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History of ISOA

Since its founding, ISOA has experienced many changes—some small and incremental, and others large and all at once. In each case, the industry has been the bellwether of change in the stability operations community, ushering in the latest ideas and innovations as client needs change in response to the strong winds of change in peace, stability, reconstruction, humanitarian aid, and development. ISOA has been able to adapt quickly, and provide an industry voice in that community.

ISOA was founded in April 2001 as the International Peace Operations Association, or IPOA, by Doug Brooks after returning from an eye-opening experience in a very unstable Sierra Leone. While in Africa, Brooks collaborated with a group of NGOs, lawyers and humanitarian organizations to codify some basic principles on how the private sector could be ethically utilized and what sort of transparency and accountability should be required of private firms engaged in humanitarian and peace operations worldwide. He then shared this document with the private sector actors supporting international operations on the ground to get their feedback and edits. The companies had no edits to suggest, noting that their internal policies and compliance regimes were already committed to those same principles. Upon returning from Africa, this document became the founding document of ISOA - the ISOA Code of Conduct. With a core founding membership group of 6 companies, all supporting peacekeeping missions in Africa, ISOA members' commitments to this document and ISOA's continued engagement with private sector, government, NGO and humanitarian actors, solidified its place as the only standards-based association of the peace and stability operations industry.

Later that year, the unthinkable would happen, and subsequent and unprecedented international operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would change the face of international operations. By the Fall of 2010, IPOA’s membership had grown significantly to include the full gamut of players in peacekeeping, military services, humanitarian aid and development support, disaster response and reconstruction. To reflect the monumental change in membership since early 2001, the phrase "peace operations” was too limited to describe the important and wide-ranging work that our membership was doing every day. IPOA saw the prevalence of the "stability operations” community that had developed, in which our full membership was playing a part. It was time to reflect that evolution.

The name change of IPOA to ISOA may not seem like that big of a change—one letter in an acronym, to be exact—but it was a reflection of the constant evolution of a dynamic and innovative group of private sector and nongovernmental actors. Since then, ISOA has become more tuned in to the wider needs of our members and their clients, and has been able to react quickly to industry needs.

As the only association uniquely focused on stability and peace operations worldwide, ISOA is poised at the nexus of contingency operations, peace operations, disaster relief efforts, and long term development programs. Instability stemming from any number of destabilizing factors requires a coordinated and adept response led by governments and multinational organizations, and supported by the expertise of the implementing community - our membership.

ISOA looks to the future of this community of policymakers, implementers and everyone in between, who strive every day to create a more stable and peaceful planet. Through our work, we look to continue to be at the leading edge of policy conversations and partnership efforts, facilitating dialogue and cooperation on behalf of our membership - just as our founder did back in Sierra Leone, 15 years ago.

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ISOA is a global partnership of private sector and nongovernmental organizations providing critical services in fragile environments worldwide.

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