International Crisis Group

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International Crisis Group
Logo International Crisis Group.svg
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 (ICG) is a conflict-prevention non-profit, non-governmental organization 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] All its reports and conflict alerts, as well as the monthly CrisisWatch bulletin, are publicly available.


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[2]

The founding of the ICG was based on a chance meeting in January 1993 between former US diplomat and then-President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Morton I. Abramowitz and 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, who made significant contributions in disaster relief in Bosnia, was brought on board later that year, but his participation in ICG was cut short by his death in 1995.[2]

Plans for the ICG were announced by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in November 1994, 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. It was formally registered in the US as a tax-exempt non-profit organisation in mid-1995.[2] 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]

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] 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] She was succeeded in September 2014 by Jean-Marie Guéhenno.

Organization and purpose[edit]

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.

The International Crisis Group has offices or representation 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 gather, the organization creates analytical reports with recommendations targeted at world leaders and organizations.


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. Philanthropist George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute, is on the Board of Trustees. Its Advisory Council includes corporations like Chevron and Shell. Crisis Group is sometimes accused of serving the interests of corporate or government funders.


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.[3]

The 2013 joint award to Brazil's ex-President Lula and Burma's President Thein Sein[3] caused controversy due to Burma's human rights record, with the award ceremony coinciding with the publication of a Human Rights Watch report alleging ethnic cleansing by Thein Sein's administration.[4][5][6]


Crisis Group's international headquarters are in Brussels, with advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is based as a legal entity), New York, London and Moscow. The organisation currently operates field offices in Abuja, Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut, Bishkek, Bogotá, Bujumbura, Cairo, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Gaza, Guatemala City, Islamabad, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Kabul, Mexico City, Nairobi, Port-au-Prince, Pristina, Rabat, Sanaa, Seoul, Tbilisi and Tunis.

Countries and territories with ongoing Crisis Group activity[edit]

Crisis Group is also currently covering some 70 areas of actual or potential conflict (through analysts operating from regional or field bases, or consultants).

Officers and staff[edit]

Crisis Group is co-chaired by Mark Malloch Brown and Ghassan Salamé.

Its President and Chief Executive as of September 2014 is 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 former Foreign Minister of Australia, Gareth Evans.

Board of Trustees[edit]

As of January 2014[7]


There have been some critiques on the independence of Crisis Group's board members[8] and of the ICG for serving Western interests.[9] A special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together a number[which?] of critiques of the organisation from the Left.


External links[edit]