ICG in 1998: the year in review

The International Crisis Group is a private, multinational organisation committed to improving the international response to political and humanitarian crises through a unique combination of field-based analysis and high-level advocacy.

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The dramatic events of 1998 brought home once again the alarming speed with which long-simmering crises can escalate into full-blown international disasters, with appalling consequences for civilian populations caught in the fall-out.

Analysts of the International Crisis Group spent the year on the ground in many of the world's most unstable trouble spots - from the Balkans to Central Africa, Algeria and Cambodia. Their task: to develop an independent analysis of events and to put forward practical policy recommendations aimed at defusing local tensions and averting the threat of large-scale conflict.

In Brussels and Washington ICG staff worked closely with the world's media and with officials in governments and international organisations to promote ICG's policy recommendations and to push important policy issues up the international agenda. At the same time, ICG Board Members weighed in at a high level to seek political endorsement for ICG's policy ideas.

In the four years since its creation, ICG's coverage, output and influence have grown enormously. Over the course of the past twelve months alone, the organisation has published 44 major reports on eight countries around the world. ICG's findings were picked up as never before in the international media in 1998, while over 175,000 people logged on to ICG's ideas via the organisation's rapidly expanding internet site.

The challenge now is to make ICG a central reference point for government officials and policymakers responsible for managing and responding to complex crises. To this end, we must build on ICG's hard-won track record for candid, practical analysis and step up efforts to mobilise support for ICG's policy prescriptions among key decision-makers.

Our thanks are due to all those who supported ICG during 1998 - to members of the ICG Board, whose contribution to the organisation's work is invaluable; to our loyal donors, both public and private, whose confidence makes everything else possible; and finally to our amazing staff, whose talent, enthusiasm and creativity seem to know no bounds.

Senator George J Mitchell

Senator Alain Destexhe



The ICG idea

At about the time the concept of ICG was first under discussion in the early 1990s, massive humanitarian disasters were unfolding in Africa and the Balkans.

In Somalia, a failed military intervention, led by the United States, left Western governments deeply wary of becoming involved in future conflicts.

When fighting broke out in Bosnia in 1992, instead of acting forcefully to stave off a full-blown war, the international community strove to remain neutral - sending in peace negotiators and lightly armed troops to protect convoys of humanitarian aid.

Again in 1994, as Rwanda slid into genocide, the world seemed transfixed by the spectacle of mass killing, reluctant to move until the worst was over and it was safe to go in with food, blankets and medical aid.

Why were these and other crises not better managed? Part of the answer lies in a scarcity of information - policymakers were in the dark until it was too late to act. But on many occasions the relevant information was available - governments knew what was going on and were aware of the risks. In such cases, part of the problem was attributable to confusion as to how best to respond - policymakers lacked a clear view of the options open to them. Finally, even in instances where it was clear what was needed, governments were nervous to take the plunge - they lacked the necessary political will. ICG's founders saw a need and sought to fill it - creating a 'watchdog' capable of critiquing existing international crisis prevention efforts, formulating alternative, more effective policy prescriptions and advocating those prescriptions forcefully to international policymakers.

The distinctiveness of ICG's approach lies in its combination of comprehensive frontline analysis with high-level, international advocacy of potential solutions. It is an approach that can be broken down into four essential stages:

  1. Teams of expert analysts are posted for prolonged periods to countries in or at risk of crisis

  2. Field teams develop a sustained analysis of key trends and events based on broad-ranging field consultation

  3. Analytical reports containing ICG's analysis and policy recommendations, prepared in the field, are published and disseminated to a targeted audience of international policymakers

  4. ICG staff and Board Members lobby governments, international organisations and the media to attract attention to ICG's findings and mobilise support for policy recommendations.

'It takes ICG to raise such troublesome issues because the other foreign groups that brave the world's trouble spots are generally biased towards discretion.'
The Economist


ICG at a glance

ICG Brussels

The hub of the organisation. From here ICG's international field operations are co-ordinated and all ICG publications edited, printed and distributed. The Brussels office also handles ICG's press relations, liaison with governments, finance, fundraising and special advocacy initiatives.

ICG Washington

Opened in late 1997, ICG's office in Washington DC spearheads ICG's contribution to the foreign policy debate in the American capital - promoting ICG's reports and recommendations among officials of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and the CIA as well as Members of Congress, presidential advisers and the Washington media corps.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

ICG followed up advance warnings of an impending crisis in Kosovo with a series of reports cataloguing events, analysing the strategies of the key players, examining the implications for the future stability of the region and highlighting opportunities to end the conflict.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

ICG's reports on the slow-going peace process in Bosnia are widely read by both Bosnian and international officials. Since early 1996, ICG has produced over 40 major reports identifying potential pitfalls and proposing ways forward.


A series of political and economic crises have left Albania close to collapse on several occasions in recent years. With the risk of renewed anarchy ever present, ICG's reports point to ways in which the international community can best support efforts to deal with the country's key problems.


While Macedonia has so far avoided the kind of conflict that has affected most of the rest of the Balkans, the country faces formidable obstacles before the risk of crisis can be said to have receded. ICG's reports concentrate on threats to stability and strategies to support the country's hazardous transition process.


In the face of difficulties of access and security, ICG has concentrated on mobilising support for Algeria's embattled civil society, particularly the independent press, and on increasing scrutiny of the country's national institutions in advance of presidential elections called for 1999.


ICG's reports on Burundi have provided a rare, candid assessment of the internal political situation, the impact of economic sanctions and the state of the regional peace process.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since the recent fighting in Congo began in mid-1998, ICG has published a number of papers examining the origins of the crisis in the east of the country and the role of both key internal groups and other countries in the region.


