The Centro Nazionale di Prevenzione e Difesa Sociale/CNPDS was founded in 1948 by Adolfo Beria di Argentine with the aim of studying the various aspects of crime prevention and helping to define the characteristics and dynamics of social evolution. By targeting emerging social issues, CNPDS was able to raise, through public debate, the awareness of national and international institutions and to focus their interest on the recommendations resulting from its numerous projects. The study and the creation of a crime prevention and social defense system are geared, in particular, towards fostering cultural, social and civil growth in the Italian, European and international society.
From 1948 to the present day, CNPDS has gained more and more importance in the cultural and scientific fields and has played an increasingly active role in the process of the globalization of knowledge, especially within the scope of the projects sponsored by the United Nations. In 1990, ISPAC/International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program was established, with the financial support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The creation of ISPAC, whose headquarters are located in the premises of CNPDS, was based upon the resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in order to create an international council of scientific organizations and academic institutions with a view to strengthening international cooperation in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, by expanding the exchange of information and providing technical assistance and scientific expertise to the United Nations. ISPAC has now over one hundred members which include international scientific associations and non-governmental organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations.
CNPDS has always relied upon the contribution of foreign scholars and scientists, especially after 1989 when, by unanimous vote, it was granted Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
The fundamental principle behind CNPDS activities, both on the national and international level, has always been to thoroughly analyze and explore social issues by means of an interdisciplinary approach and with maximum diffusion of the results obtained. That also explains the unique structure of CNPDS, made up of commissions that include members with a variety of skills and expertise, as well as of its work which is based upon study and research projects, the results of which are publicly discussed and published. Many of the topics debated in the last fifty years (such as the study of economic development, the interaction between law and economy, the advance of social sciences, policies regarding school, education and scientific research, the reform of the regulatory system) have been examined in depth by CNPDS.