The Department of Public Information (DPI) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a long history of working together. The importance of working with and through NGOs as an integral part of United Nations information activities was recognized when the Department of Public Information was first established in 1946. The General Assembly, in its resolution 13 (I), instructed DPI and its branch offices to: 

 “…actively assist and encourage national information services, educational institutions and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations of all kinds interested in spreading information about the United Nations. For this and other purposes, it should operate a fully equipped reference service, brief or supply lecturers, and make available its publications, documentary films, film strips, posters and other exhibits for use by these agencies and organizations.”

Ever since then, the NGOs have continued to play a key role in bringing the work of the United Nations to people around the world. In 1968, the Economic and Social Council, by Resolution 1297 (XLIV) of 27 May, called on DPI to associate NGOs, bearing in mind the letter and spirit of its Resolution 1296 (XLIV) of 23 May 1968, which stated that an NGO "...shall undertake to support the work of the United Nations and to promote knowledge of its principles and activities, in accordance with its own aims and purposes and the nature and scope of its competence and activities".

The association of NGOs is based on their commitment to uphold the principles of the UN, support the Organization’s activities and spread the word about issues on its agenda, while maintaining their independence and staying true to their own core values. With the passage of time, the relationship between DPI and NGOs has grown stronger and more important; Member States continue to recognize the benefits of NGO participation locally, regionally and internationally, and have expressed their willingness to assist and accommodate the work of NGOs as reflected in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. Since then, NGO global involvement in international issues, consultations, policy making and conferences is much more visible, accepted and recognized. The UN too has continued to actively engage the NGO community, and within DPI that relationship is fostered and nurtured by NGO Relations, in the Department’s Outreach Division.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently reiterated the value of NGO’s commitment to working with the United Nations to achieve sustainable development. He remarked that that the Organization has “no greater partner than you, non-governmental organizations. […] The United Nations is committed to working with you for a more peaceful, just and prosperous future for all.”