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Tackling new threats to African and global peace and security
17 December 2015

The changing human security landscape in African and globally requires innovative responses to the complex threats that undermine the continent’s potential for growth and development. Over the next five years, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) will be at the forefront of efforts to understand and resolve these challenges.

Africa is seeing the emergence of new actors in violent conflicts and fragile contexts. Transnational organised crime groups and terror groups capitalise on poverty, weak governance and poor service delivery to recruit from marginalised populations. Violent extremism across the continent is also fuelled by links to global extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

‘Not all of these threats are new’, says ISS Executive Director Anton du Plessis. ‘But what is changing is how, when and where they intersect; the linkages are becoming important’. These hybrid threats emanate from militias, armed gangs and organised criminal groups whose activities are transnational and often span multiple jurisdictions. Cybercrime adds to the risks, and can weaken state authority and exploit vulnerable groups.

‘We are positioning the ISS to be a leading organisation on understanding and responding to these changing human security dynamics in Africa and globally’, says du Plessis who was recently appointed executive director after serving as acting executive director and then managing director of the ISS from 2013.

The ISS is more than a think tank: it finds solutions and works with partners to make them a reality
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Research will remain the cornerstone of the ISS’ work. Timely and relevant research creates the space for dialogue that is the first step towards crafting better policies and decisions. Credible analysis by ISS experts who understand the context and are informed by their wide networks enables the provision of valuable policy advice.

Building on this solid foundation, the focus for the next five years will be on finding practical solutions and partnering with governments and other organisations to make them a reality. A core part of the ISS’ work is training prosecutors, police, military officials and other decision makers across the continent. The ISS also contributes African expertise to the United Nations, African Union, regional economic communities, national governments and civil society.

‘The ISS is much more than a think tank’, says du Plessis. ‘Our connections across the continent mean we can convene and work with senior representatives from government, civil society and the diplomatic community to solve human security problems’.

A key part of the ISS strategy in the next five years will be adapting to the environment in which non-governmental organisations and think tanks now operate in Africa and globally. Traditional sources of funding are changing as donor countries replace development aid with investment and partnerships, and favour short-term projects over institutional contributions.

‘The impact of the global financial crisis means we have to become better at navigating this environment rather than being caught on the back foot’, says du Plessis. ‘Our focus will be on the relevance, sustainability and financial health of the ISS through sound management and administration’.

For more information, contact:

Anton du Plessis, ISS: +27 78 781 3619,