Australian Institute of International Affairs

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Australian Institute of International Affairs
Abbreviation AIIA
Type Independent, non-profit organisation
Services Debate, dissemination, education, collaboration
Slogan Promoting interest in and understanding of international affairs

The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) is a non-profit think tank based in Australia. Established in 1924 and formed as a national body in 1933, the organisation endeavours to promote interest in and understanding of international affairs. It consists of seven independent branches in each state and territory (excluding the Northern Territory), along with the national office located at Deakin, Canberra. It has about 1,600 members.

The AIIA is an independent, non-profit, non-political organisation. Its constitution precludes it from holding or expressing an opinion of its own on any matter of international affairs.

It undertakes to achieve its mission of promoting interest in and understanding of international affairs by promoting debate, disseminating ideas, educating on issues and collaborating with other individuals and organisations.

Notable publications include the Australian Journal of International Affairs, Australia in World Affairs, the Australian Outlook book series and occasional papers.

The AIIA also collaborates with like organisations in other countries, as well as with private and public sector organisations and departments within Australia and abroad.


The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) is an independent, non-profit organisation seeking to promote interest in and understanding of international affairs in Australia.

It provides a forum for discussion and debate, but does not seek to formulate its own institutional views. The Institute arranges programs of lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and other discussions, and sponsors research and publications. The AIIA was formed in 1924 and established as a federal body in 1933 and is the only nationwide organisation of its kind in Australia. It is financed by members' contributions, a small government subvention and tax deductible donations from individuals and businesses.

The AIIA consists of a number of independent branches, which are located in seven Australian States and Territories, and a National Office in Canberra. In addition, close contact is maintained with Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) and with sister institutes and similarly minded organisations around the world.

The AIIA provides a wide range of opportunities for the dissemination of information and free expression of views on these matters through discussion and publication. Precluded by its constitution from expressing any opinion of its own on international affairs, the AIIA provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of a wide range of views. Through the National Office and branches, the AIIA achieves its mission of promoting interest in and understanding of international affairs, including politics, economics and international law, in four ways:

I. Providing a Forum for Debate

The AIIA provides a forum for debate by arranging lectures, seminars and workshops for its members. These range from intimate discussions to large lectures. More than 150 events were held across the country in 2008-2009.

II. Disseminating Ideas

Throughout its history the AIIA has been involved in the key debates of international relations through its publications. The AIIA currently publishes the Australian Journal of International Affairs, the Australia in World Affairs series and occasional papers.

III. Educating on International Issues

The AIIA also works to educate the community on international issues. One of the key areas of focus is on youth.

IV. Collaborating

The AIIA seeks to collaborate with its sister institutes and other organisations in Australia and overseas. By maintaining close relationship the AIIA can assure an international view on current affairs, expand its knowledge and project Australia’s international image.

Organisation: AIIA National Office and Branches[edit]

The Australian Institute of International Affairs consists of seven state and territory Branches, coordinated by a National Office located in Canberra, at Stephen House. This office is managed by the National Executive Director with oversight by a National Executive composed of Branch Presidents and national office holders.

The National Office provides support to Branches, works to coordinate multi-state tours, fundraising and communication infrastructure, and to negotiate nationwide member benefits. It coordinates research and national publications, engages in development activities, hosts a number of interns, organizes policy-oriented events, and houses a library and Conference Centre.

Branches are the primary point of access to the AIIA and are indispensable in providing member programs, discussion forums, special member groups, youth education, career development initiatives, study tours, community education and localized membership benefits.

Throughout its history the AIIA has drawn the involvement of key national figures, including Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, former High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick and former Governor General Lord Casey, among other distinguished Australians. The former Governor-General of Australia, Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC, is the AIIA’s Honorary Visitor.


The Australian Institute of International Affairs provides a forum for discussion and debate by arranging lectures, conferences, and seminars. In providing a forum for debate the AIIA does not formulate its own institutional views but invites speakers to express their own views. AIIA events include intimate discussions as well as large lectures. Each Branch works autonomously on its own program on topics of current interest and the National Office focuses on policy and multi-Branch member events. Through the parallel work of the National Office and the different branches, the AIIA promotes interest and understanding of international affairs. The National Office also assists in organising speakers to visit the varying Branches, referring speakers to them and organizing policy-focused events. Over 150 events were held across the country in 2008-2009. AIIA often partners with other organisations in its events.


