International Crisis Group

International Crisis Group
Abbreviation Crisis Group
Motto "Working to prevent conflict worldwide."
Formation 1995
Type International non-governmental organization
Headquarters 149 Avenue Louise Level 14
B-1050 Brussels
Fields International conflict prevention and resolution
Key people
Jean-Marie Guéhenno
(President and CEO)
Mark Malloch-Brown
Ghassan Salamé

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is a transnational non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1995 that carries out field research on violent conflict and advances policies to prevent, mitigate or resolve conflict. It advocates policies directly with governments, multilateral organisations and other political actors as well as the media.[1]


The International Crisis Group was founded after a chance meeting in January 1993 between former US diplomat and then-President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Morton I. Abramowitz and then future World Bank Vice-President Mark Malloch Brown on a flight to Sarajevo.[2] The international community's difficulty in responding to the Bosnian War provided the catalyst for "an independent organisation that would serve as the world’s eyes and ears on the ground in countries in conflict while pressing for immediate action."[2] George Soros was involved in discussions early on and provided seed money.[2] Disaster relief specialist Fred Cuny made significant contributions to disaster relief in Bosnia, and was brought on board later that year, though participation was cut short by his death in 1995.[2]

In November 1994, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced plans for Crisis Group, while former Congressman Stephen J. Solarz toured foreign capitals to promote the new organisation and raise funds, gaining early support from Martti Ahtisaari (President of Finland), Gareth Evans (Foreign Minister of Australia) and Bernard Kouchner (founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and future French Foreign Minister).[2] A January 1995 meeting in London brought many international figures together, and approved a proposal for an annual budget of $8m and 75 full-time staff. In mid-1995 it was formally registered in the US as a tax-exempt non-profit organisation.[2] From 1996 to 1999, Crisis Group had an annual budget of around $2m and around 20 full-time staff; by 2008 its budget was $15m.[2]

Following the death of its first president, Nicholas Hinton, in January 1997 and his replacement by Alain Destexhe, Crisis Group moved its headquarters from London to Brussels.[2] Destexhe resigned in October 1999 and was replaced by Gareth Evans, with Martti Ahtisaari becoming Chairman both from the beginning of 2000.[2] Louise Arbour became president in July 2009,[2] succeeded in September 2014 by Jean-Marie Guéhenno.[3]



The International Crisis Group gives advice to governments and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. It combines field-based analysis, policy prescription, and advocacy, with key roles being played by senior management and board members. By its own accounts, the International Crisis Group plays a major role in four ways:


Crisis Group raises funds from mainly western governments, charitable foundations, companies and individual donors. In 2011/2012, 49% of its funding came from governments, 20% from philanthropic organisations, and 31% from individuals and private foundations. During 2012/2013 "unrestricted income for annual operations" was $18.3 million with total expenditure of $21.9 million, with 49% of funds coming from governments, 23% from individuals and corporate foundations and 30% of 'philanthropic organisations',[4] where the difference between corporate foundations and 'philanthropic organisations' was not explained. In the early stages of Crisis Group's history, funding was much less diverse, mainly from co-founder George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute.[5]:551, note 28 Crisis Group has an Advisory Council composed of three groups named the President's Council, the International Advisory Council, and the Ambassador Council, which includes corporations like Chevron and Shell, as well as some members listed on its website as 'Anonymous'.[6] Crisis Group has been criticised for serving the interests of its corporate and government funders.


Crisis Group's international headquarters have been in Brussels, with 'advocacy offices' in Washington DC, where it has been based as a legal entity, New York, London and Moscow. Crisis Group has had field offices in 30 locations, with teams of analysts dispatched to areas at risk of outbreak, escalation, or recurrence of conflict. Based on the information these teams have been gathering, Crisis Group has created analytical reports with recommendations for world leaders and organizations. All reports and conflict alerts, are publicly available. The monthly CrisisWatch bulletin is online since 2003.[7]

