Spotlight: how does the ISS improve human security in Africa?


This year, the annual review focuses on how the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) does its work; the skills and activity that make the ISS so effective.

It starts with a corps of dedicated staff, predominantly African and based on the continent. ‘Our staff are skilled and committed to human security,’ says Anton du Plessis, ISS Executive Director.

The working experience of ISS staff is directly relevant to their roles. ISS training of police for peace operations is by former officers who led police on African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) missions. Bomb disposal training is by seasoned officers schooled in real terrorism incidents. This is how the ISS passes on skills and experience to officials across the continent.

‘We aren’t academics trying to match theory with security challenges,’ notes Jakkie Cilliers, ISS founder and Chair of the ISS Board of Trustees. ‘We understand the continent from our direct experience and bring a working knowledge of conditions on the ground.’

Another key factor in ISS’ approach is building long-term partnerships. ‘The ISS doesn’t offer occasional advice from afar,’ says du Plessis. ‘We are here for the long term. When ISS develops strategies for police and prosecutors, the staff stay involved and make sure things are working.’

The ISS is a working part of Africa’s security ecosystem

The ISS brings an African perspective to global debates about terrorism, migration and development. It is a trusted source that makes Africa accessible through public seminars and private briefings.

These help decision makers and the public interpret developments on issues as diverse as the International Criminal Court, maritime security and weapons of mass destruction.

‘The ISS is able to shine a light on how Africa works,’ says Said Djinnit, president of the ISS Advisory Council. This is because ISS staff invest in relationships at the highest levels of the UN and the AU, and in national governments.

We spend a lot of time building connections across Africa,’ says du Plessis. ‘We understand the complexities and approach problems in a constructive way. The ISS is a working part of Africa’s security ecosystem.’

ISS insights are widely distributed through digital and social media. ‘The ISS features in hundreds of radio discussions and news reports every year, helping to educate the public and encourage accountability among our leaders,’ says Djinnit.

The findings of unique empirical research enable the ISS to correct misperceptions and steer strategies on migration and radicalisation. ‘We propose solutions that are based on informed analysis that has been reviewed by our peers,’ says Cilliers.

Collaboration is core to the ISS’ success. ‘We can’t improve human security on our own,’ says du Plessis. ‘The ISS works well with others in the common interests of Africa.’

Improving human security in Africa: ISS Annual Review 2016 is available here.

For more information contact:

Antoinette Louw, ISS:  +27 82 883 5012,

Picture: UNAMID/Albert Gonzalez Farran