Institute for Security Studies

The Institute for Security Studies, also known as ISS or ISS Africa (to distinguish itself from other similarly named institutes in other parts of the world), described itself as follows: "an African organisation which aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance."[2] Their areas of research include transnational crimes, migration, maritime security, development, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, crime prevention, criminal justice, conflict analysis and governance.[2] It is the largest independent research institute in Africa dealing with human security[3] and is headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa, with offices in Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal.[4][5] In 2019, it was ranked 116th by the Global Go To Think Tanks Report and 55th among think tanks outside the United States.[6]

Institute for Security Studies
Founded1991 (1991)
FoundersJakkie Cilliers, PB Mertz
TypeNonprofit organization
FocusAfrican security studies, risk analysis, criminology, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, governance, conflict analysis
  • Block C, Brooklyn Court, 361 Veale Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria, 0181, South Africa
Coordinates25.7733930°S 28.2349012°E / -25.7733930; 28.2349012
Area served
MethodResearch, advocacy, policy analysis, technical assistance for both governments and civil society
Executive Director
Anton du Plessis [1]
Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
Jakkie Cilliers[1]
R217 million (2019)[1]
ExpensesR226 million (2019) [1]
129 (2019)[1]


The institute was originally established as the Institute for Defence Policy in 1991 by Jakkie Cilliers and PB Mertz. In 1996, it was renamed the Institute for Security Studies and the organisation shifted its research focus from South Africa to Africa as a whole.[7] The Institute for Security Studies began with a focus in civil-military relations and democratic reform in the waning years of apartheid South Africa, but has since evolved to encompass a wide range of issue areas of human security across Africa, including: human rights, arms control, corruption and governance, climate change, and crime and criminal justice.[8] Since its inception, the Institute for Security Studies has grown into a pan-African research institution, partnering with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and a host of governments, institutions, and organisations throughout the world.

Areas of work

ISS works in the following areas:[2]

  • Governance, crime, and justice
  • Conflict prevention and risk analysis
  • Conflict management and peace building
  • Transnational threats and international crime


ISS is a regional partner of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and they are currently working together on the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).[4] ISS is also a member of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Crime Justice Network (part of the UNODC).[4][9]

The institute has engaged with the African Union on various platforms. ISS was a research partner with the African Union Commission in the Year of Peace and Security in 2010.[10] Additionally, the ISS website hosts as a repository for African Union documents, dating back to 1990.[11] Finally, ISS collaborates with the African Union Peace and Security Council to produce a monthly report on the security challenges and opportunities that face the continent.[12]

Corruption and Governance Programme

In 2010, the Corruption and Governance programme of the Institute for Security Studies launched the Who Owns What? database. This is an extensive, open-source database of disclosure forms of the assets and interests of South African politicians, in an effort to increase transparency of public officials.[13] The Who Owns What? Database has been used to hold South African politicians accountable for their private interests.[14]

African Futures Project

The African Futures Project is a collaboration between the Institute for Security Studies and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures to promote long-term strategic thinking for the African continent across a broad range of key global systems.[15] The African Futures Project has produced monographs on long-term African development, as well as a quarterly policy brief series that addresses specific development issues, such as the future of traffic accidents and fatalities or the implications of a Green Revolution for Africa.[16][17]


ISS is listed as a prominent organisation in Africa in independent listings.[18][19][20]

The views of ISS staff have been cited and referenced in news stories in the African press, in connection with the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping[21][22] and in other contexts.[23][24][25] It has also been cited in some non-African publications, such as the New York Times,[26] the Wall Street Journal,[27] and The Economist.[28]

See also


  1. "Institute for Security Studies - Annual Review 2019" (PDF). 2019.
  2. "How we work". Institute for Security Studies. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  3. Cilliers, Jakkie (4 February 2020). Africa First!: Igniting a Growth Revolution. Jonathan Ball Publishers. ISBN 978-1-77619-031-7.
  4. "Institute for Security Studies; Pretoria, South Africa – (ISS)". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  5. "How we work". ISS Africa. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  6. McGann, James (18 June 2020). "2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". TTCSP Global Go to Think Tank Index Reports. doi:10.4324/9780429298318. ISBN 9780429298318. S2CID 188102746.
  7. "How we work". ISS Africa. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  8. For a complete list of ISS programmes, see here Archived 17 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice" (PDF). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  10. "UNREC SUPPORTS AU 2010 YEAR OF PEACE AND SECURITY PROGRAMME". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  11. The AU Document Repository is found here Archived 17 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. To access the Peace and Security Council Reports, see this database: Archived 23 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  13. See the Who Owns What? Database at Archived 3 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Sidimba, Loyiso. What do politicians own? City Press.South Africa Published: 14 August 2011.
  15. African Futures Project site:
  16. Africa: Modelling Africa's Future Through the African Futures Project:
  17. For a full list of the African Futures Quarterly Policy Briefs, see: Archived 6 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  18. "Institute for Security Studies (ISS)". Trust Africa wiki. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  19. "Useful Links". Ethics Institute of South Africa. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  20. "Institute for Security Studies". Africa Portal. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  21. Louw-Vaudran, Liesl (14 May 2014). "Nigeria Kidnappings – What a Difference a Hashtag Makes". All Africa. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  22. "Who is Boko Haram's radically aggressive leader?". The Namibian. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  23. Pauw, Jacques (18 May 2014). "Khulubuse Zuma's R100bn oil deal". City Press. Archived from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  24. Gibbs, JeVanne (17 May 2014). "Torture thrives in Africa". The Citizen. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  25. Serino, Kenichi (13 May 2014). "Oscar Pistorius and the white fear factor. South Africa's crime rate is falling, but the Oscar Pistorius murder trial exposes a lingering fear of 'black crime'". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  26. Cowell, Alan (22 April 2014). "A.N.C.'s Stature Wanes as Disenchantment Grows in South Africa". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  27. McGroarty, Patrick (19 March 2014). "Zuma Told to Repay Portion of $23 Million Project. Public Protector Calls Upgrades to South African President's Home 'Excessive'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  28. "South Africa: Gang warfare. The government is unsure how to tackle the present plague of gang violence". The Economist. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2014.

Further reading

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