• Last updated: 15 Jun. 2011 18:48

NATO Archives

Policy on the Public Disclosure of NATO Information (Extracts)


  1. This document establishes the policy on the public disclosure of NATO information in support of the NATO Information Management Policy (NIMP)1.
  2. This Policy is published by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and is authorised for public disclosure.
  3. The Policy is supported by a Directive on the Public Disclosure of NATO Information.

Scope and Implementation

  1. This Policy applies to information falling within the scope of the NIMP and shall be implemented by the NATO Archivist.

Principle and Objectives

  1. In keeping with the democratic principle that there is a clear duty to inform the public, and as an expression of the importance of the common historical and cultural values that tie members of the Alliance indivisibly together, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will disclose to the public NATO information when such information is no longer classified or sensitive.
  2. The objectives of the public disclosure of NATO information are:
    1. to inform public opinion and broaden the understanding of the purposes, principles and results of the common endeavour of NATO in all its fields of activity;
    2. to stimulate discussion about NATO through the examination of information that documents NATO’s evolution, missions, policies, consultation and decision making; and
    3. to promote and facilitate research about NATO.


  1. It is the policy of NATO to disclose and make available to the public NATO information that:
    1. has permanent value and is at least thirty years old;
    2. has been declassified, if appropriate, by competent authorities in accordance with the NATO Security Policy2 and its supporting Directives; and
    3. has been examined by competent authorities in the member nations where required, and approved for public disclosure.
  2. NATO information shall be examined by competent authorities for declassification and public disclosure against the NATO Exemptions listed in Annex 1 as well as specific national concerns.
  3. A decision not to disclose specific NATO information to the public shall be by reference to its contents.
  4. When NATO information cannot be disclosed in its entirety, it may be further screened for partial disclosure.
  5. NATO information of permanent value that is not classified and is thirty years old shall be automatically disclosed to the public consistent with the applicable policy on unclassified information. This applies both to information marked unclassified at the time of its creation and to information that has been declassified in an authorised manner.
  6. Independently of the systematic disclosure of NATO information outlined above, NATO information may be declassified and publicly disclosed as the result of an ad hoc request by a competent authority of NATO, or by a nation or international organisation having formal relations with NATO. Such ad hoc requests shall be approved by competent authorities in the member nations.
  7. Classified information that has been introduced into NATO by a nation or international organisation, and that has not been circulated under a NATO marking, shall be disclosed subject to the agreement of that nation or international organisation.


  1. Originators, successor organisations or higher authorities are responsible for the declassification of NATO classified information in accordance with the NATO Security Policy and its supporting Directives. They are also responsible for the approval of ad hoc requests for public disclosure, where required.
  2. The NATO Archives Committee, on behalf of the NAC, is responsible for the continuation and expansion of this Policy, for publishing and maintaining specific supporting directives and guidelines, and for coordinating the examination of the NATO information proposed for public disclosure by competent authorities in the member nations.
  3. The NATO Archivist, on behalf of the Archives Committee and within the scope of this Policy, is responsible for initiating, coordinating and reporting on the declassification and public disclosure of NATO information, and proposing amendments to this Policy and the related directives and guidelines.
  4. The NATO Archivist is also responsible for ensuring the public availability of, and access to, publicly disclosed information in the NATO Archives.

  1. Currently C-M (2007)0118
  2. Currently C-M (2002)49