South African Institute of International Affairs

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"Although founded in 1934, SAIIA’s origins lie in discussions of the Versailles Peace Conference after World War I when international relations and interstate dialogue came to be recognised as a way towards peace.

"In 1934 SAIIA was established as a formal institution in Cape Town, with the objective of furthering the studies of international affairs, with regard to politics, economics and jurisprudence. The first chairman, then carrying the title President, was Sir James Carruthers Beattie, with Professor R.W. Wilcocks and Senator F.S Malan elected as Vice-Presidents.

"During the period before World War II, the Institute had no permanent office and much of its activities were devoted to developing external contacts. SAIIA was often the only institution representing the former colonies in Africa at global conferences like the Commonwealth Relations Conferences. In 1945, the Institute published its first paper, ‘The Real India: A human problem of world importance’, written by Sir Robert Bristow...

"With John Barratt (formerly a Foreign Service Officer at the United Nations) as the institutions then Director General, SAIIA began to strengthen its public reputation by organising a number of conferences and symposia. International intellectual exchange was also prominent as SAIIA maintained links with over eighty similar organisations, academic departments and libraries. SAIIA’s independence of political partisanship remained integral as research, both at headquarters and branch level, continued to produce an objective understanding of often controversial questions...

"SAIIA underwent its own transition as South Africa moved through its political transition in 1994. Dr Sara Pienaar took over as National Director and in the previous year, the South African Journal of International Affairs was first published. Much of the research generated from 1992 to 1994 focused on understanding South Africa’s new position in the world while conferences stimulated dialogue on the future of South Africa’s foreign policy.

"As South Africa acquired new confidence in its relations with the rest of the world, SAIIA too began to broaden its research agenda to include increased analysis of south-south cooperation. Under the inspired leadership of Dr Greg Mills as National Director during the period 1996 -2005, the Institute achieved a new respect in terms of its international profile and became the preferred partner for many leading international think tanks. It consolidated its corporate membership base and developed closer relationships with diplomatic missions in South Africa, several of which would become major donors to the Institute." [1]


Accessed April 2010: [2]

Executive Committee

Members of National Council

Branches (Chairpersons)

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. History, South African Institute of International Affairs, accessed April 6, 2010.
  2. Officer Bearers, South African Institute of International Affairs, accessed April 6, 2010.