NATO publicly disclosed information can be found on the NATO Archives website (http://www.nato.int/archives).
Conditions governing reproduction
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Script of material
Language and script notes
French and English versions of most documents are available.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
The Information Service supported the activities of several NATO committees on information, including the first NATO International Information Meeting (AC/1), the Information Policy Working Group (AC/24), the NATO Conference on Information Policy (AC/87), the Conference of National Information Officers (AC/124), the Information Working Group (AC/273) and, most prominently, the Committee on Information and Cultural Relations (later renamed the Committee on Public Diplomacy - AC/52).