RUSI Annual Report 2018-2019

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Highlights from the 2018-19 Annual Report of the Royal United Services Institute.

Research Programme 

RUSI has completed a wide-ranging and active programme of research in the year ended 31 March 2019.  The breadth of its work covers traditional areas of study including defence, national and international security, as well as innovative new areas of research into cyber security and technology, financial and environmental crime.  In 2018-19, the Institute carried out 103 research projects (2018: 126) and gross research income was £7,669,418 (2018: £5,954,573).

Research group highlights

  • RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies addresses the risks posed by financial crime for the UK and international security. In 2018-19, the Centre:


    • Challenged the effectiveness of the UK’s Anti-Money Laundering regime through a research paper, and briefed the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee on the issue.


    • Published a paper arguing that social media companies need to display greater awareness of their vulnerability to supporting terrorist financing.


    • Showed how Communication Service Providers could better deal with the online terrorist threat by learning from longstanding efforts on tackling terrorist financing.


    • Through its  new ‘Financial Crime 2.0’ programme, produced research on the use of data analytics and cyber-dependent financial crime.


    • Advanced the role of the financial sector in reducing human trafficking and modern slavery.


    • Briefed the Houses of Parliament, US Congress, European Parliament and UN on global financial crime.


    • Helped RUSI be a leading authority on sanctions policy (developed with other RUSI research programmes) with the Centre’s research forming the basis of a House of Lords EU Committee report.


    • With RUSI’s National Security Studies group, launched a research and capacity building programme to disrupt illicit funds earned from Illegal Wildlife Trade. RUSI experts from both teams were involved in a high-profile Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in October 2018 hosted by the UK government, and were instrumental in the creation of the Wildlife Financial Taskforce, launched on the eve of the conference by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge.
  • RUSI’s Defence, Industries and Society research group promotes understanding of defence as a complex enterprise, embracing the public and private sectors. In 2018-19, this research group:


    • Published an influential paper calling for a major rethink on housing provision for UK armed forces personnel. The report was taken up in Parliamentary debates and authors subsequently invited to join the government’s Experts Panel Group.


    • Published a major research report on the UK defence industrial strategy, including the economics of UK defence, which significantly helped inform government thinking on the Combat Air Strategy.


    • Led a UK delegation to the Australia-UK Defence and Industry Strategic Dialogue in Sydney, with a second session due to be held in the UK in September 2019. The Dialogue is part of the Australia-UK Defence Ministers’ Strategic Defence Dialogue. 
  • RUSI’s International Security Studies research group analyses security and foreign policy developments in key countries and regions across the world. In 2018-19, this research group:


    • Published a major, globally cited report on Chinese influence and interference operations in the UK, revealing vulnerabilities in academia, politics and technology infrastructure.


    • Helped RUSI be among the first Western think tanks to host policymakers involved in the creation of China’s new aid agency.


    • Highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the UK in China’s Maritime Silk Road Policy, particularly after Brexit.


    • Organised a conference in Beijing in April 2019 on China’s efforts in Afghanistan.


    • With the Military Sciences research group, published a major report and set up an accompanying website on the use of combat drones in the Middle East.


    • Co-hosted bilateral dialogues between Russian and British think-tankers.
  •  RUSI’s Military Sciences research group examines the utility of military power through an examination of policy and practice – from strategic concepts to technical platforms. In 2018-19, this group:


    • Continued research in its Martial Power programme, which aims to provide UK decision makers with a deeper evidence base to feed into the next Strategic Defence and Security Review. This year the research team engaged with more than 9,500 political and military figures around the world.


    • Established the Modern Deterrence project, which has quickly become influential, triggering action by NATO, the Bank of England and numerous European defence ministries who have engaged with RUSI to establish new approaches to defence. 


    • Published new research on UK, French, German and US efforts to produce new combat aircraft and systems. 


    • Organised a unique conference in January 2019 bringing together government and private sector stakeholders to consider space as a critical part of the UK’s national infrastructure.


    • With the International Security Studies research group, published a report and accompanying website on the use of combat drones in the Middle East.


    • Published a paper on Iran’s capabilities and objective, warning of conflict if adversaries overestimate the country’s regional strength and miscalculate their strategic intention of regime survival.
  • RUSI’s National Security Studies group researches major issues such as terrorism, espionage, organised crime, policing and cyber threats, and how best to deal with them. In 2018-19, this research group:


    • Published research and recommendations on machine learning algorithms and policing, which were praised by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick in a public lecture, and reflected in the Police Foundation’s own paper on the topic.


    • With other RUSI research teams, established a major research network on terrorism and technology supported by Facebook, Google and Microsoft.


