Source description last updated: 15 April 2020

In brief: The Center for Security Studies (CSS) is a center for competence for Swiss and international security studies at ETH Zurich, a Zurich-based university for technology and natural sciences.

Coverage on

Analyses in security policy for countries of priorities A-C.

Quarterly coverage on


“The CSS is a Swiss center of excellence for security-​policy issues with an international outreach. We promote the understanding of challenges and approaches to security policy. We seek to contribute to a more peaceful and secure world. As an integral part of ETH Zurich, we conduct basic research in security policy and train highly qualified researchers and practitioners. As an independent think-​tank, we provide academic expertise in support of Swiss and international security policy and peace promotion activities. We serve as an important link between academia and practitioners and as a point of contact and reference for the wider public.” (CSS website: Mission Statement, undated)

“Research at the CSS focuses on changing threats to states and their societies as well as the ways in which important actors organize in order to face up to these threats.” (CSS website: Research, undated)

“As part of the CSS’ vision of contributing to a more peaceful and secure world, the CSS’ think tank activities aim to improve the quality of Swiss and international security policy and peace promotion activities by providing policy advice on academic research.” (CSS website: Think Tank, undated)


In 2018, the ETH Zurich’s revenue (CHF 1,848 million) was comprised of 72 % (CHF 1,326 million) in federal financial contributions and 28 % (CHF 522 million) in third-party funding. Third-party funding includes research contributions, donations and bequests as well as self-generated revenues. (ETH Zürich: Annual Report 2018, April 2019, p. 76)

“The total contribution from the Federal Government (global budget) provides a reliable basis [...]. Targeted diversification of funding sources, together with the reserves that have been accrued through responsible funding management, allow for more reliable planning and help to keep the university on a sustainable track.” (ETH Zürich: Annual Report 2018, April 2019, p. 77)

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: Worldwide, with a focus on Switzerland.

Thematic focus: Nuclear (weapons) policy, post-conflict studies, security institutions, security technologies, cybersecurity, urban security. (CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019)


The Center for Security Studies “combines research and policy consultancy and, as such, functions as a bridge between academia and practice. It trains highly qualified junior researchers and serves as a point of contact and information for the interested public. [...] The CSS has maintained a strategic partnership with the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sports (DDPS) since 2004 and a similar partnership with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) since 2012.” (CSS website: About us, undated)

“The CSS is committed to researching Swiss and international security issues. Its activities are structured into the pillars of research, teaching and think tank.” (CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019, p. 42)

“The research follows a broad interdisciplinary approach and focuses on six main research areas. [...] We study the theoretical and historical aspects of nuclear arms proliferation and non-proliferation, in particular the role of institutions and regimes [...] We examine the conditions required for sustainable peace following armed conflict [...] We investigate the causes and patterns of changes in security institutions over time. We look at the resulting policies and the way they affect national security. [...] We study the development and deployment of civilian and military technologies in the security sector. [...] We examine how cyber-incidents influence or even transform political discourse by facilitating certain (political) measures. [...] We study issues of personal security and interpersonal violence in urban spaces.” (CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019, p. 4-5)

The CSS lectures “cover all security policy-related topics taught at ETH Zurich.” (CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019, p. 13)

“The think tank activities of the CSS are based on the Center’s academic expertise in the area of security and strategic studies. The CSS provides its analyses and recommendations to politicians, public administrations, other research centers involved in policy consultancy and the general public.” (CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019, p. 18)

“The series ‘CSS Analyses in Security Policy’ has been discussing current developments in foreign and security policy and their contexts in a concise format since 2006.“ (CSS website: CSS Analyses in Security Policy, undated)

“CSS Analyses is edited by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich. Each month, two analyses are published in German, French and English.” (CSS: CSS Analyses in Security Policy; No. 259, March 2020; Ukraine: The Religious Dimension of the Conflict, March 2020, p. 4)

Languages of publications:

English, German, French

Further reading / links:

CSS: Annual Report 2018, 2019

ETH Zürich: Annual Report 2018, April 2019

All links accessed 15 April 2020.