Having closely followed Cambodia's recent electoral process and ensuing political crisis, ICG is now focusing on the major domestic policy challenges facing the new government and on strategies for the future provision of international aid.

Some Examples of ICG Advocacy. . .

Burundi: Sanctions Lifted

Millions benefit as regional leaders agree to end the economic embargo on Burundi.

May 1998 ICG report calls for sanctions on Burundi to be lifted, (at the time ICG is the only organisation to argue in favour of such a move).

May-December 1998 ICG campaigns vigorously for a lifting of the sanctions, holding meetings in the region, Europe and the U.S. and publishing opinion pieces in major newspapers around the world.

January 1999 Regional leaders agree to lift sanctions.

Algeria: Independent Press Wins Reprieve

ICG's campaign to end ban on the independent press in Algeria.

November 1998 Algerian government forces Algeria's three leading independent newspapers to close following editorial criticisms of government policy.

November 1998 ICG flies the editors of the three newspapers to press conferences and meetings in Paris and Brussels to protest the Algerian government's action.

December 1998 Ban on all three newspapers is lifted.

Debate On Electoral Reform in Bosnia

ICG paper launches a national debate on Bosnia's electoral system.

March 1998 ICG publishes a report calling for fundamental reform of the electoral system in Bosnia.

April to September 1998 ICG spearheads a national debate on electoral reform.

August 1998 Office of the High Representative establishes the Election Law Working Group - a mixed group of Bosnian and international officials - to prepare proposals for electoral reform.

Decision on Brcko - Bosnia's Northern Flash-Point

Arbitration panel implements key ICG proposals on the future of the disputed north Bosnian town.

February 1998 ICG publishes a report on Brcko calling on the arbitration panel to adopt a package of measures designed to build inter-ethnic trust and pave the way for a final. settlement.

March 1998 The arbitration panel adopts many of ICG's proposals, including an expansion and extension of the mandate of the international supervisor in Brcko and the creation of a special economic zone.

Kosovo: Nato Issues Ultimatum

NATO bombing threat forces Belgrade to the negotiating table.

March-December 1998 ICG releases a stream of reports on the crisis in Kosovo and urges NATO to step up pressure on the Milosevic regime to end the violence in Kosovo and take part in internationally-brokered peace talks.

October 1998 NATO issues an activation order authorising air strikes against Serbian military targets. Ceasefire agreement is signed in Belgrade.

January 1999 NATO backs up Contact Group demand that the warring parties attend peace talks or face air strikes.

'ICG has, I know, done valuable work, particularly in the Balkans'
British Prime Minister Tony Blair


ICG in the Balkans

Kosovo & the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Country report

Europe's last surviving dictator, President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, continued to dominate the news in 1998 - pursuing a violent campaign of ethnic-cleansing directed against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in the face of widespread international condemnation.

The Kosovo crisis dragged on for most of the year, the death toll mounting as the West watched in anger. Over the summer of 1998, more than a quarter of a million people were forced to flee their homes as a result of the fighting. Many spent months without shelter, living in the woods, unable or too frightened to return home. For Milosevic, the crisis has already delivered a valuable political windfall, enabling him to shore up his position at home by installing himself at the head of a national crusade to keep Kosovo within Serbia. Belgrade's independent media and academia have both come under heavy pressure as the regime seeks to manipulate media coverage of events and quash criticism of its policies in Kosovo.

In October 1998, under threat of immediate NATO air strikes, Milosevic agreed to suspend military operations in the province, pull back his troops and special police forces and allow in unarmed international observers. Within a few weeks, however, the ceasefire started to crumble as Serbian forces re-entered the province and engaged in skirmishes with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). As 1999 opened, shocking news footage of another massacre of Albanian civilians by Serbian security forces prompted a renewed flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe and the U.S. finally leading to a NATO ultimatum to Milosevic to send a delegation to negotiate with the Kosovo Albanians or face military action.

In Belgrade, Milosevic spent much of the year tightening his grip on power by ousting independent-minded officers in the security forces and military establishment regarded as posing a threat to his position. Since November 1998, with new, loyal appointees running the security and military forces, he has turned his attention to shifting the nature of political control from that of a police state to outright military dictatorship.

The year ahead promises to be a grim one for Yugoslavia. Milosevic looks set to do all in his power to keep stoking conflict and confrontation around the republic. While Kosovo may remain one of Milosevic's main targets during 1999, the Yugoslav leader can be expected to turn his attention to other parts of the country where opposition to the regime is strong, in particular Montenegro, Sandzak, and Vojvodina. Even after the Kosovo crisis has subsided, the likelihood is that Milosevic, if permitted to remain in power, will continue to exercise a destabilising influence over the Balkans for some time to come.

Project specification

ICG analysts based in Belgrade and Pristina have been monitoring developments in Kosovo and across the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since December 1997. Since early 1998, the principle focus of ICG's work in the country has been the mounting crisis in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo.

ICG reports released in 1998

Kosovo Briefing, February 1998: Released before the upsurge in violence that catapulted Kosovo on to front pages around the world, Kosovo Briefing sounded the warning of impending crisis and set out the issues at the heart of the dispute between the Serbian authorities and the majority ethnic Albanian population. The paper called for increased pressure on Serbia to initiate negotiations with the Kosovo Albanians on a range of contentious issues and set out proposals for encouraging greater contact between the two communities in Kosovo, increasing access to Albanian language news programming and channelling support to the students' movement.