    • Continued its successful countering violent extremism (CVE) programme implemented on behalf of the European Union in Kenya. A similar programme is now being developed by RUSI on behalf of the EU in Afghanistan.


    • Published a major agenda-shaping paper on the state of the CVE field, identifying challenges and opportunities for donors, implementers and beneficiaries. The paper was launched in New York, Brussels and London with senior level support from the UN, the EU and numerous governments.


    • Convened the Strategic Hub on Organised Crime (SHOC), a unique forum bringing together academic experts, policy makers and practitioners.


    • Published a paper revealing how e-commerce and social media platforms are being exploited for the sale of illicit tobacco products.


    • Launched a major new programme on cyber security, including the publication of a paper on the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre by Robert Hannigan, the former Director of GCHQ.


    • With RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security, launched a research and capacity building programme to disrupt illicit funds earned from Illegal Wildlife Trade in East and Southern Africa. RUSI experts from both teams were involved in a high-profile Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in October 2018 hosted by the UK government.
  • RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy research group tackles a wide range of nuclear weapons issues, from deterrence to disarmament, from non-proliferation to nuclear security. To this established portfolio it has begun to add additional research activity on chemical and biological weapons issues. In 2018-19, this research group:


    • Substantially expanded its flagship next-generation initiative for nuclear scholars and professionals, the UK Project On Nuclear Issues, working closely with partners to help address issues of diversity and inclusion in the field.


    • Working with the Institute’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, developed RUSI into a world-leading authority on sanctions policy and proliferation finance, with its research on the exploitation of the insurance sector by proliferators setting the agenda for government and industry action, and its training on countering proliferation finance delivered in numerous countries.


    • Launched Project Sandstone, an initiative investigating the illicit shipping networks aimed at financing the North Korean nuclear programme, the first report of which revealed connections between Chinese state-owned enterprises and the North Korean arms trade.


    • Published and briefed widely on gradual approaches to denuclearising North Korea and improving regional security.

Leadership Centre

RUSI’s Leadership Centre develops the skills, knowledge and awareness needed for governments and security practitioners in today’s security environment. In 2018-19, the Centre:


  • Delivered a training course on strategic military planning to the Qatar Ministry of Defence. 
  • Conducted an intensive diplomatic training course for the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
  • Delivered a three-week course on Strategic Analysis in Morocco. 

Lectures, conferences and events

Over the year, the Institute has hosted over 157 events (2018: 162), many of which are open to members of the public. 4,800 people (2018: 4,433) registered to attend these events.

Key speakers included: General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff; Air Marshal Phil Osborn, Chief of Defence Intelligence; General Stephen J. Townsend, Commander, US Army Training and Doctrinal Command; Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army; Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO; Ambassador Sarah MacIntosh, Permanent Representative to the United Kingdom’s Delegation to NATO; Chris Coons, US Senator for Delaware; Sir Simon Macdonald, Head of the HM Diplomatic Service; Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence of Estonia; Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons; Admiral Christophe Prazuck, Chief of Staff, French Navy; Nia Griffith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence; Yuval Harari, author and Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary General.

RUSI also had a very busy conference agenda, including annual policy conferences on Land Warfare, Missile Defence and Sea Power and specialist conferences on Artificial Intelligence and Lethal Autonomy; and the role of Space in Critical National Infrastructure.

For the first time, RUSI took part in London Open House, with over 225 members of the public visiting the Institute’s historic building. The Institute also hosted an exhibition showcasing art produced by veterans as well as artists with a general interest in war, conflict and the human experience.

The Institute also organised a series of Breakfast Briefings for its members, and Chairman’s Circle dinners for major stakeholders featuring a range of keynote speakers including: Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to the USA; Patrick Calvar, former director general of DGSI, the French Security Service; Ehud Olmert, Former Prime Minister of Israel and Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ.

Publications and Outreach

The Institute disseminated its research through its bimonthly periodical, the RUSI Journal, the Newsbrief digest and its website, with over one hundred ‘Commentary’ articles. This year we also made the RUSI Newsbrief available as a subscriber product.

In addition, the Institute published 48 reports and papers, the majority of which were freely available to the public. These included:

  • Three Whitehall Papers: ‘Security in Northern Europe: Deterrence, Defence and Dialogue’; ‘Strategic Hedging in the Arabian Peninsula: The Politics of the Gulf-Asian Rapprochement’; ‘Making Mogadishu Safe: Localisation, Policing and Sustainable Security’.
  • Whitehall Reports on Machine-Learning and Policing and Deradicalisation and Disengagement in Somalia.
  • Occasional Papers on Personal Security of People in British Public Life and UK Cyber Security.
  • RUSI's research is widely cited in the media, as are our experts who are the first port-of-call for comment on developing news stories in defence and security. Last year, the Institute had 26,640 mentions in the media (2018: 26,265).


