ESI's main decision-making body is the assembly of ESI Members. The Members elect the three-person Executive Board from amongst themselves and determine the general priorities of ESI research and activities. They pay an annual membership fee and meet at least once a year. Only existing Members can suggest new Members who must receive two thirds of the assembly votes to be accepted.
The Friends of ESI is a less formal group. It includes people who like and support ESI and are ready to provide input and give ideas. There is a meeting of ESI friends once a year.
The range of experience of ESI Members and Friends is one of ESIs greatest assets. The network includes individuals who have worked in different European foreign ministries, for the UN, NATO, OSCE and the World Bank, in cabinets of EU Commissioners, in NGOs and as correspondents for European and American media. They have worked in European countries and the US, but also in conflict zones, from the Balkans and the Caucasus to Afghanistan and East Timor.
Many Members and Friends of ESI have current institutional affiliations and are therefore not directly associated with the views expressed in ESI reports. However, the network is an invaluable tool for bringing together diverse perspectives and experience, for providing feedback on ideas and drafts, and for ensuring that ESI's work reaches key policy makers.