Australian Journal of International Affairs

Established in 1946 as Australian Outlook, the Australian Journal of International Affairs (AJIA) is the journal of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and Australia's leading scholarly journal in this area.It is ranked 34 in 2008 ISI World Citation Rankings, with an ImpactFactor score of 0.482.

The AJIA is edited by Professor Andrew O'Neil. The journal is published four times a year by Routledge Taylor and Francis.

Australia in World Affairs

The Institute publishes the definitive series Australia in World Affairs on Australia's foreign policy. This book series has been published since the 1950s and is edited by James Cotton and John Ravenhill.

The current issue Trading on Alliance Security, covering the years 2001-2005, charts the Howard government's response to a particularly demanding external environment, in an era when foreign policy issues had a significant impact on domestic electoral politics.

Policy Commentaries

The AIIA seeks to keep Australian citizens informed on international affairs through its events and publications which provide quick and targeted expert responses on current issues. Accordingly, the AIIA occasionally publishes policy commentaries. These include primary sources and expert opinions on a contested topic of current international affairs.

The AIIA's Policy Commentary published in June 2009 is entitled "Perspective on Pakistan" aiming to raise public awareness of the contemporary Pakistani issues. The Policy Commentary begins with two public statements; one is President Asif Ali Zardari's inauguration speech, and the other is statement by the Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, addressing future relationship between Australia and Pakistan. Thereafter, three experts contribute essays. Ashutosh Misra, Research Fellow at Griffith University, explains democratisation in Pakistan, Happymon Jacob, Assistant Professor at the University of Jammu, discusses contemporary India-Pakistan relations from Indian perspective, and Salma Malik, Lecturer at the Quaid-i-Azam University, forecasts Pakistan-US relations under the Obama Administration.

Emerging Scholars

The AIIA launched a new Emerging Scholars series promoting the work of young researchers in international affairs in November 2007.

The Emerging Scholars series provides a unique opportunity for young researchers to influence debate in the community on a number of important issues. For the authors, it is a valuable opportunity to publish, often for the first time, and to reach an audience of their peers and elders, many of whom are experts in their fields.

Community and Youth Engagement[edit]

Young Diplomats Program

The AIIA encourages young people to actively engage with international affairs, and seeks to provide as many forums as possible for them to do so. In conjunction with James Cook University, AIIA promotes a Young Diplomats Program for students in year 10 to prepare for and conduct mock international negotiations in a team competition. The program was first introduced in 1996 in 11 Townsville Secondary Schools as a joint project of the AIIA North Queensland Branch, James Cook University and the Queensland Department of Education before being also adopted by the AIIA’s Tasmanian and ACT’s Branch. In Townsville, the Program was revived in cooperation with James Cook University, in 2008 with 8 schools participating. The AIIA National Office held a reception for the winners in Canberra and arranged visits to policymakers and Diplomats to add to the students’ experience.

Youth Networks

A number of AIIA Branches offer youth networks for young professionals interested in international affairs including special events, consular visits, youth speakers and mentoring. The AIIA thus fulfils its role in fostering and developing Australia’s emerging young foreign policy professionals.


The AIIA National Office and a number of AIIA Branches offer internships for Australian and international students and graduates throughout the year.

Nygh Internship

The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) and the Australian Branch of the International Law Association (ILA(AB)) fund the Peter Nygh Hague Conference Internship. The award supports a post graduate student or graduate of an Australian law school to undertake an internship with the Hague Conference on Private International Law (the Hague Conference) in the Netherlands by providing funds to cover the cost of travel to the Netherlands and a contribution towards living expenses.

AIIA Fellows Program[edit]

In 2008, the AIIA launched a Fellows Award to recognise individuals who have achieved a very high level of distinction in and made a distinguished contribution to Australia's international affairs. The inaugural group of fellows announced were:

The Casey Library[edit]

The Library aims to support the needs and objectives of the AIIA. The Casey Library is a small, specialised library located in the AIIA National Headquarters, Canberra with holdings in the areas of international affairs and foreign relations. The Library is available for reference to all AIIA members, and to other interested persons by arrangement.

Moreover, the AIIA VIC and AIIA's NSW Branch also have substantial holdings in international relations.

Further reading[edit]

  • Diane Stone, ‘A Think Tank in Evolution or Decline?: The Australian Institute of International Affairs in Comparative Perspective’, The Australian Journal of International Affairs, 50 (2) 1996: 117-36.

See also[edit]

Sister Institutes[edit]

External links[edit]