Founded in 1971, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has won recognition as an important research and policy institution both within Indonesia and internationally. Its development over more than three decades is entwined with the history of Indonesia itself.
The origins of CSIS lie in discussions and activities in the 1960s undertaken independently by two groups of Indonesian scholars, which comprise of a number of Indonesian graduate students studying abroad and a group of activists within Indonesia. Given the turmoil in Indonesia at that time, both were convinced that insufficient attention was being given to strategic and international studies within Indonesia.
CSIS was established on 1 September 1971. It had the support of the late Ali Moertopo and Soedjono Hoemardani, then personal assistants to the newly elected President Soeharto, and a corporate body, Yayasan Proklamasi (Proclamation Foundation), established to raise the necessary funding. The fledgling organisation numbered six academic staff members and a number of supporting staff.
With rapid expansion in its staff and activities, CSIS quickly outgrew its initial accommodation. Its present building was constructed in 1973 and extended in 1983.
In addition to its core studies in domestic economic and political developments, CSIS has also progressively developed a more international orientation. Bilateral conferences have been organised with a wide range of countries including Japan, the United States, India, France, Soviet Union, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia.
These have provided the opportunity for dialogue and cooperation in research with individuals in parallel institutions (including government officials in a private capacity) as well as for providing input to foreign policy development within Indonesia.
Since the 1980s CSIS has also increasingly contributed to multilateral regional institutions. These include the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific (CSCAP). All of these multilateral regional institutions aimed at enhancing cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Cooperative links with institutions in a number of countries have been a priority.
Growing Diversity of Audience
Since its establishment, CSIS has seen its basic mission in terms of being a vehicle for new and independent ideas particularly within Indonesia. In an era of centralised policy making in the early Soeharto years, this meant (apart from general public education) more of a focus on providing policy advice and ideas direct to government.
With changing developments within Indonesia, CSIS audiences have become steadily more diverse, particularly through the growth in influence of NGOs, civil society groups and the media during the 1980s and after.
Many CSIS staff members also share their knowledge and experience through participation in a range of civil society organizations, including on gender, pluralism, democracy, and governance, and by devoting some of their time to teaching at local universities.