Anton du Plessis

Executive director, Institute of Security Studies

Making Africa safer, fairer and more sustainable is the life work of Anton du Plessis. Being the executive director of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) is the best possible platform available for him to deliver on this passion.

Qualifying in law early into South Africa’s new democracy, Du Plessis was so impressed by Nelson Mandela’s commitment to justice, the rule of law and fairness that he applied to serve in the new government.

He was just 25 when appointed senior state advocate and became the senior manager responsible for the national management of sexual offences courts and the setting up of one-stop rape care centres.

“The work was incredibly fulfilling, but unbelievably draining. I was exposed to the best and worst of mankind on a daily basis, and it had a profound impact on me,” says Du Plessis.

When he joined the ISS in 2003, he realised he could take his passion for justice and the rule of law to a different level, continuing to work on issues in South Africa, but also expanding his work to the rest of the continent.

Beyond his work with the ISS, which is a world leader in providing evidence-based policy advice and capacity-building on issues relating to human security in Africa, Du Plessis also works with other platforms to bring African perspectives to key debates regionally and globally. These include the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

As testament to his leadership, Du Plessis is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and has served as vice-chair of the forum’s Global Agenda Council on Terrorism. He is also a member of its Council on Fragility, Violence and Conflict.

Du Plessis sees his greatest work challenge as achieving a clear and measurable impact in his field, particularly when working on longer-term and politically charged issues such as countering corruption, terrorism and sexual violence.

“You need to be smart in designing and delivering on your theory of change, and then describing this clearly to your colleagues and main partners.” — Linda Doke

Twitter: @_AntonDP