German Institute for International and Security Affairs
History, Organization and Functions of the SWP
The German Institute for International and Security Affairs of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) is an independent scientific establishment that conducts practically oriented research on the basis of which it then advises the Bundestag (the German parliament) and the federal government on foreign and security policy issues. The analyses and publications produced by SWP researchers and their participation in national and international debates on key issues help to shape opinion in their respective domains.
The Council (Stiftungsrat) is SWP's highest supervisory and decision-making body. It appoints the Institute's management, approves broad outlines for its research and guarantees its independence. All important decisions are taken by a two-thirds majority of Council members, who include leading scientists, economists and other public figures as well as representatives of various federal ministries and parties in the Bundestag. The Research Advisory Board advises the Institute on all topical and interdisciplinary questions related to its research program.
SWP was set up in 1962 by private initiative in Ebenhausen, near Munich, and given the legal status of a foundation. Late in 2000 its headquarters moved to Berlin, which has been SWP's new home since January 2001. Since January 1965, when the Bundestag unanimously backed the establishment of an independent research centre, the Institute has been federally funded. This support is supplemented by contributions from other research sponsors.
Also after the decision of the SWP Council in January 2001 the SWP in Berlin had been joined by the analysts of the Bundesinstitut für Ostwissenschaftliche und Internationale Studien (BIOst), Cologne, and the department for contemporary research of the Südost-Institut (SOI) in Munich. Since then the SWP became a full-fledged Think Tank covering all countries of the world.
There are currently more than 130 staff working at SWP's German Institute for International and Security Affairs. SWP has eight Research Units employing more than 60 scholars. In 2009, SWP set up a Brussels Office.
The SWP is also aiding and advising governments. The Cablegate leak produced evidence that leading representatives of the SWP (Volker Perthes, its head, and Walter Posch, an expert on Iran) had advised the U.S. State Department to proceed against Iran with a "policy of covert sabotage (unexplained explosions, accidents, computer hacking etc)". These conversations were later linked to the Stuxnet malware attack against Iranian nuclear facilities in June 2010.
In a secret project called "Day After" that was (or is) run by the SWP, since January 2012 up to 50 representatives of the Syrian opposition have been invited for talks in Germany, with the aim to prepare them for forming a new government after the overthrow of the current regime under Bashar al-Assad. "Day After" is co-organized by the United States Institute of Peace, an institution funded by the U.S. government.
Staff and Work Groups
SWP is divided into various thematic and regional work groups. Currently the number of permanent staff is around 50. Thematic foci of its work include European integration, Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Western Balkan region, Security affairs, America, Russia/CIS, Middle East and Africa, Asia, and Global affairs. Beyond these, additional project groups exist. Excluding visiting scholars and researchers on fellowships, SWP employs around 130 staff members. All members of a working group are highly qualified academics with expertise related to the thematic focus of the work groups to which they belong. Among them are political scientists, jurists, economists, sociologists, philologists, and physicists. Besides these, officers of the German military are retained as adjunct members, sharing their expertise in security-related affairs with members of staff. The Institute is headed by Volker Perthes, and its Brussels Office by Roderick Parkes. The President of the Federation of German Industries, Hans-Peter Keitel, is President of SWP's Council. SWP's outgoing Deputy President is the German Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who has been replaced by the current Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery, Ronald Pofalla.
- Zunker, Albrecht (2007) Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) Entwicklungsgeschichte einer Institution politikbezogener Forschung, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin
- SWP eröffnet Büro in Brüssel,Think Tank Directory, May 10, 2009
- US embassy cables: Germany ready to support Iran sanctions (Cable: Berlin, January 21st 2010, Guardian Wikileaks repository: anonymised and highlighted). Link checked on August 11th 2012.
- German Mfa Hope Iran Sanctions Target Leaders Not Masses (Cable: Berlin, January 21st 2010: not highlighted, but also not anonymised). Link checked on August 11th 2012.
- Josh Halliday: "WikiLeaks: US advised to sabotage Iran nuclear sites by German thinktank" In: The Guardian (online), January 18th 2011. Link checked on August 11th 2012.
- "Das neue Syrien kommt aus Wilmersdorf" ("The new Syria comes out of Wilmersdorf"), newspaper article in German. Link checked on August 11th 2012.
- Struktur, www.swp-berlin.org