Zuckerman Archive: NATO Science Committee

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1187 SZ/NATO
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and French.
  • Physical Description
      7 boxes; six files; 1.5 metres

Scope and Content

The contents relate chiefly to Solly Zuckerman's membership of the NATO Science Committee and related groups. The subject-matter is predominantly concerned with scientific and technical manpower and education, with which Zuckerman was pre-occupied at the time. As well as chronicling the origins of the Committee, NATO's activities in the field of scientific co-operation, such as its Fellowship and Study Institute schemes, are dealt with.

Sub-file SZ/NATO/2/6 consists of three papers on energy development.

Sub-file SZ/NATO2//7 consists of correspondence, and minutes and papers of the UK Minister for Science's Steering Group on Space Research, relating to proposals emanating from various European countries and from the NATO Science Committee on collaborative action on space research. It includes correspondence with Sir William Hodge, the Astronomer Royal, and Sir Mark Oliphant concerning a Southern Hemisphere Observatory.

The Conference of Members of Parliament from NATO Countries, to which File SZ/NATO/3 refers, was an unofficial body on which the United Kingdom was represented through the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. In 1957 the Conference established a Special Committee on Scientific and Technical Personnel and it is the report of this Committee with which the file is primarily concerned. Most of the correspondence is with Richard Fort, MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. There is a degree of overlap between this file and File SZ/NATO/1.

File SZ/NATO/5 includes the text of SZ's paper to the SHAPE/AGARD Operational Research Conference.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Task Force for Further Action by NATO in the Field of Scientific and Technical Co-operation, to become known as the Koepfli Group, was set up by the North Atlantic Council in February 1957 following the recommendations made by a committee consisting of the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Italy, and Norway (the Three Wise Men) in December 1956 - an event precipitated by the launch by the USSR of the first space satellite, Sputnik, in the previous October.

The Task Force's terms of reference were: To identify those aspects of the problem which have special importance for NATO ... These should relate particularly to the maintenance of effective Atlantic military defences and to the need to keep pace with Soviet developments in the scientific and technical field, regard being paid to the economic and cultural development of the NATO area ... To take cognizance of what has been done by other organizations, including the OEEC, in order to assist the Council in determining in what way NATO should support or supplement these activities To make recommendations, if possible, to the Council with regard to the Conference on Scientific and Technical Co-operation ...

The Task Force was chaired by the US representative, Dr Joseph B. Koepfli. Solly Zuckerman was the UK representative, with Dr B.K. (Bertie) Blount, Deputy Head of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), acting as his substitute.

The Task Force submitted its report directly to NATO's Heads of Government in December 1957. The Task Force's recommendations that NATO should appoint a Science Adviser and set up a Science Committee were promptly approved.

The NATO Science Committee was established in December 1957 and first met in March 1958. The initial terms of reference were to: advise the Council on problems of science and technology of concern to the NATO Alliance; propose to the Council recommendations concerning: steps which member countries might take to strengthen the scientific and technical resources available to NATO; direct action by NATO itself designed to initiate or improve co-operative activities between member countries; support which NATO might give to other organizations whose efforts are of particular concern to the members of the Alliance; set up such ad hoc working groups or other bodies as may be required to formulate proposals for action in relation to specific scientific and technical problemsreview periodically the operation of any co-operative scientific and technical institutions set up under NATO auspices; review at suitable intervals the scientific and technical progress of member countries insofar as it bears on problems of general concern to NATO, and in particular with respect to:measures agreed to by Council action under NATO auspices to improve scientific co-operation and exchange action in connection with programmes of other agencies which are of particular concern to NATO maintain liaison with other agencies fostering international scientific and technical co-operation.

The Comittee was chaired by NATO's Science Adviser, the first being Professor Norman F. Ramsey of Harvard University. Solly Zuckerman was the first UK representative on the Committee.

The Study Group on Increasing the Effectiveness of Western Science, known as the Armand Study Group, was established by the Science Committee under the chairmanship of Louis Armand in March 1959, following the outcome of discussions in a working party of the same name. Solly Zuckerman was the UK representative on the Group. The Group began its deliberations in the late summer of 1959 and published its report in the following year. It made wide-ranging recommendations for the organisation and funding of support for fundamental science in NATO member countries, for increasing the numbers of scientists and technicians and improving scientific and technical education, and for international co-operation including the free flow of specialists between member states.


  • SZ/NATO/1 Task Force for Further Action by NATO in the Field of Scientific and Technical Co-operation, 1956-57 [in four sub-files]
  • SZ/NATO/2 NATO Science Committee, 1958-1977 [in seven sub-files]
  • SZ/NATO/3 Conference of Members of Parliament from NATO Countries, 1957-1960 [in three sub-files]
  • SZ/NATO/4 Atlantic Congress, 1959
  • SZ/NATO/5 SHAPE/AGARD Operational Research Conference, 1957
  • SZ/NATO/6 SHAPE 4th Operational Research Conference, 1958

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