General Secretariat

Protecting Children and Uniting Families Across Borders for 94 years

Governance and legal framework


The 2016 International Council of ISS, which was held in Melbourne April 2016, modified its statutes to better accompany its 2014-2018 Strategy, the new statutes revisit ISS  general structure, roles and responsibilities of its organs as well as some internal functional processes (ISS Statutes).

Three organs with different interconnected mandates assume oversight responsibilities and take decisions as needed in the interest of ISS. Those organs are, the International Council (IC) the Governing Board (GB) and the Secretary General (SG). Two consultative groups complement the statutory organs and they are the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Casework Coordinators (CC).

International Council

The International Council is the General Assembly of ISS and represents the highest decision making body of the network. It meets once every two years and is composed of the President and Directors of ISS Branches and Affiliated Bureaus. The IC could also include a representative from ISS correspondent organizations and honorary members as observers. The IC determines ISS Policy and Objectives.

Governing Board

The Governing Board (GB) is composed of nine members as well as the Secretary General;

  • The International President (independent)
  • The International Treasurer (independent)
  • Six members (of which four are elected among Branches and Affiliated Bureaus’ Boards and two are independent)
  • The Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC)
  • The Secretary General

The GB manages and governs the ISS network in between IC meetings. The GB is led by a Chair who is elected among the GB members. The GB meets two times a year. Among other responsibilities, it considers solutions to challenges facing the ISS organization and examines and approves the budget of the General Secretariat.

Mrs Susan Jacobs                                 Member,Chair of the Governing Board
Vacant                                                 Member International President
Mrs Ursula Roelke                                 Member, Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee
Mr Howard Nadler                                 Member
Mr Alfred Grixti                                     Member
Mr Kenneth Chung                                Member, International Treasurer
Mrs Natascha Retzler-Tavoletta              Independent member
Mrs Marise Dunlop-Stewart-Haefner       Independent member
Dr. Cherrie Short                                  Independent member CBE
Mr Jean Ayoub                                      Secretary General (non-voting member)

Secretary General

The Secretary General is the Chief Executive Officer of the ISS and is accountable to the Governing Board and the International Council. He/she coordinates the programs of the General Secretariat and its activities.
In order to fulfill his/her duties, the Secretary General is supported by the staff and volunteers of the GS.

The Secretary General establishes the structure of the Secretariat, within the provisions of the approved budget.

Consultative Committees

The Professional Advisory Committee

The PAC is composed of Branches and Affiliate Bureaus’ directors. The PAC has many responsibilities among which, to bring forward the collective expertise in the social work area and share good practice for the benefit of the ISS network. Via its chair and representative on the Governing Board, it advises the latter on technical matters arising and participates in the debate at this level. The PAC works closely with the General Secretariat and meets at least once a year. The PAC proposes activities at the international level such as projects and training seminars and participates as needed to International forums. The PAC works with the General Secretariat to build the network’s members’ and overall capacity and to develop its potential as well as its global presence.

List of Professional Advisory Committeee members

The Casework Coordinators' Group

The Casework Coordinators’ group is composed of casework managers within the ISS Branches (B), Affiliated Bureaus (AB) or Correspondents office in direct contact with the ISS network. Coordinators are senior and experienced social workers who manage casework teams on a national level. Among many responsibilities, coordinators oversee and ensure best quality and timely casework management. Coordinators, in collaboration with the General Secretariat undertake training activities in the benefit of ISS professional staff.



Legal framework for ISS actions

ISS legal basis

International Conventions