The International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) was established in August 1995 in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) as a direct outcome of the UNESCO Silk Roads Expeditions. The idea of founding the Institute was conceived during the Steppe Route Expedition across Central Asia, one of the expeditions organized within the framework of UNESCO Project "Integral Study of the Silk Roads: Roads of Dialogue", a major project of the World Decade for Cultural Development (1987-1997).
The main objectives of IICAS are to focus on historical and cultural issues relating to the countries of Central Asia, bringing these to the attention of the international community and strengthening collaboration between local scholars and their colleagues abroad through a multidisciplinary study of the region. To date the following countries have accepted the Agreement of the Institute, and consequently have become the Full Members of IICAS: Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Further institutions and scholars are linked to IICAS through a system of Associated Members (public or private institutions and non-governmental organizations of a scientific or cultural nature) and individual Corresponding Members.
IICAS is governed by a General Assembly and an Academic Council, working alongside the Institute’s Secretariat. The 6th session of the General Assembly of IICAS was held at the UNESCO Tashkent Office in December 2007 where, on the proposal of the Academic Council, Mr Shahin Mustafaev from Azerbaijan was appointed Director of the Institute.
In 2013, the 10th session of the General Assembly of IICAS held in Tashkent on December, 17 appointed Dr. Pilho Park as the fourth Director for the term of 2014-2017 on the proposal of the Academic Council.
IICAS has a website and produces a regular Bulletin, as well as other publications. The Institute regularly holds international and regional conferences as well as expeditions.