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The Context of Crisis
The challenge of crisis response

The Need for Advocacy
A model for international response to unfolding crises


ICG's Organisation
A brief history of ICG and an overview of the organisation

ICG Governance and Staff
ICG's Organisational structure and staff

ICG's International Board

ICG's Annual Review
Details of ICG's work during 1996-1997


A New Perspective
An introduction to ICG's modus operandi

A New Catalyst for Peace
How ICG aims to enhance and strengthen crisis response

The ICG Approach
ICG's crisis response mechanism


The International Crisis Group (ICG) is made up of concerned individuals from all over the world who are alarmed by the spiralling costs, both human and financial, of the ever-increasing number of conflicts on our planet and who believe that the responsibility for dealing with these problems lies fairly and squarely with the international community. We share the dismay felt by so many of our fellow citizens that our international institutions seem paralysed by a deterioration of political will and authority, a loss of direction and a crisis of confidence. In particular, the great proliferation of man-made disasters which has occurred since the ending of the Cold War has demonstrated quite clearly that the present international crisis response system - a loose amalgam of private groups, governments, and international institutions - is now itself in crisis.

The reasons behind this failure are as complex as the emergencies themselves, but recent events have left little doubt that the will of governments for early and continuing involvement in emerging crises is now seriously deficient. All too often our response amounts to too little too late. This is especially the case in complex emergency situations where more than simply humanitarian measures are required. All too often governments resort to humanitarian measures simply as a means of avoiding the difficult choices which they must otherwise make in order to deal effectively with such emergencies. By so doing they are failing to acknowledge or to understand that humanitarian needs are themselves symptoms of much more complex crises.

A New Perspective

ICG provides a new basis for tackling the current crisis in the international response system. We believe that ICG, with its distinguished and high profile board of trustees comprising former national leaders, parliamentarians, senior government officials, international civil servants, Nobel laureates, senior corporate executives, and well known civic and humanitarian activists, has the authority, legitimacy and credibility to address complex problems. Many are tried and tested within the crisis response community and can therefore engage with the problems from a solid base of collective experience.

ICG aims to plug a gap which hitherto has been filled, on a largely ad hoc basis, by such initiatives as the exemplary Norwegian efforts to break the impasse in the Middle East by providing a framework for peace talks. ICG's role is not to engage in direct negotiations, but to alert governments and the world community when it believes the time is ripe for mediation or other diplomatic efforts on broad or narrow issues, possibly suggesting what forms such efforts might take. ICG field assessments and integrated analyses could, for example, help to inform the work of mediators or other diplomatic personnel.

ICG will also take a broader perspective on events, maintaining a watching brief on the crucial global trends that have made life more hazardous for growing masses of people whilst at the same time contributing to what amounts to an explosion in global expenditure on man-made disasters.The result is a booming, unregulated and reactive industry of humanitarian assistance. By highlighting these mounting and increasingly unsustainable costs, overwhelmingly the consequence of late response to crises by the main international players, ICG will set out to demonstrate that timely expenditure on preventive measures is not simply a moral necessity, but also an economic one.

Mutual aid

It would be unrealistic to suggest that every crisis can be prevented or brought to a speedy and peaceful conclusion by an organisation like ICG working in isolation. For this reason we regard ourselves as investing our efforts and resources towards improving a process, rather than attempting to impose an unwelcome co-ordinating or oversight function. We will also be a highly selective and co-operative body: better to work with others towards a successful outcome in one location than dilute our efforts in too many different parts of the world.

Nor do we believe that, in every instance, it will be possible to persuade governments to engage. It is a fact of life that some crises are extraordinarily difficult to resolve. Many are resistant to comprehensive remedies and require an incremental, ad hoc approach; still others defy solution entirely. But the fact that political resolve maybe difficult to muster on those occasions when crises fail to respond to quick-fix remedies should not be made grounds for believing that certain man-made disasters are beyond the scope of the international community to deal with. Certainly careful analysis of past events and examination of future trends would suggest that the international community should be able to do better than it has and it is from this conviction that ICG was born.

We believe that there is both a need and a niche for a new international, non-governmental organisation capable of bringing together experienced crisis analysts to help shape response strategies and combining their efforts with those of highly placed, influential advocates whose job is to promote those strategies worldwide. It is this combining of skills that makes the ICG approach so special and gives it the capability which does not exist elsewhere for attracting the attention of both the public and the policy-makers in many different countries simultaneously and on a sustained basis.

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