Manama, Bahrain, 7 December: On 6 December a report was published that called into question the independence of The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The Institute rejects this charge absolutely. The following statement confirms IISS compliance with all reporting obligations in respect of funding and details the nature of activities undertaken in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
IISS funding and public disclosure
The IISS makes no secret that it receives host nation support to cover the costs of the major international conferences it mounts around the world, and affirms its absolute intellectual and operational independence as an international organisation that does not participate in any manner of advocacy.
The IISS accounts for all funding received in full compliance with UK statutory and charity requirements, with annual audited financial statements being lodged with the Register of Companies and the Charity Commission.
All 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.
Support for the IISS Manama Dialogue
In publicly available audited statements, the IISS lists the amounts it receives in annual contracted support to meet the costs of the Manama Dialogue. These include international travel, staging, translation, delegate management and other costs associated with an event that draws many hundreds of delegates from around the world.
The IISS Manama Dialogue brings together regional and extra-regional powers in the Gulf to discuss the most pressing matters of regional security and the international action required to address them. Governments, including those of major powers, and the broader international community, use the platform to make important policy pronouncements and to conduct international defence diplomacy aimed at conflict resolution.
The agreement with the host government for this Dialogue expressly gives the IISS full freedom to develop the agenda and invite participants in line with priorities the Institute judges to be important to encourage strong debate on the issues faced by the region and to facilitate important diplomatic contacts.
The IISS–Middle East office
A further error in the report was to conflate the funding the IISS receives to meet the very substantial costs involved in the Manama Dialogue with the running costs of the IISS regional office in Manama.
The IISS–Middle East office was established with support from Bahrain to cover international security and geo-economic matters of the Gulf, the Levant, North Africa and relations between these regions and South Asia.
That contribution supports some of the costs of the IISS regional office located in Bahrain that has an international staff of experts in various subjects and whose research and smaller conference activities is wholly determined by the IISS as it sees fit.
The funding agreements for all IISS international offices give the Institute full freedom to establish its research agenda, develop its publications programme, hire the researchers it chooses and publish the conclusions they independently arrive at. The authority of the IISS as a truly global think tank derives from the fact that its international offices engage nationals from many different countries whose local and regional expertise is blended with an international perspective and outlook.