Serbia - the Milosevic Factor, February 1998: ICG's first report on the state of Serbian and Yugoslav politics examined the behaviour of Yugoslavia's president and his management of the mounting crisis in Kosovo. The report set out a package of specific economic and diplomatic measures aimed at forcing President Milosevic to reach a peaceful agreement with the Kosovo Albanian leadership. It also called on Western governments to stem the flow of funds from the Albanian Diaspora to extremist groups in Kosovo, including the KLA.

Kosovo Spring - The International Crisis Group Guide to Kosovo, March 1998: Probably the most widely requested and read report ever produced by ICG, Kosovo Spring is an exhaustive analysis of the issues and the key players in the Kosovo crisis. Released at a time when media and diplomatic interest in Kosovo was surging, the report, later reissued as a book, was rapidly adapted as an essential briefing resource.

Again the Visible Hand, May 1998: ICG's fourth publication on Yugoslavia focused on the evolution of the Kosovo crisis and the role of President Milosevic in stoking the conflict. The report called for NATO to draw up contingency plans for possible action against targets in Kosovo and urged Western governments to freeze the personal assets of senior members of the Milosevic regime in a bid to put additional pressure on the Yugoslav leadership to resolve the conflict in Kosovo peacefully.

Inventory of a Windfall, May 1998: A paper cataloguing President Milosevic's tactical gains from putative peace talks between the Serbian government and leaders of the Kosovo Albanian community.

Kosovo's Long Hot Summer, September 1998: A field briefing on recent military, political and humanitarian developments in Kosovo.

Intermediate Sovereignty as a Basis for Resolving the Kosovo Crisis, November 1998: A detailed legal analysis of the case for granting Kosovo some form of intermediate sovereignty, prepared on behalf of ICG by the Washington-based Public International Law & Policy Group.

Sandzak - Calm for Now, November 1998: A report examining the potential for future ethnic conflict in a little-known region of Serbia touching the border with Montenegro. The report highlighted systematic repression and human rights abuses by the Serb authorities in Sandzak, which contains a large Muslim population, and called for more vigorous monitoring by international agencies and greater pressure on the regime in Belgrade.

Milosevic - Déjà Vu All Over Again, December 1998: An end of year assessment of the Yugoslav regime and an analysis of moves by President Milosevic to consolidate his grip on Yugoslavia's military and security establishment. The report urged Western governments to follow through with earlier threats of military retaliation in the event of future Serbian military offensives in Kosovo or Montenegro and to step up support for political pluralism in Yugoslavia.

'ICG's reports on the Balkans are authoritative.'
Le Soir, Brussels


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Country report

Although originally scheduled to remain for one year only, the NATO-led peace-keeping mission is still in Bosnia three years after the Dayton Peace Agreement came into force. Moreover, there is little prospect of its withdrawal in the near future whilst the country remains at risk of sliding back into war. Despite a prolonged period without fighting and five separate internationally-supervised elections, Bosnia's peace process is far from self-sustaining. Local political institutions remain in a state of deadlock with every decision requiring disproportionate time and effort on the part of the international community.

The enormity of the task is illustrated by the reluctance of refugees and internally displaced Bosnians to return home - particularly to areas controlled by an ethnic group other than their own. Fewer than 52,000 so-called minority returns have been recorded in total since the Dayton Agreement came into force, of which only 2,000 have been Bosniacs returning to Republika Srspka, the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia.

The High Representative in Bosnia, the chief international official in the country, pushed through a series of key measures during 1998 aimed at bringing the country together. These included a common vehicle licence plate, a new Bosnian flag and passport. He has also intervened to dismiss obstructionist officials and, increasingly, appointed special envoys to supervise implementation of the Dayton Agreement in strategic parts of the country. The Office of the High Representative has also begun the systematic restructuring of the Bosnian media, wresting control of the principal television stations from the ruling parties, placing international supervisors in the stations and imposing a new regulatory framework. As a result, Bosnia closely resembles a protectorate in which ever increasing numbers of foreigners are imposing decisions by decree, with the risk that Bosnians may soon wash their hands of the responsibility for restructuring their own country. The annual cost of this holding operation is some 8.1 billion euros/9 billion US dollars.

Project specification

ICG analysts first arrived in Bosnia in February 1996. Since then, an ICG team based in Sarajevo has monitored implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement around the country, identifying key obstacles to progress and advancing strategies for dismantling those obstacles and moving the peace process forward. Over the past three years ICG has produced more than 40 major reports on Bosnia covering a wide range of issues, including elections, political reform, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the resolution of outstanding territorial disputes, de-mining and the ownership of former state assets.

ICG reports released in 1998

During 1998, ICG produced 20 reports and many more briefing papers and shorter statements on the Bosnian peace process including:

Minority Returns or Mass Relocation? May 1998: A 'stock-take' analysis of efforts to return refugees and internally-displaced people to their pre-war homes. The report looked at the barriers facing Bosnian refugees and internally-displaced people seeking to return to their pre-war homes and the steps necessary to dismantle those barriers.

A series of case study reports on the return of refugees and internally-displaced people to eight strategically important regions and the lessons to be drawn from examples of success and failure, (A Hollow Promise? Return of Bosnian Serb Displaced Persons to Drvar, Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoc, January 1998; A Tale of Two Cities - Return of Displaced Persons to Jajce and Travnik, June 1998; The Konjic Conundrum - Why Minorities Failed to Return to Bosnia's Model Open City, June 1998; The Western Gate of Central Bosnia - The Politics of Return in Bugojno and Prozor-Rama, July 1998).

