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Our History


The Australian Institute of International Affairs, New South Wales is Australia’s oldest think tank, established only four years after its parent organisation, The British Institute of International Affairs (now the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House). Archibald Hamilton Charteris, a distinguished member of the British Institute, founded a NSW branch in 1924 after coming to Australia to take up the position of Challis Chair of International Law and Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney. A. H. Charteris’s work combined his academic and research interests in IR with his practical experience in the British Admiralty and Intelligence during the First World War. Crucially for the Institute, he was also dedicated to bringing International Relations to the general public. His public lectures were well attended, and his witty talks on ABC radio made other broadcasters seem “laboriously well-informed, congenitally uninteresting, and cacophonous” by comparison (according W.S. Sheldon’s contribution to The Jubilee Book of the Law School of the University of Sydney 1890-1940, edited by Sir Thomas Bavin).

Archibald Hamilton Charteris went on to become the first president of the newly-formed Australian Institute of International Affairs, a federated body established in 1932 to incorporate the existing Victorian and New South Wales organisations. Today, the AIIA has grown to include seven branches across Australia. Like A. H. Charteris, early members of the AIIA NSW were the leading IR commentators and policy figures of the day, participating actively in International Affairs within governmental and other organisations at the highest level. During its history the AIIA has been honoured by the involvement of many distinguished figures including: Former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, Former Chief Justices Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir John Latham and Sir Owen Dixon, Former Governor General Lord Casey, and distinguished Australians Sir Ian Clunies Ross, Sir Richard Boyer, Sir Russel Madigan and E.C. Dyason.

The world was a very different place when the AIIA NSW began its mission to bring international affairs to the Australian public. Since 1924, Australia has transformed from a colonial outpost of imperial Britain to a truly international actor, deeply engaged with nations and organisations from every continent.  The Institute’s enduring commitment to independent analysis of the most important international issues has meant that the AIIA has continued to develop at the forefront of Australia’s changing role in global affairs.

List of Presidents
1924 Professor A.H. Charteris
1929 Sir George Julius
1930 Mr. (later Sir) A.C. Davidson
1932 Professor A.H. Charteris
1933 Mr. C.W.D. Conacher
1934 Sir Thomas Bavin
1941 Professor (later Sir) Ian Clunies Ross
1944 Sir Alfred Davidson
1947 Mr. (later Sir) Norman Cowper
1949 Mr. D.A.S. Campbell
1950 Mr. (later Sir) H.D. Black
1954 Major-General the Reverend C.A. Osborne
1956 Dr. (later Professor) J. Andrews
1958 Mr. R.F. Holder
1959 Miss H.E. Archdale
1961 Dr. E. Bramsted
1963 Mr. H.A. Manning
1966 Professor T. Stapleton
1969 Miss Aline Fenwick
1971 Dr. A. Fabinyi
1973 Mr. D.J. Russell
1975 Dr. J.R. Angel
1979 Miss Aline Fenwick OBE
1981 Mr. E. Harcourt OBE
1983 The Hon. Mr. Justice K. Enderby
1985 Mr. K.M. Saxby
1988 Professor Ivan Shearer, RFD
1990 Mr. R.A.F. Blunden
1992 Mr. H.D. Anderson, AO, OBE
1995 Dr. Philippe Cussinet
1998 Mr. John Melhuish
2000 Mr. Geoffrey Miller, AO
2005 Mr. Mack Williams
2008 Mrs. Barbara Walsh
2011 Mr. Colin Chapman
2014 Mr. Richard Broinowski
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