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Institute for Security Studies

The Institute for Security Studies partners to build knowledge and skills that secure Africa’s future.

The Institute for Security Studies is a leading African organisation that enhances human security to enable sustainable development and economic prosperity in Africa. It works across the continent, doing authoritative research, providing expert policy advice and delivering practical training and technical assistance.

The ISS has established a niche in Africa. It provides a unique package of services to governments, intergovernmental organisations and civil society by combining research with an ability to convene key decision makers to discuss policy options and partner on capacity building. The ISS invests in a collaborative approach to fulfil its vision of a peaceful and prosperous Africa for all its people.

The ISS head office is in Pretoria, South Africa. Regional offices are located in: Nairobi, Kenya; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Dakar, Senegal.

In 1991 the former executive director, Dr Jakkie Cilliers and Mr PB Mertz founded the ISS. At the time it was called the Institute for Defence Policy.

Areas of work

The ISS achieves its goal through the work of the following divisions and projects.


Governance, crime and justice promotes democratic governance and helps reduce corruption through better accountability and respect for human rights. It assists African governments to develop evidence-based policies that improve the performance of their criminal justice systems and reduce violence.

Conflict prevention and risk analysis helps prevent conflict by improving the understanding of the latest human security developments on the continent.

Peace operations and peacebuilding enhances peace operations and peacebuilding by assisting governments, as well as regional and international institutions, to improve their policy and implementation.

Transnational threats and international crime helps African inter-governmental organisations, national governments and civil society to respond more effectively and appropriately to transnational threats and international crimes.


African Futures and Innovation produces policy analysis on possible trajectories for human security, development, economic growth and socio-political change in Africa. The project enables decision makers to test the implications of policy choices well into the future.

The African Centre for Peace and Security Training enables government officials, journalists, human rights activists and the private sector to understand and implement human security policy through in-depth training courses. An influential alumni network encourages cooperation between countries and sectors.

The maritime safety and security project enhances Africa’s blue economy through raising awareness and assisting the African Union, Regional Economic Communities and states with policy and strategy development.

The migration project looks critically at the causes, catalysts and consequences of mass migration from and within Africa. The issue is under-researched and while its impact is known, responding effectively will require informed policies and strategic responses.

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