International Institute for Strategic Studies
Formation1958; 66 years ago (1958)
TypeInternational relations think tank
HeadquartersLondon, England, United Kingdom
51°30′41″N 0°06′49″W / 51.511502°N 0.113550°W / 51.511502; -0.113550
Director-General and Chief Executive
Bastian Giegerich

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is an international research institute or think tank focusing on defence and security issues. Since 1997, its headquarters have been at Arundel House in London.[1] It has offices on four continents, producing data and research on questions of defence, security and global affairs, publishing publications and online analysis, and convening major security summits.[2] The Guardian newspaper has described the IISS as ‘one of the world’s leading security think tanks.’[3]

The current Director-General and Chief Executive is Bastian Giegerich while Sir John Chipman is the Executive Chairman.

The 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked IISS as the tenth-best think tank worldwide and the second-best Defence and National Security think tank globally,[4] while Transparify ranked it third-largest UK think tank by expenditure, but gave it its lowest rating, "deceptive", on funding transparency.[5]


The institute has worked with governments, defence ministries and global organisations such as NATO.[6]

Advisory services

The IISS provides ‘strategic advice and political risk analysis to government and commercial clients’.[7]


In 2011 the institute published the FARC files[8]—documents captured from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that shed light on the movement's inner workings.

The 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked the Shangri-La Dialogue as the best Think tank conference worldwide.[9]


The Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS), as it was originally known, was founded in 1958, following a conference in January 1957, which gathered together the main voices interested in the nuclear issues of the day. Military historian Michael Howard chaired a group which recommended that ‘we should set up a body whose primary  purpose should be the collection and dissemination of information about nuclear weapons and their implications for international relations…And so the Institute was born.’

Its first director was the defence journalist Alastair Buchan, and its first president the former Labour prime minister Clement Attlee.

While the Institute’s initial composition was mainly British, from 1968 the council were joined by Australian and Japanese members. Because of this, it was renamed the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in 1971.

Since then, the IISS has convened many private discussion groups and conferences and also hosted influential public events and lectures. The 1977 Alastair Buchan memorial lecture, delivered by West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (an Institute member since 1959), which became known as one of the key appeals for ‘Euromissiles’ to counter new Soviet intermediate-range missiles.

In 2016, The Guardian reported that IISS "has been accused of jeopardising its independence after leaked documents showed it has secretly received £25m from the Bahraini royal family", noting that leaked "documents reveal that IISS and Bahrain's rulers specifically agreed to keep the latter's funding for the Manama Dialogues secret".[10][11] The IISS did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked documents or deny receiving funding from Bahrain, but issued a response stating that "[a]ll IISS contractual agreements, including those with host governments, contain a clause asserting the institute's absolute intellectual and operational independence as an international organisation that does not participate in any manner of advocacy".[12]

Peter Oborne in Middle East Eye subsequently reported that IISS may have received nearly half of its total income from Bahraini sources in some years.[13]

The IISS moved to new headquarters at Arundel House in 2000. In 2023, the IISS had approximately 160 employees and an annual turnover of more than £25 million.

Raymond L. Garthoff wrote in 2004:[14]

In 1959 the IISS issued a pamphlet on the "military balance" between the Soviet Union and NATO. It was unfortunately replete with errors, having been put together from published sources of widely varying quality. I called this to the attention of Alastair Buchan, the director of the institute, who was quite disturbed. A new version was issued in November 1960, much more correct and accurate, though still not up to the latest intelligence. Again, I called this to Buchan's attention, and he undertook to check out with British authorities what became annual issuances.



The IISS is a registered charity, and fundraising is overseen by the Board of Trustees.

The Trustees appoint members of the IISS Council, the Institute’s intellectual advisory body.[15] Both the Trustees and the Council have an international composition. The Director-General and Chief Executive (Bastian Giegerich) and the Executive Chairman (Sir John Chipman KCMG) both report to the Chairman of the Trustees.

As of February 2024, the Trustees of the IISS were:[16]

The Advisory Council is composed of:[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Contact Us". IISS. Retrieved 18 February 2023.
  2. ^ "The IISS launches The Military Balance 2023, analysing Russia and Ukraine's military forces and China's military modernisation". IISS. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  3. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (7 September 2010). "Al-Qaida and Taliban threat is exaggerated, says security thinktank". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  4. ^ McGann, James G. (31 January 2018). "2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  5. ^ Transparify (16 November 2018). "Pressure grows on UK think tanks that fail to disclose their funders". Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  6. ^ "NATO Defense College and the International Institute for Strategic Studies convene the first NATO-Gulf Strategic Dialogue in Manama". Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  7. ^ "IISS Advisory". IISS. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  8. ^ "FARC files 'show ties to Chavez'". Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Think Tanks". Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  10. ^ "British thinktank received £25m from Bahraini royals, documents reveal Archived 16 January 2023 at the Wayback Machine", The Guardian, 6 December 2016 .
  11. ^ "Our funding", IISS, 10 November 2016.
  12. ^ "IISS activities in the Kingdom of Bahrain", IISS, 7 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Bahrain and the IISS: The questions that need to be answered", Middle East Eye, 9 December 2016.
  14. ^ A Journey Through the Cold War, 2004, p. 64. See also "Conflict: An International Journal", 1987 edition, 85–86.
  15. ^ "The IISS Governance". IISS. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  16. ^ "The Trustees". IISS. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  17. ^ "The Advisory Council". IISS. Retrieved 17 March 2024.