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International Crisis Group

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


In many respects the new Group was unique for what it was not: it was not designed to deliver humanitarian assistance; it was not a mediating body; it was not a human rights organisation, and it was not adverse to recommending international military intervention to end conflicts.

ICG, Fifteen Years on the Front Lines, 1995-2010 31 pages, International Crisis Group[2]

The ICG was founded after a chance meeting in January 1993 between Morton I. Abramowitz former US diplomat and then-President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Mark Malloch Brown, then future World Bank Vice-President on a flight to Sarajevo.[2][page needed] 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][page needed] George Soros was involved in discussions early on and provided seed money.[2][page needed] 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][page needed]

In November 1994, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced plans for the ICG, 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][page needed] 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][page needed] From 1996 to 1999, ICG had an annual budget of around $2m and around 20 full-time staff; by 2008 its budget was $15m.[2][page needed]

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



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:

  • Providing early warning in blog posts and social media, in the monthly CrisisWatch bulletin, and through specific "crisis alerts", e.g., in Yemen, Thailand, Somalia and Venezuela;
  • Contributing behind-the-scenes support and advice to peace negotiations, e.g., in Colombia, Burundi, Northern Uganda, and Sudan;
  • Producing highly detailed analysis and advice on specific policy issues in conflict or potential conflict situations, helping policymakers in the UN Security Council, regional organisations, donor countries and others with major influence, and in the countries at risk themselves, do better in preventing, managing and resolving conflict, and in rebuilding after it;
  • Offering new strategic and tactical thinking on intractable conflicts and crises, e.g., on the Iran nuclear issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, internal conflict in Myanmar and Sino-Japanese tensions.


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.[citation needed] 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',[3] where the difference between corporate foundations and 'philanthropic organisations' was not explained. At the beginning of ICG, funding was much less diverse, mainly from co-founder George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute.[4]:551, note 28 ICG has an Advisory Council, which includes corporations like Chevron and Shell. 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. ICG 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, ICG has created analytical reports with recommendations for world leaders and organizations. All reports and conflict alerts, are publicly available.[citation needed] The monthly CrisisWatch bulletin is online since 2003.[5]

As of January 2014 ICG 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.[4] ICG 's website also stated that "of 116 ICG positions on 1 February 2014, 63 were based in the field in 26 locations".[3]

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 ICG'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.[3] The Vice Chair of the Board is Ayo Obe, lawyer, columnist and TV presenter from Nigeria.[3] As of January 2014 the Board consisted of the following "other trustees":[6]


The ICG'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;[why?] Hillary Rodham Clinton; Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martti Ahtisaari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and financier and philanthropist George Soros.[7]

The 2013 joint award to Brazil's ex-President Lula and Burma's President Thein Sein[7] 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.[8][9][10]

Countries and territories with ongoing Crisis Group activity

Crisis Group is currently[when?] covering some 70 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[11] and the ICG has been criticized for "serving Western interests".[12] A July 2014 special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together 10 critiques of the organisation from the Left.[13]


  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k ICG, Fifteen Years on the Front Lines, 1995-2010
  3. ^ a b c d About ICG ICG, accessed 7 April 2015
  4. ^ a b 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
  5. ^ CrisisWatch online, ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015
  6. ^ ICG Crisis Group's Board of Trustees ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015
  7. ^ a b ICG, 26 November 2012, In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner: Peace, Prosperity and the Presidency
  8. ^ William Corliss, Asia Times Online, 22 April 2013, Conflicted peace prize for Thein Sein
  9. ^ Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, 22 April 2013, Myanmar's ruler to get peace prize, despite 'ethnic cleansing' charge
  10. ^ Human Rights Watch, April 22, 2013, Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State
  11. ^ ICG Soros blog 2 December 2012
  12. ^ Stephen Lendman Independent Libyan Fact-Finding Mission January 27, 2012,
  13. ^ 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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