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Who is GISF?

At GISF, we craft leading research, host original training and events, and maintain a 'one-stop-shop' for security risk management in the humanitarian sector through our online hub.

GISF is an independent NGO peer support network established in 2006 to provide a platform for global security focal points to share experiences, knowledge and learning. Since then, our membership has expanded to include development and human rights organisations as well as traditional humanitarian members.

Over the past 17 years, GISF has created a centre of excellence that gathers and disseminates good practice in security risk management to improve policy and practice. We collaborate with a range of experts within and beyond the sector to ensure a coordinated approach and maximise gain for the whole sector.

What does GISF do?


We work with international experts to develop renowned good practice guides that influence the policy of countless organisations. Past guides have explored:

  • managing sexual violence against aid workers;
  • security risk management for smaller NGOs;
  • abduction and kidnap risk management;
  • and many more.

As well as this, we explore strategic and conceptual topics through our unique research papers and reports. Topics we’ve covered include:

  • gender and security risk management;
  • managing the security of aid workers with diverse profiles;
  • duty of care;
  • security risk management and religion,
  • determining risk management expenditure.


Every year, we organise two-day members’ forums in spring and autumn. Through peer-to-peer sharing and international expertise, the events offer invaluable learning opportunities.

As well as this, we organise at least four workshops each year – though, in recent years, we’ve been known to run up to 10. Past workshops have covered:

  • running an investigation;
  • leading a crisis management team;
  • managing sexual violence against aid workers;
  • working with partners, and;
  • developing a person-centred approach to security.

Digital resources

With a growing, cross-continental membership, virtual engagement is key to GISF’s work. We run webinars, live-streams and online briefings, as well as our online chat facility.

The GISF Chat allows our members to communicate with the whole network at the touch of a button. The exclusive facility provides a space to:

  • share useful documents and templates;
  • provide updates on global developments;
  • ask questions and request information, and;
  • explore practice and policy on a range of topics through targeted channels.

Our e-library provides constant access to thousands of useful resources for humanitarian security. From reports to training packs, the e-library makes it as easy as possible to find the necessary information when it’s needed.

Online hub

Our website provides access to a wide range of services for all those interested in security risk management, including:

  • free advertisement of vacancies specifically for security professionals in the sector;
  • details of security training courses run by NGO-appropriate providers;
  • virtual and face-to-face events that cover a variety of topics linked with improving security risk management;
  • an extensive library of documents and other useful resources, and;
  • a curated themes page providing guidance on a range of emerging and foundational topics.

The site also houses a members’ area, which provides tailored opportunities for knowledge-sharing within our core network.

How does GISF work?

Although we’re hosted by one of our member organisations, GISF operates as an independent platform. We receive funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID/OFDA), and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). Together with member contributions, GISF has an annual turnover of approximately €450,000.

A team of staff make up the GISF Secretariat. Based in London, UK, the Secretariat handles the organisation’s day-to-day functioning. A US office based in Washington, D.C. also supports our growing membership in the Americas.

Our Steering Group, composed of up to ten members, leads GISF’s strategic direction. The group is chaired by Phil Candy of Medair, and its current members are:

  • Frances Andrews | World Vision International
  • Frederic Bardou | Action Contre la Faim
  • Javier Teofilo-Sanchez | MAG International
  • Marcial Rodriguez | Medicos del Mundo
  • Marek Stys | People In Need
  • Oliver Sudbrink | GIZ
  • Scott Ruddick | MEDA
  • Shannon Fariel-Mureithi | ChildFund
  • Toby Woodbridge | Amnesty International
  • Elodie Leroy-Le Moigne | Plan International

Alongside the Steering Group, there is an Americas Steering Committee, composed of five individuals and leads on the strategic direction of the GISF Americas team. The group is chaired by Scott Ruddick of MEDA and its current members are:

  • Scott Ruddick | MEDA
  • Amaury Cooper | HIAS
  • Ben Whelan | Access Now
  • Shannon Fariel-Mureithi | ChildFund
  • Viviana Ardila | IRC
  • Marieke van Weerden | Catholic Relief International

Our Journey: from EISF to GISF

In April 2020, we evolved from the European to the Global Interagency Security Forum, reflecting both our growing membership and our network’s growing reach.

The 1990s

In the 1990s, the number of security incidents involving humanitarian workers saw a notable rise. The people doing some of the most important work, in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, were increasingly being targeted and kidnapped, injured or killed.

In places such as Rwanda, Zaire, the Balkans, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, it became clear that being impartial and delivering a good programme of aid – which had previously afforded some protection – was no longer enough.

The 2000s

In the 2000s, many organisations began to recognise the impact of insufficient security risk management. Programmes were less efficient, interrupted or stopped altogether with aid workers pulled out and operations ceased. In response, they began to create new roles.

However the security risk management (SRM) professionals that were hired often worked in isolation within their organisations and from their peers. Security was often seen as preventing rather than enabling programmes. And while these professionals carried a huge amount of responsibility, they were often not well supported, managed or resourced. This meant that organisations were still unable to identify, mitigate and manage risk effectively.

In 2006, a group of security managers from the UK and Ireland got together to share information and support each other. They began to develop coherent approaches to humanitarian SRM, and effect positive and lasting change within their organisations. This informal alliance evolved into a forum and began to gain the support of the wider sector throughout Europe.

In 2008, they recruited a dedicated coordinator with the goal of supporting each other, leading thought and inspiring action around humanitarian SRM. With this, the European Interagency Security Forum was born as an established network.

“As an original member myself, I needed a group of colleagues and peers to share ideas with, get feedback and advice from, and to discuss difficult, confidential and sensitive topics. The relationships, trust and network that developed through EISF made me a more effective Security Risk Management Adviser and advocate in my own organisation.” Heather Hughes, GISF Deputy Director

With a strategic, inclusive and collaborative focus, the forum created a centre of excellence for SRM in the humanitarian sector, facilitating a peer-to-peer network, building capacity for security risk management, and providing a voice for practitioners.

The 2010s

As the forum evolved, it began to also work with the UN, consultants, the private sector, military, government and academics to facilitate cross-learning. It engaged with non-security professionals in the humanitarian sector to ensure the work remains relevant to the sector as a whole and looks forward to ensure the management of security risks remains proactive and not just reactive. This network of expertise ensures the forum’s research papers, guides and tools are based in reality and useful to practitioners.

In recent years, a growing number of development and human rights focused organisations have also become members as more and more organisations understand how crucial the management of security risk is to effective and sustainable programme delivery. While the programmes organisations deliver may be different, many of the challenges are the same.

In 2019, the membership model changed again in response to growing interest in the United States, Canada and beyond. The European Interagency Security Forum soon became the Global Interagency Security Forum, with a formal re-launch in April 2020.


With a global approach, we welcome member organisations based all around the world. Their different perspectives, expertise and resources make our core activities, such as original research, training courses, workshops and knowledge-sharing, more impactful than ever.

As a result, organisations are able to build their SRM on an even stronger foundation to keep more aid workers safe and enable sustainable access to communities in need.

Join us on our journey towards an ever-more collaborative, innovative and inclusive GISF.


Next: Mission and Values

Achieving access to crisis-affected populations through sustainable security risk management.

Mission and Values