As of January 2014 Crisis Group operated 31 field offices in Abuja, Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut, Bishkek, Bogotá, Bujumbura, Cairo, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Gaza, Guatemala City, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Kabul, Kathmandu, Mexico City, Nairobi, Port-au-Prince, Pristina, Rabat, Sanaa, Sarajevo, Seoul, Tbilisi, Tripoli, and Tunis.[5] Crisis Group's website also stated that "of 116 Crisis Group positions on 1 February 2014, 63 were based in the field in 26 locations".[4]

Officers and staff

Board of Trustees

Crisis Group Board of Trustees has been co-chaired by Mark Malloch Brown and Ghassan Salamé, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences. As of September 2014 Crisis Group's President and Chief Executive was Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. He was preceded by Louise Arbour, formerly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She was preceded from January 2000 to July 2009 by Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia.[4] The Vice Chair of the Board is Ayo Obe, lawyer, columnist and TV presenter from Nigeria.[4] As of January 2014 the Board consisted of the following "other trustees":[8]


Crisis Group's "In Pursuit of Peace Award" was established in 2005, and is associated with a gala event in New York City. Recipients include U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush; Hillary Clinton; Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martti Ahtisaari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and financier and philanthropist George Soros.[9]

The 2013 joint award to Brazil's ex-President Lula and Burma's President Thein Sein[9] caused controversy due to Burma's human rights record, with the award ceremony coinciding with the publication of a Human Rights Watch report of ethnic cleansing by Thein Sein's administration.[10][11][12]

Countries and territories with ongoing Crisis Group activity

Crisis Group is currently covering some 71 areas of actual or potential conflict through analysts operating from regional or field bases, or consultants.


The independence of Crisis Group's board members has been criticized[13] and the Crisis Group has been criticized for serving Western interests.[14]

Moisés Naím, a member of the board of directors of the International Crisis Group served as the Venezuelan Minister for Development for the centrist government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. In 2011 the International Crisis Group released a report intimating that the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro might suffer "unpredictable, possibly violent consequences" if it did not audit the election results in which Maduro won.[15] The election results have been recognized as valid by 170 neutral international observers with the exception of the United States government, who along with allied governments, provides half of the funding for the International Crisis Group.[16][17] au Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive of the International Crisis Group for nine years and former foreign minister of Australia, officially recognized East Timor as a province of Indonesia, a decade after the dictatorship invaded and carried out a genocide of the East Timorese, killing 200,000 according to a report co-sponsored by the Australian Parliament.[18] Evans described the massacre of 200 East Timorese in 1991 by the Indonesian Army as an "aberration," despite widespread knowledge of the Indonesian military's genocide.[19]

A July 2014 special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together 10 critiques of the organisation from the Left.[20]


  1. "It is not a campaign organization in the familiar grass-roots, or now social-media sense, but it is certainly a high-level advocacy one, seeking constantly to communicate directly with government policymakers and those who influence them, and with a strong media profile." - The International Crisis Group: The Role of a Global NGO in Preventing and Resolving Deadly Conflict, Gareth Evans, 17 May 2012
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ICG, Fifteen Years on the Front Lines, 1995-2010. pp. 10-27.
  3. "International Crisis Group announces next President & CEO Jean-Marie Guéhenno - Challengesforum". Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  4. 1 2 3 4 About ICG ICG, accessed 7 April 2015
  5. 1 2 Berit Bliesemann de Guevara Studying the International Crisis Group Third World Quarterly, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 545-562. DOI:10.1080/01436597.2014.924060 Taylor & Francis
  6. "Who Supports Crisis Group? - International Crisis Group". Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  7. CrisisWatch online, ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015
  8. ICG Crisis Group's Board of Trustees ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015
  9. 1 2 ICG, 26 November 2012, In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner: Peace, Prosperity and the Presidency
  10. William Corliss, Asia Times Online, 22 April 2013, Conflicted peace prize for Thein Sein
  11. Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, 22 April 2013, Myanmar's ruler to get peace prize, despite 'ethnic cleansing' charge
  12. Human Rights Watch, April 22, 2013, Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State
  13. ICG Soros blog 2 December 2012
  14. Stephen Lendman Independent Libyan Fact-Finding Mission January 27, 2012,
  20. Knowledge Production in Conflict: the International Crisis Group Third World Quarterly, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 545-722. Taylor & Francis

External links

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