Two reports examining efforts to re-establish the multiethnic character of Sarajevo by encouraging the return of ethnic minorities to the city, (Rebuilding a Multiethnic Sarajevo, February 1998, and Too Little Too Late: Implementation of the Sarajevo Declaration, September 1998). Recommendations covered the reclamation of property, registration hurdles, security, employment, education and religious and cultural facilities.

Brcko: What Bosnia Could Be, February 1998: A special focus report on the northern municipality of Brcko, the disputed north Bosnian town claimed by both Republika Srpska and the Bosniac-Croat Federation. The report called for the town and surrounding area to be awarded jointly to the two Bosnian entities (Republika Srpska and the Federation). Other recommendations included an expansion and extension of the mandate of the international supervisor and the creation of a special economic zone.

Changing the Logic of Bosnian Politics, March 1998: A study of the electoral system in Bosnia and analysis of the impact of the current system on voting patterns and the nature of Bosnian politics. The report examined a number of alternative electoral systems suitable for use in ethnically divided societies such as Bosnia and put forward an alternative system aimed at encouraging the development of greater cross-ethnic political co-operation and collaboration.

Doing Democracy a Disservice - 1998 Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 1998: A detailed report on the September 1998 national elections and the wider issue of governance at all levels in Bosnia.

Changing Course? Implications of the Divide in Bosnian Croat Politics, August 1998: A paper on changes on the political scene within the Croat part of Bosnia. The paper called for more effective support for moderate political candidates, a crackdown on Bosnian Croat criminal networks and increased pressure on Croatia to use its influence to ensure Bosnian Croat compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Impunity in Drvar, August 1998: A report on the reaction of local and international authorities to outbreaks of violence in the town of Drvar. The report included proposals on strengthening law and order, stemming the further influx of Croats to the town and supporting the rights of both Serb and Croat residents to return to their homes.

Two wide-ranging reports on the state of the peace process some three years after the end of fighting in Bosnia, (Whither Bosnia?, September 1998, and To Build a Peace - Recommendations for the Madrid Peace Implementation Council Meeting, December 1998).

The State of the Balkans, November 1998: A report on the state of the region as a whole and the various inter-linkages between problems in one part of the region with those in another. State of the Balkans was prepared by ICG's Sarajevo-based team with input from analysts in Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje and Tirana.

ICG analysts in Bosnia also produced two special reports during 1998 on the situation in neighbouring Croatia. The first, Breaking the Logjam, released in November 1998, dealt with the issue of refugee returns to Croatia. The second, entitled Change in the Offing, released in December 1998, provided a survey of recent shifts in the political scene in Croatia.

ICG's expertise on Bosnia is widely recognised by the international community'
La Libre Belgique, Brussels



Country report

Although not quite as violent and chaotic as the previous year, during which Albania all but collapsed as a functioning state, 1998 was another uncomfortably turbulent year for this impoverished Balkan nation. Security throughout Albania remains very poor with most roads prone to armed attack. The north of the country and many parts of the south are beyond the control of the national government. Organised crime increased significantly in 1998 - particularly smuggling and the trafficking of drugs, weapons, illegal immigrants and women. An estimated 15 murders a month are attributed to the growing drug trade, while over 30,000 Albanian women are reportedly working in the sex industry.

During 1998 the volatile situation in the north of the country was exacerbated by the outbreak of violence in Kosovo in the spring, when thousands of Kosovar refugees flooded across the border into the Tropoja region of northern Albania. At the same time, ethnic Albanian guerrillas from the KLA began establishing military bases in and around Tropoja, the birthplace and political stronghold of Albanian opposition leader, former President Sali Berisha.

The bitter polemics between government and opposition reached a climax in September 1998 when, following the assassination of an opposition Member of Parliament, armed gangs loyal to Sali Berisha staged an attempted coup. Crowds of armed protesters amassed in the streets of Tirana and several public buildings in the city were stormed. The government survived but Prime Minister Nano was fatally weakened and was forced into resigning, having lost the patience and support of both his own party hierarchy and the diplomatic community in Tirana.

The appointment of 30 year-old Pandeli Majko as Albania's new prime minister marked for many a welcome break with the past. Majko's youthfulness means he is one of the few figures on the Albanian political scene untainted by association with the former dictator Enver Hoxha. The new administration scored an early success when Albania's proposed new constitution was narrowly approved by referendum in late November 1998.

However, the government still faces formidable obstacles as it seeks to tackle a host of urgent problems, among them rampant corruption, lack of state authority, lawlessness, drug smuggling, the availability of weapons and the risks associated with rapid urbanisation.

Albania's internal problems are compounded by the threat of Islamic terrorist operations activated from Albanian territory and the Kosovo crisis, which may yet draw Albania into confrontation with Yugoslavia and possibly Macedonia.

Project specification

In early 1998 ICG sent an exploratory field mission to Albania to assess the situation in the country and advise on the utility of longer-term ICG deployment. In June ICG appointed a full-time Albania analyst based in Tirana. To date the dual focus of the project has been on internal political developments within Albania and the implications for Albania's stability of the ongoing crisis in neighbouring Kosovo.

ICG reports released in 1998

Supporting Albania's Long-Haul Recovery, March 1998: ICG's first report on Albania provided a broad overview of the internal situation a year after the political crisis that plunged the country into anarchy in March 1997.

