Mr Herizal Hazri is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. As Chief Executive of Malaysia’s premier think-tank, Herizal is responsible for determining the Institute’s strategic direction. This includes designing ISIS Malaysia’s research and engagement programmes, building its research and policy development capabilities, and developing and managing relationships with the Government of Malaysia, the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), the diplomatic community and other think-tanks in the region and beyond. Herizal also leads the Institute’s Track Two diplomacy through the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS), the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), among others.
Herizal formerly served as the Country Representative (2014-2020) and Deputy Country Representative (2009-2013) of The Asia Foundation in Malaysia, where he was responsible for designing and coordinating the Foundation’s programmes in Malaysia. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as a consultant with several think-tanks and public policy consulting firms internationally as well as in Malaysia. Herizal is known for his civil society development efforts in Malaysia, particularly in the area of human rights and democracy. He has worked in numerous Asian countries to promote development, democracy and security, including Indonesia, East Timor (now Timor-Leste), Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.
In 2004, Herizal managed the only International Election Observation Mission for the Afghanistan Presidential Election and deployed 45 long-term and short-term observers to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. This marked the first time an international election observation team could observe an electoral process in Iran. Herizal has also served as consultant to other international bodies, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
From 2009 to 2013, Herizal served as a member of the International Contact Group (ICG) at peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). There he played a vital role in engaging both parties in the negotiations to maintain their continued commitment to the peace process as well as ceasefire arrangements. Through the peace process, Herizal played a key role through the ICG in assisting the Malaysian Facilitator during the peace talks. This led to the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2013. Backed by this experience, today Herizal continues to contribute to the development of peace in Mindanao through various economic and socio-political approaches. Herizal is also currently following the engagements in the deep south of Thailand and, through his experience and international networks, he intends to support its peacebuilding through various initiatives.
In 2011, Herizal conceptualised a programme on Prevention of Violent Extremism focusing on the east coast of Sabah. The first of its kind in Southeast Asia, this programme focuses on the strength of identity and culture for conflict prevention and mediation. The project is still running today with multiple support from various donor governments. The project covered more than 50 rural villages mainly in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) area and has engaged with more than 5,000 youths and village leaders to date. In 2020, the project led to the establishment of SEAPVEN, a network of grassroots civil society organisations spread throughout Southeast Asia that works with local communities and key stakeholders on the prevention of violent extremism.
Herizal was a recipient of the Chevening scholarship for his post-graduate work in Global Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He was a Fellow of Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (2012) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Fellow at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Tokyo (2013) to engage the IMF and the World Bank delegates at the Annual Meeting on programming in advance middle-income countries to surgically tackle instances of development traps in the middle-income economies. He has published three books on election observation and electoral politics: "Report of the Indonesian Legislative and Presidential Election 2003-2004," "Afghanistan Presidential Election 2004," and "Politics of the Straits: An Observation of the Taiwan Legislative Election."