The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN) was established by the Polish Parliament by virtue of the act as of 18 December 1998. Its actual activity began in the middle of 2000, the moment the first President of the IPN was chosen by the Sejm. This post was taken by a lawyer, Professor Leon Kieres, who held it till December 2005. In 2005-2010 the function was held by Professor Janusz Kurtyka. Since 28 June 2011 until 22 July 2016 Dr. Łukasz Kamiński was President of the Institute. Dr. Jarosław Szarek was appointed President on 22 July 2016.
The resolution on the establishment of the IPN, made by the coalition of parties, stemming from the Solidarity movement (which took over the power from the post-Communist coalition) and having the majority in the Polish Parliament, was connected with an attempt to solve the problem of documents left after the Communist State Security Bodies dissolved in 1990. This concerned the establishment of an institution which was apolitical and independent from the government.
The institution would take control over the archives of the Communist political police which were controlled by Secret Service. It would also make the documents available to people who were objects of invigilation. Earlier, citizens could not acquaint themselves with their own "files". The collected documents were also to be used in order to check the past of people who hold public positions.
The Institute of National Remembrance is a special institution having the functions of state and justice administration, of an archive, an academic institute, an education centre and (since 2007) of a body which conducts vetting proceedings.
The following organizational units operate at the Institute of Remembrance:
The Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation
The Archive of the Institute of National Remembrance
The Office for Commemorating the Struggle and Martyrdom;
The Office of Search and Identification;
The National Education Office;
The Historical Research Office;
The Vetting Office.