Kosovo - the View from Tirana, July 1998: An analysis of the Kosovo conflict from the perspective of Albania, Kosovo - the View from Tirana described the historical background to Kosovo-Albania relations and the response of the government in Tirana to the mounting crisis in Kosovo. The report recommended assistance for Albanian police patrolling the border with Kosovo, redirection of Kosovo Albanian refugees away from the border to territory controlled by the Tirana government and greater scrutiny of the activities of the Kosovo Diaspora in the West.

Albania Crisis Briefing, October 1998: Released two weeks after Albanian opposition forces mounted an attempted coup and days after beleaguered premier Fatos Nano was forced to resign, this briefing paper provided an analysis of the latest developments in Tirana and the implications for Albania's future stability. The paper called for an international police unit to be dispatched to Albania to work with local police in those parts of the country where the government still retained control and to draw up plans for the deployment of an international peace-keeping force to restore order to northern Albania.

The State of Albania, December 1998: An overview of the Albanian political environment at year's end and an assessment of the key problems facing the government in Tirana. Among other matters the report examined the significance of efforts to restart dialogue between the government and opposition and the impact of continued operations by the KLA in the north of Albania. The report recommended that charges against opposition leader Sali Berisha relating to his role in September's coup attempt be dropped in a gesture designed to encourage greater dialogue between the parties.



Country report

As the one former Yugoslav republic that has managed to keep itself out of the wars of Yugoslav dissolution, Macedonia has often appeared to outsiders as a beacon of hope in the Balkans. Despite difficulties, Macedonia has held together as a country since the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. However, almost everything about the country - from its borders to its language, history and flag, even its name and ethnic composition - is controversial. Hence fears persist about its long-term viability. Inter-ethnic relations in the state - in particular those between ethnic Albanians who make up at least 23 percent of the population, and ethnic Macedonians who make up 61 percent - are poor. In the event of continued fighting in Kosovo and the influx of large numbers of refugees fleeing southward, Macedonia is poorly prepared, despite the presence of UN peace-keepers, and the country's very existence may be imperilled.

At home, the main issues are economic reform and revitalisation and relations between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. Ethnic Albanians demand an improvement in their status, including recognition as a second constituent nation alongside the Macedonians, proportional representation at all levels of the public and state administration and the legalisation of the as yet unrecognised Albanian-language university near Tetovo.

Fall-out from the violence in Kosovo has already been felt in Macedonia. Five bombings were blamed on the KLA; Macedonian police and suspected KLA activists were involved in a shoot-out in September 1998; and the head of Macedonia's intelligence agency has stated on the record that KLA cells are operating in the country. The Kosovo crisis has also contributed to a deterioration in inter-ethnic relations with ethnic Albanians expressing sympathy for their kin in Kosovo while ethnic Macedonians fear the crisis may encourage the Albanian minority in Macedonia to follow the Kosovar example and demand secession from Macedonia.

Macedonian politics was dominated in 1998 by parliamentary elections which took place in two rounds on 18 October and 1 November 1998. After six years in office the government was defeated and a new coalition government emerged comprising former opposition parties, including nationalist parties from both ethnic groups. If the new administration manages to pursue political and economic reform and seriously sets out to resolve inter-ethnic issues, Macedonia could set an example for its neighbours and the rest of the region.

Project specification

ICG's first report on Macedonia was released in August 1997, however it was only in the spring of 1998 that a full-time field presence was established in the country. The main areas of focus in 1998 were elections, held in October and November, and the impact of conflict in Kosovo on inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia.

ICG reports released in 1998

The Albanian Question in Macedonia, August 1998: ICG's first major paper on Macedonia for 12 months, and the first since fighting erupted in Kosovo in spring 1998, explored the implications of the Kosovo crisis for inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia. Among the measures set out in the report were proposals for resolving disputes over the legalisation of Albanian-language education at Tetovo university and encouraging the full and constructive participation of ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia's political system.

1998 Elections in Macedonia, October 1998: An in-depth analysis of Macedonia's 1998 general election. Released in the run-up to the first round of polling, the report examined the policy positions of the main political contenders and the significance of various possible results for the future stability of Macedonia and neighbouring countries. The report made a number of recommendations aimed at maximising scrutiny of the electoral process and called on ethnic Albanian and ethnic Macedonian leaders to work together to create a multiethnic coalition following the elections.

Macedonia Briefing, November 1998: A post-election briefing on the outcome of the Macedonian elections and the likely shape and colour of the new coalition government under formation.

New Faces in Skopje, January 1999: With a new coalition government installed in Skopje, this report looked ahead to the challenges confronting the new administration and the measures needed to help advance Macedonia's difficult transition process. The report called on the international community to work with the new government to further decentralise power to local government, increase the proportion of ethnic Albanians employed in the administration and security forces and make further changes to Macedonia's electoral system.

'It used to be that NGOs could win attention only when war or famine struck and the cameras were rolling. ICG aims to get trouble noticed in time for the worst to be averted.'
The Economist


ICG in Central Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

The latest chapter in the long-running crisis afflicting the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), formerly known as Zaire, opened in late 1997 when relations between the country's leader, President Laurent Dèsirè Kabila, and his Ugandan and Rwandan erstwhile sponsors began to deteriorate. The support of Uganda and Rwanda was a key factor in bringing Kabila to power in May 1997, but both countries soon became disillusioned with what they saw as the Congolese leader's failure to protect their economic and security interests. In a region still deeply affected by the memory of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Kampala and Kigali wanted action to crackdown on rebels, many of them participants in the 1994 genocide, operating from bases in eastern Congo. In addition, the two countries were keen to benefit from greater control over the exploitation of eastern Congo's considerable mineral resources.