In 2018-19 the website had 514,000 users, up 14% from the previous year. A large proportion arrived at the website via sustained social media campaigns. There were over 65,000 Twitter followers (2018: 53,000) and over 29,000 Facebook “likes” (2018: 28,000).

The Institute also produced a regular stream of multimedia content including RUSI events and short videos with RUSI experts. There were over 162,000 views of RUSI videos on the Institute’s YouTube channel (2018: 131,000). This year we also initiated a new podcast series, In Context, where Director-General Karin von Hippel hosted conversations with key figures in defence, security and business.


RUSI maintains a relationship with a large community of individuals and organisations. RUSI members have access to the very best defence and security analysis and events and are introduced to a network of peers, specialists and decision-makers. Our membership packages are tailored to suit large and small organisations, companies and governments, as well as individuals at various stages in their career.

The individual membership packages range from web-only memberships to standard, platinum and RUSI ambassador memberships, with special rates for Under 35s, Over 65s, students and military officers. For organisations, the Institute offers standard, major and platinum corporate membership packages, and concessionary corporate rates for diplomatic and regimental organisations.

In 2018-19, RUSl's individual membership stood at 1,642 (2018: 1,668). Concession Membership (Under 35, Over 65 and Military Officers) grew to 542 (2018: 530). RUSl's corporate membership grew from 129 last year to 145 this year.

This year RUSI took steps to enhance its membership further by offering, from September 2018, fifteen Continuing Professional Development accredited events.

RUSI Library of Military History 

The RUSI Library of Military History (RLMH) is a unique collection of national and cultural importance, which underscores the Institute's heritage and its charitable purpose to promote and advance Naval and Military History. The collection is dedicated to developing our knowledge of conflict, shaping theoretical approaches to modern defence and security thinking, and engaging more widely in social and cultural discourses.

During 2018-19, the Library initiated various activities, including:

  • World War One: Remembering the RUSI members, who were recipients of the Victoria Cross and were killed in WW1, through a series of articles in the RUSI Journal and the RLMH news on the Library pages of the website.
  • The RUSI Museum, 1831-1962: The RUSI Librarian presented papers on the history of the ‘lost’ RUSI Museum at conferences in 2018 for both the Library and Information History Group and the Museums and Galleries History Group.
  • Open House London: The Library successfully organised RUSI’s first contribution to the internationally significant architecture festival by opening its doors to the wider public and offering a tour that explained the Institute’s role and history through the architecture of Sir Aston Webb and its collections.
  • Biggin Hill Memorial Museum (BHMM): RLMH partnered with BHMM to provide use of the image of the Dame Laura Knight painting of the WAAFs Henderson and Turner on duty in the bunker at Biggin Hill, for use in their museum exhibition and on selected stationery.
  • Digitising the Archive: building on the participative learning of last year’s King’s College London MA Digital Humanities students, this year's cohort for Research Data Management were involved in participative learning creating sustainable data management plans.


In September 2018, RUSI commenced a fundraising initiative to secure £9 million for the restoration, rejuvenation and modernisation of RUSI’s iconic building at 61 Whitehall.   

Led by a fundraising group comprising Lord Hague, Sir John Scarlett, Sir Mick Davis, Karin von Hippel and RUSI’s new Development Director, Paul Summerfield, some success has been achieved in the first six months of activity. As at 31 March 2019, £488,558 has been received (The 1831 Fund and the 61 Whitehall Fund), including a grant of £250,000 from The Garfield Weston Foundation, and significant further pledges have been made.

Section 162A of the Charities Act 2011 requires charities to make a statement regarding fundraising activities. Although we do not undertake widespread fundraising from the general public, the legislation defines fund raising as “soliciting or otherwise procuring money or other property for charitable purposes”.  Such amounts receivable are presented in our accounts as “Donations, grants and gifts” and include legacies.

In relation to the above we confirm that all solicitations are managed internally, without involvement of commercial participators or professional fund-raisers, or other third parties.  The day-to-day management of all income generation is delegated to the executive team, who are accountable to the Trustees.

The charity has not entered into any agreement or undertaking to be bound by any regulatory scheme, and hence the charity does not consider it necessary to comply with any voluntary code of practice.

RUSI has not received any complaints in relation to fundraising activities.  Our terms of employment require staff to behave reasonably at all times; as we do not approach individuals for funds we do not have particularise this to fundraising activities, nor do we consider it necessary to design specific procedures to monitor such activities.

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