History of IIAS

Birth of an Epistemic Community

by Prof. Jacques Ziller

A First Congress of Administrative Sciences, organised during the 1910 World Exhibition was the opportunity to put into place an International Administrative Museum and a Permanent Commission for International Congresses of Administrative Sciences, comprised then of representatives of 22 countries.  A Second International Congress was planned for 1915 in Spain, but owing to the First World War, it was postponed to 1923, in Brussels. In 1925, Belgian diplomacy proposed setting up National Sections that would contribute to a future new periodical.  A Third Congress was held in Paris in 1927, following which the International Review of Administrative Sciences was established in 1928 by a joint initiative of the Permanent Commission, the International Union of Local Authorities and the International Institute of Bibliography. The Swiss section proposed the transformation of the Permanent Commission into a more stable organisation, namely the Institut International des Sciences et de la Pratique Administratives (International Institute of Administrative Sciences and Practice), proposals approved by the Permanent Commission on 22 October 1930. The Belgian Government took the responsibility of providing offices and increasing its annual subsidy by ten.

Institutionalisation of IIAS

The Statutes and the final name of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences were approved by the Permanent Commission in October 1931, approved by Royal Decree of 20 January 1932, and published in the Belgian « Moniteur » of 30 January 1932, on the basis of a 1919 law relative to the establishment of international organisations. The new Institute and its library were set up in a building of the Interior Ministry in Brussels, 6 rue de la Loi. The Fifth Congress of Administrative Sciences was held in Vienna in June 1933.  For the first time, the Congress documents were published in two languages, French and German. The Sixth Congress, the last before the Second World War, took place in Warsaw from 9-16 July 1936. The Institute’s activity between the two wars was also influenced by its cooperation with both the International Union of Local Authorities and the Public Administration Clearing House, established in 1931 and whose offices were at the University of Chicago. Germany became a member of the Institute in February 1937 and succeeded in having adopted that in principle the Seventh Congress would take place in Berlin from 13 to 19 September 1939; a date that was then postponed to June 1940.  One year after the German occupation of Belgium, the Gestapo took over the offices of IIAS and decided to set up an International Academy of the State and Administrative Sciences in Berlin in December 1941, whose activities were extremely limited.

Re-establishing the IIAS

After the liberation of Brussels in September 1944, initiatives were undertaken to re-establish the IIAS.  A first IIAS board meeting took place on 16 January 1946 and a Regional Congress of Administrative Sciences was  organised in Brussels on 24 and 25 June of the same year by the Institut Belge des Sciences Administratives (Belgian Institute of Administrative Sciences) to re-establish contacts with France, Great Britain, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The first International Congress of Administrative Sciences after the war was organised in Bern from 22 to 30 July 1947. This was the opportunity to adopt new IIAS Statutes and its logo, as well as to strengthen ties with UNESCO. As from the Bern Congress, congresses were organised in the official languages of the host country as well as in French and English, which became the working languages of IIAS.  The Statutes were then amended in 1953, with the establishment of a Council of Administration and of an Executive Committee, and the reorganisation of the Permanent Administrative Services as an autonomous body under the supervision of a Secretary General. The Congresses continued to be organised every three years, even as from 1948 Round Tables were held to prepare Congresses; Conferences were held as from 1990, then, as from 1997 specialised International Conferences  and  Regional Conferences were organised.

Towards Globalisation

In 1961 the revised Statutes provided for the establishment of International Sections and their representation on the Council of Administration.  In 1974, the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) was set up as a constituent body of IIAS, continuing the activities exercised since 1962 by a permanent committee, and the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA) became the first regional group of IIAS.  In 1953, the Institute had 20 Member States, 5 outside of Europe, and 21 National Sections; in 1966 the numbers increased to 42 Member States, 22 outside of Europe, and 34 National Sections; in 1998 there were 46 Member States, 28 outside of Europe, and 37 National Sections. The Permanent Commission, predecessor of IIAS before 1930, had 18 Member States; Brazil and the Dominican Republic were the only non-Europeans.  Currently (2009) the IIAS membership includes 34 Member States (4 in Africa, 2 in the Americas, 6 in Asia-Pacific, 4 in the Middle East and 18 in Europe); 30 National Sections (3 in Africa, 2 in the Americas, 3 in Asia-Pacific, 4 in the Middle East, 18 en Europe); 33 Corporate Members (3 in Africa, 3 in the Americas, 6 in Asia-Pacific, 4 in the Middle East, 17 in Europe); and 13 International Organisations.

IIAS-IISA, Administration & Service – 1930-2005 ? Book published for the 75th Anniversary of the Institute on Google Book Search

– The International Institute of Administrative Sciences:  main stages of its history, by Denis Moschopoulos, in the International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 71 (2) 2005.

Former Presidents and Directors General of IIAS

Selection of photographs from the Institute’s archives

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