On 2 August 1998, barely 14 months after the fall of the late Zairian President Mobutu, a new, armed movement in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the beginning of a 'war of liberation' against the Kabila regime. Tensions escalated as each side sought to organise a new coalition for itself by striking various alliances. Kabila secured the backing of a broad regional grouping encompassing the governments of Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and rebels from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Kabila's Congolese opponents, meanwhile, including some officers of the Congolese Armed Forces, forged an alliance with the Ugandan and Rwandan governments with a view to forming a new politico-military movement whose announced objective is to establish a new government in Kinshasa.

The many attempts to date to find a negotiated solution, mainly through regional organisations, have so far failed to bear fruit. As events unfold, concern is growing that two wars within two years and a systematic recourse to armed force could result in Congo imploding, producing a large-scale human disaster and a zone of major instability at the heart of Africa.



With Congo embroiled in civil war and instability affecting a wider zone stretching from Angola to Ethiopia/Eritrea, Burundi seems to offer a rare source of hope in the region. In June 1998, President Pierre Buyoya announced the establishment of a transitional government based on a power-sharing agreement between the two main opposing parties and a programme of governmental reforms. The same month peace talks between various sides in the Burundian conflict kicked off in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Seven months later, regional leaders judged the talks' progress sufficient to justify suspending the economic embargo imposed on Burundi after Buyoya took power in a coup in July 1996.

However, many challenges to the peace process remain. The security environment within Burundi, though improved, remains poor. The most important rebel group in the Burundi conflict is not represented at the Arusha peace talks. Furthermore, both sides of the Burundi conflict are now involved in the war in neighbouring Congo. The fragmentation of Buyoya's political base, with deep divisions within the ruling Tutsi-dominated UPRONA party and splits in the Hutu-dominated FRODEBU party, also pose major problems. Buyoya's political survival will depend on his ability to reinforce his own political base and convince regional leaders of his willingness to reach a compromise with the armed factions.

Project specification

ICG's project in Central Africa was launched in January 1998 with the arrival of the organisation's first field analyst in Burundi. During 1998, three long-term field analysts were assigned to the project plus a project co-ordinator based in Brussels. Although a relatively new initiative, the Central Africa Project is intended to develop into a major focus of activity for the organisation over the coming year.

ICG reports released in 1998

Burundi Under Siege - Lift the Sanctions, Relaunch the Peace Process, April 1998 (in French and English): An assessment of the performance of the Buyoya government and the political, economic and humanitarian impact of the embargo on Burundi. The report argued that, while the military had escaped the misery that sanctions were inflicting on the broader population, the sense of isolation created by the sanctions had helped radicalise certain elements within the army and the ruling Tutsi elite.

Burundi's Peace Process - the Road from Arusha, July 1998 (in French and English): An account of the first round of the peace talks held in Arusha in June 1998 and of the prospects for the newly-installed transition government in Bujumbura. The report urged the parties to agree a number of measures designed to break the deadlock between the parties and prevent the Arusha talks ending in failure.

North Kivu - into the Quagmire? August 1998: Released within days of the outbreak of fighting in eastern Congo, North Kivu - into the Quagmire? provided an immediate analysis of the origins of the conflict in the province of North Kivu. The report set out a number of recommendations aimed at diffusing tension in the region and heading off a wider war, including sending international observers to the field to deter human rights abuses, drafting in prominent international figures to act as peace mediators and the launching of an investigation into arms trafficking.

Africa Online, October 1998: A directory of over 225 internet sites containing information on Africa. The directory, which contains brief profiles of all sites listed as well as access information, has proved a popular research tool for academics, journalists and political officials alike.

Congo at War, November 1998 (in French and English): With war rapidly spreading throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo at War provided a briefing on the conflict, identifying the key players and analysing their interests.

'I find all ICG publications extremely useful and I would like to congratulate you and your colleagues on the exceptional quality of your work.'
Soren Jessen-Peterson, Assistant U.N. High Commissioner


ICG in North Africa


Country report

On the southern doorstep of Europe, two hours flying time from Brussels, Algeria is the scene of one of the world's most vicious and violent civil conflicts. Over the past five years more than 65,000 people - most of them civilians - have lost their lives in an ongoing stream of terrorist attacks, skirmishes and massacres.

Shocking television news footage of the human carnage has intensified public pressure on Western governments and international organisations to 'do something' to end Algeria's agony and to protect those most vulnerable. However, reaching agreement on what to do has proved extremely difficult, the process hindered by a number of factors. These include the splintered and complex nature of the conflict, the poor level of security for international personnel in the country, the reluctance of the Algerian government to allow foreign organisations to operate and the difficulty of finding an appropriate channel through which to provide help. As a consequence, everybody deplores what is going on but very little is being done to resolve the situation or even to alleviate the suffering of the victims of the conflict.

One problem to be overcome before a more effective strategy of engagement can be devised is the tendency to over-simplify the conflict. All too often Algeria's civil war is presented as a clash between a powerful military regime, with ambitions of pseudo-democratic legitimacy on the one hand and religious fanatics on the other. This view, however, excludes many players. In addition to the more moderate political parties that oppose both the current regime and the radical Islamic alternative, there are numerous groups within Algerian civil society with a potentially important role to play. Operating conditions for such groups are extremely hazardous and occasionally deadly. Yet there are many associations of concerned citizens - particularly women, journalists and academics - who are trying, often heroically, to advance an alternative vision to the Algerian people - one of a tolerant, egalitarian and democratic society. Such groups are almost totally isolated within their own country and receive virtually no support from the outside world. Severely hampered in their efforts by a lack of funds and organisational capacity, they are also subjected to harassment, censorship and intimidation by an intolerant and authoritarian government anxious to stifle dissenting voices.

