BRICS is a platform for dialogue and cooperation for the promotion of peace, security and development in a multi-polar, interdependent and increasingly complex, globalising world – Delhi Declaration, 27 March 2012

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) was established on 5 December 2013 as an independent statutory body in terms of Gazette No. 37118 vol. 582 and in accordance with Section 69 read with sections 38A, 38B, and 38C of the Higher Education Act (Act No 101 of 1997). The scope or application of the NIHSS will be to advance and co-ordinate scholarship, research and ethical practice in the fields of Humanities and the Social Sciences (HSS) within and through the existing public universities and those to be established or declared in future as public Universities. 

The work of the NIHSS is guided by the following principles: The principle of co-operation between institutions and the establishment of communities of scholarship in South Africa, Africa and international; The principle of norm-driven internationalisation, (co-operation and collaboration will not be for its own sake but on the basis of mutual respect and development); The principle of social responsibility and equity as enshrined or implied in the Constitution, and; The principle of functional differentiation as opposed to resource differentiation. 

The role of the NIHSS is to broadly enhance and support the HSS in South Africa and beyond, as well as to advise government and civil society on HSS related matters. It conduct its work through various programmes, including the Doctoral Schools, Catalytic Projects, African Pathways Programme, and through supporting the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in the implementation of the proposed corrective interventions.

In 2015, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) was requested to be the permanent host of the South African BRICS Think Tank, including the Academic Forum. In February 2015, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Bonginkosi Nzimande gave the NIHSS the function to permanently host the South African BRICS Think Tank.

During 2023, the South African BRICS Think Tank is currently overseen by the interim Chair, Prof Sarah Mosoetsa, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

SA BRICS Think Tank Objectives 

  • Provide a platform for researchers and academics to exchange ideas and to generate evidence-based policy recommendations
  • Shape the strategic vision of South Africa and the wider African region around global financial, economic and governance issues
  • Provide research-based technical and institutional support to the South African government in the formulation and re-formulation of relevant BRICS-related public policies and development programmes
  • Conduct policy analysis aimed at informing the long-term strategy of BRICS
  • Conduct broad-based analysis on the relationships between South Africa and the BRICS countries from the perspective of both South Africa’s national interests, the interests of the African continent and the interest of the BRICS countries.