ICG was first conceived in January 1993 by veterans of crisis operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Northern Iraq and Somalia. The concept was then developed for almost two years under the auspices of the President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In April 1993, ICG founders held a small international conference, the first of what transpired to be a series of meetings with senior officials from governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organisations involved in crisis and humanitarian work worldwide. The project benefited enormously in the early stages from these extensive consultations and, as a result, underwent many revisions. The need for a concerted effort in international advocacy was determined to be of the highest priority.
In November 1994, a Steering Committee was formed comprising some fifty international statesmen, former parliamentarians, business executives,and civic and humanitarian leaders and began to consider creating an organisation. Members of the Steering Committee met again in London in January 1995 and agreed to launch the International Crisis Group the following month as a private, non-profit corporation.
An International Board
The renown and international stature of its Board of Trustees bear testimony to ICG's strength of purpose and reach. The Board's independence and top-level experience in a wide variety of different fields give it an exceptional capacity to speak candidly and compellingly to decision-makers and public audiences worldwide.
The Board has played a pivotal role in determining ICG's overall approach. Its ongoing responsibilities include approving and promoting publicly and at the highest policy levels ICG's strategies and recommendations towards particular crises. Trustees also support the President in fund-raising efforts. The Board and President together select those crisis areas that most warrant ICG analysis and advocacy, given that as an organisation ICG cannot possibly operate everywhere.
The Chairman of the Board is US Senator George Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader. There are in addition four Vice-Chairs. The Chair and Vice-Chairs will dedicate time and energy to ICG operations, remaining in frequent direct contact with the President, playing an active role in advocacy work undertaken by the organisation as well as visiting field operations. With the exception of the Chair and Vice-Chairs, Trustees receive no remuneration, although expenses are reimbursed. The full Board meets twice a year, a third of serving members constituting a quorum, with the President an ex-officio member.
ICG's President and Staff
ICG's President has the pivotal responsibility for shaping and developing the organisation, ensuring that it operates satisfactorily and that it works in concert with other institutions. Nicholas Hinton became the Founding President in July 1995, having been Director-General of Save the Children Fund in the United Kingdom since 1985. His experience as the head of one of the world's foremost international non-governmental organisations was vital to the development of ICG's work throughout the organisation's first two years of existence, until his death in January 1997.
Morton Abramowitz, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a key figure within ICG's international advocacy network, served as interim President in the difficult period immediately after Nicholas's death.
ICG's new President, Alain Destexhe, took office in September 1997.
The President oversees all ICG operations and programmes, communicating with the Board on a regular basis. He spearheads the organisation's efforts in high-level advocacy and public outreach, is responsible for its legal probity and, by virtue of his overall responsibility for ICG's fundraising efforts, its financial soundness. The President's primary task, however, together with the Board, is to determine strategy and the recommendations put forward by ICG in relation to specific crises.
ICG staff administer the organisation, support the work of the Board of Trustees and promulgate ICG reports and recommendations to a broad audience. They are dedicated professionals with extensive experience in advocacy and law, politics, the private sector, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, human rights, and regional studies. Some may serve on secondment from UN agencies, governments, private companies and NGOs. ICG recruits worldwide, but does not select employees according to any geographic or other quota system. Its sole interest is in hiring those individuals best qualified for the job.
An International Network & Advisory Group
Vitally important to the way in which ICG functions are its continuous seeking after different perspectives on situations and its constant striving to build strategic alliances and co-operative relations with other organisations within the crisis response community. They enable ICG to help communicate collective insights to policy-makers, journalists, key members of different publics and, through a carefully maintained network, to the most influential opinion-leaders around the world. Consistent with this approach, leaders of major non-governmental organisations, those with top-level governmental and inter-governmental experience as well as grassroots activists will from time to time be invited to join an Advisory Group and periodically to assemble for consultations.
ICG also maintains an international network to facilitate the two-way flow between itself and a host of other international bodies of information and proposals for action on developing or ongoing crises. An important part of the job for ICG's analysts and publications staff is to prepare on a regular basis a range of materials for network use: policy papers, periodic reports on individual crises and operations, media briefs, and specialised analyses. Networking of this kind can be helpful in building an international coalition of support for ICG strategies and recommendations and when used effectively can often lend weight to urgent signals and recommendations from non-governmental organisations, national governments, regional bodies and multi-lateral institutions.
All funding is sought on a "no strings attached" basis with the exception that public acknowledgement of support, if requested, is freely given. Donations are sought from the widest possible range of sources, including individuals, foundations, national and multi-national corporations and governments. A broad, diversified funding base is considered essential to protect ICG from over-reliance on individual donors, whether public or private.