Project specification

ICG's Algeria project differs from other ICG projects in several respects. Given difficulties of access and poor security conditions, ICG was not able to establish a full-time, on-the-ground presence inside the country until the end of 1998 and was therefore obliged initially to conduct field research based on regular, albeit short-term missions. The lack of a field analyst has inevitably restricted ICG's capacity to gather material and compile detailed reports and the organisation has therefore concentrated on identifying and channelling support to moderate voices and key groups within Algerian civil society, particularly the independent press and women's associations.

ICG reports and other activities in 1998

Between Death Threats and Censorship, March 1998 (in French and English): focused on the plight of Algeria's privately-owned press. The report highlighted the array of obstacles confronting journalists working for Algeria's 12 independent newspapers - including death threats from armed Islamic groups on the one hand and government censorship and restrictions on paper and printing on the other. The report called on the European Union and the wider international community to agree a series of policy measures designed to pressure the Algerian government into easing restrictions on the independent newspapers, as well as to improve conditions for journalists and provide practical support for their work.

ICG arranged and funded three separate visits in 1998 by Algerian journalists and leaders of women's groups to Brussels, Paris and Washington DC to brief Western policymakers on the situation in Algeria and to secure much-needed resources to support their work on the ground.

When three of Algeria's leading privately-owned newspapers were forced to close in November 1998, ICG intervened, inviting the editors of the newspapers to Paris and Brussels and arranging press conferences and meetings with senior government and European Commission officials. The newspapers were allowed to re-open two weeks later.

In the first six weeks of 1999, ICG released two further reports on Algeria - the first an account of the wrestling match between the government and the independent press, the second an analysis of the Algerian National Assembly, the country's legislature.

'We very much appreciate ICG's work.'
Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Wolfgang Schüssel


ICG in Southeast Asia


Country report

1998 was a landmark year for Cambodia. In a bid to end months of political stalemate and international isolation, Cambodia's leader, Hun Sen, promised free and fair elections and the country spent much of the first half of the year gearing up for the poll which took place on 26 July.

Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) began the race with a massive competitive advantage - effective control not only of local government across the country, but of the police, the judiciary, and the National Election Committee. The opposition, handicapped from the start by weak organisation and only partial coverage in rural areas, found itself barred from state media and refused private television and radio broadcast licences.

Polling day came and went and was judged by most to have been a technical success. But problems emerged within days of the close of the polls as the opposition cried foul, alleging ballot-tampering and voter intimidation and complaining that the formula for allocation of seats in the National Assembly had been changed without adequate public consultation or explanation. A tense stand-off ensued, with opposition supporters camped out on the streets of Phnom Penh until the government's patience ran out and troops were sent in to clear demonstrators. Negotiations between the parties broke down and the elections seemed to have ended in failure.

Only a last-minute breakthrough saved Cambodia from a far worse crisis. A power-sharing deal, brokered by King Sihanouk, handed Hun Sen the premiership and divided Cabinet posts between the CPP and Prince Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC. Ranariddh accepted a new position as Speaker of the National Assembly. The government was sworn into office in November 1998.

While the emergence of a new government in Phnom Penh has been welcomed with relief, the range of problems facing the country remains daunting. A row in late December 1998 over whether to arrest and put on trial the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge illustrated the difficulties facing the government as it seeks to reconcile the desire for reconciliation with the need for justice. Other pressing issues to be addressed are continuing political intimidation, a stagnant economy, unrelenting poverty, rampant corruption, general lawlessness, a weak and distrusted judiciary, illegal deforestation, drug trafficking and a cumbersome and ineffective administration.

Project specification

ICG maintained one full-time field analyst in Cambodia throughout 1998, focusing closely on political developments in the country during the run-up to and aftermath of the July 1998 elections.

ICG reports released in 1998

Getting Cambodia Ready for Elections, January 1998: ICG's first report on Cambodia mapped out the political landscape in Cambodia six months ahead of the July 1998 national elections. The report examined the background to the deterioration of Cambodia's political environment since Hun Sen's violent seizure of power in July 1997. It called on the international community to use its leverage to force the Cambodian government to meet specific conditions before agreeing to provide funding and recognition for an electoral process.

Cambodia's Flawed Elections, June 1998: Released just five weeks ahead of polling day, Cambodia's Flawed Elections welcomed evidence of limited progress over the preceding months, but highlighted a number of remaining flaws in electoral conditions, in particular widespread voter intimidation, impunity and restrictions on opposition access to the media. The report urged donors to force a three to four month delay in the election timetable to allow the opportunity to improve conditions and facilitate a freer and fairer poll. Failing this, it called for additional international observers to be sent to Cambodia to maximise scrutiny of the electoral process.

Cambodia's Elections Turn Sour, September 1998: Published against the backdrop of political crisis and mounting civil unrest, ICG's third report contained an assessment of the final stages of the election campaign, polling day and the count. It examined key opposition complaints and the response of the government and official bodies set up to supervise the poll. The report concluded with a set of recommendations designed to break the political impasse, restore cross-party confidence in the political process and facilitate constructive negotiations on the composition and policy programme of the new government.

'I was most impressed by the thoroughness of ICG's analysis.'
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook


1998 advocacy highlights

'The World's 800 most influential'

Copies of ICG reports and policy recommendations are distributed directly to 800 high-level decision-makers around the world by fax, mail or e-mail. The organisation's global distribution system targets officials in national governments and international organisations, such as NATO, the World Bank, the United Nations and the European Commission, as well as journalists, diplomats, parliamentarians and other key opinion-formers.

Private briefings

ICG representatives presented the organisation's findings at special briefing sessions organised for NATO and European Commission officials in Brussels and to foreign ministry advisers in Ottawa, Vienna, The Hague, London, Brussels, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and Paris. In Washington DC, ICG staff regularly provided briefings for Members of Congress and Congressional aides and officials at the World Bank, the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the White House.

Policy seminars

Public policy seminars were held on Kosovo, Bosnia, Algeria, Cambodia and Central Africa in Paris, Brussels and Washington DC. Keynote speakers included ICG field staff, members of the ICG Board and relevant political leaders, including: Kosovar President and Prime Minister Ibrahim Rugova and Bujar Bukoshi; Head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo William Walker; EU Special Envoy Aldo Ajello and UN Special Envoy Ould Abdullah; Congolese Ambassador Kaza Bubu and former Cambodian premier Prince Norodam Ranariddh.

www.crisisweb.org - ICG's website

All ICG reports and press releases are posted immediately on the organisation's increasingly popular internet site, Crisisweb, located at www.crisisweb.org. The number of people visiting the site grew rapidly in 1998 from an average of 2,000 a month in January to more than 30,000 a month by year's end. During the course of the year Crisisweb registered over 175,000 visits. Interestingly, the data on user profiles identifies staff at the World Bank and the CIA as among the most frequent visitors to the site!

News coverage of ICG reports and recommendations

ICG reports and policy recommendations generated sustained media attention during 1998. ICG field correspondents were often quoted in newspaper articles filed by correspondents on location, while ICG representatives in Brussels and Washington DC took part regularly in television and radio news and current affairs programs to discuss developments in Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia and Algeria.

Newspaper articles by ICG staff and Board Members

Articles on Kosovo, Bosnia and Burundi, authored by members of staff and the Board, were published in Newsweek, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, (all U.S.), The Globe and Mail, (Canada), Der Standard, (Austria), Focus, (Germany), Dagens Nyheter, (Sweden), the European Voice, (Europe-wide), Le Monde and Libèration (France), De Morgen, Le Soir and La Libre Belgique (Belgium) and The International Herald Tribune (world-wide). ICG's findings were also covered extensively in local language media in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

'ICG's analytical reports and policy recommendations concerning various conflict and post-conflict countries are highly valued.'
Dutch Minister for Co-operation and Development Eveline Herfkens

Lobbying the international community in Sarajevo

ICG's Sarajevo-based analysts held regular meetings with representatives of the key international organisations involved in implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, (including NATO, the Office of the High Representative, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to highlight ICG's findings and policy recommendations.

Conference on the Bosnian Peace Process

In January 1998 ICG organised a major conference in Vienna on the future of the Bosnian peace process. The conference, entitled Bosnia After Dayton, brought together key European and US policymakers to discuss future options for ensuring long-term stability for Bosnia

Coalition-building with other NGOs

ICG played a lead role working with a coalition of concerned citizens and organisations to lobby the U.S. government in relation to the crisis in Kosovo. Among other initiatives, the coalition sent a letter to U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and, in September 1998, published a quarter-page advertisement in The New York Times newspaper calling on President Clinton to take a number of specific steps to bring the crisis under international control.

ICG launched in Turkey

In November 1998, ICG Board Member Ersin Arioglu arranged and hosted a series of high-profile events designed to present ICG to political leaders, journalists and the business community in Turkey.

Board member visits to crisis zones

During 1998 ICG Board Members undertook trips on behalf of ICG to Bosnia, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Burundi and Cambodia, on each occasion meeting with key political leaders as well as international diplomatic representatives to promote ICG's policy prescriptions.

Video Photo Miranda Video Photo Plane Video Photo Alain Video Photo Soldier Video Photo Charles Video Photo Lateline


Into 1999

1998 was a year of rapid growth for ICG - with field projects established in five new countries, a significant increase in the number of field staff and more than twice the number of reports and papers published compared with the previous year. Over the coming twelve months the emphasis will be on consolidating field operations and strengthening the organisation's outreach and advocacy capabilities. Key priorities include:

In Bosnia

To retain a close watch on the Bosnian peace process, with a special focus on the return of refugees and displaced persons, political and electoral reform, strengthening the rule of law and the role and performance of key international organisations. Among other initiatives ICG will be launching a major new program designed to provide a thorough assessment of the state of Bosnia's judicial system by monitoring local court trials, gauging judicial independence, highlighting miscarriages of justice and measuring compliance with due legal process and principles of justice.

In the Southern Balkans

To continue to provide in-depth coverage of events in Kosovo and international efforts to resolve the crisis there and to track and report on significant developments on the domestic scene in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania and Macedonia.

In Central Africa

To step up coverage of the Central African region, including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries, and to strengthen ICG's field presence by recruiting one, possibly two, additional field analysts.

In Algeria

To report on the upcoming election campaign, to assess the performance of key national institutions, including the parliament and the judiciary, and to continue to support groups within Algerian civilian society, in particular the independent press, women's groups and other civil associations.

In Cambodia

To maintain a watching brief on the situation in Cambodia and to publish occasional reports on key problems requiring the attention of the international donor community.

In Brussels

To create a new research program looking at issues common to many crisis-affected countries. The program will be funded from the Nicholas Hinton Research Fellowship Fund, set up in memory of ICG's founding president.

'The conflict-busters.'
The Bulletin, Brussels

Part 2 of 2

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