ICG Progress Report

July 1995 to July 1996



  1. Summary

    The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a private, multinational organisation which aims to strengthen the capacity and resolve of the international community to prevent crises originating from human causes. ICG�s 39-strong board�which includes among its number former prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers as well as prominent figures from business and the media�is committed to using its collective influence to help head off crises before they develop into full-blown disasters.


  2. Context

    In the years since the ending of the Cold War, the international community has repeatedly shown itself to be either unable or�as has more often been the case�unwilling to intervene in impending crises early enough to prevent their escalation. As a result, ethnic tensions, nationalist rivalries and other inter-group struggles have been allowed to boil over into violent clashes which have killed, maimed and displaced millions of civilians and dangerously undermined the health and stability of the international system.

    Each time a new crisis explodes, the international community has found itself under pressure to mount complex and expensive humanitarian relief operations to help clean up the mess and provide comfort and assistance to the victims. In the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide of 1994, for example, over $US 1 billion was spent providing humanitarian aid, mostly food, refugee shelter and medical aid. In 1994, overall expenditure on humanitarian aid topped the $US 4.5 billion mark for the first time. ICG believes that most of this money could have been saved and spent on more constructive projects if only the international community had been quicker in reacting to early warning signs and more prepared to take decisive, preventive action. In recent years, far too much money and effort have had to be spent treating the symptoms of crises�the displacement of civilians, problems of food distribution and so on�while far too little has gone into preventive and remedial action that addresses the root causes of crises.


  3. ICG�s approach

    ICG seeks to break out of this pattern of failure by acting as a stimulus for conflict prevention and international action at an earlier stage. ICG�s approach varies according to the nature of an impending crisis and the type of preventive action required to cope with it. In certain instances, ICG will seek to give greater prominence to information already gathered by other NGOs in the field. In others, ICG staff may be posted to a country for a period to consult widely and produce an analysis. High-profile visits to potential crisis zones by ICG board members may also form part of the strategy.

    Typically, ICG�s approach can be broken down into the following stages:

    1. Identify countries that are on the road to crisis or where there is an existing crisis which could dramatically worsen;

    2. Engage with all the relevant players in those countries - including government and military leaders, opposition groups, business, relief NGOs and religious, ethnic and other groups;

    3. Develop strategic, integrated policy proposals aimed at strengthening local and regional stability and avoiding the development of crises;

    4. Alert the international community to the risk of crises and�via its board of trustees and the media�bring pressure to bear on governments, international organisations and relevant sections of the business community to take timely, preventive or remedial action.

    The international profile, experience and seniority of its board members provide the key that enables ICG to reach and influence decision-makers at all levels of the international community. At the same time, ICG�s private, non-governmental status enables the organisation to avoid many of the political, institutional, and bureaucratic constraints under which other international organisations often operate. ICG will, in many cases, be able to side-step obstacles which often impede official delegations or members of governmental bodies in their efforts to visit and assist trouble-spots.


Summary of achievements

ICG was launched on July 1, 1995. Since that time, the organisation has made steady progress on a number of fronts. The ICG board has held two meetings, an office has been established in London, a team of policy analysts and field staff has been recruited and begun work on a number of core activities and the organisation has embarked on a number of major crisis prevention projects in Africa and the Balkans. These and other key achievements are outlined below.

  1. Organisational set-up

    The following organisational steps have been taken to establish ICG:

    • An international board of trustees has been appointed, chaired by former US Senate majority leader Senator George Mitchell. Other board members include the former French prime minister Michel Rocard, the former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser, executive vice-president of CNN Ed Turner and the American financier George Soros. (A full list of board members is attached to this paper).

    • Two meetings have been held of the ICG board: the first in New York in November 1995, attended by 28 of the 38 members of the board; and the second in London on March 14, 1996, attended by 26 members.

    • A small, core staff of five analysts and administrators has been recruited.

    • A London office base has been established, with plans to establish a second office, in New York or Washington DC, in the second half of 1996.

    • Not-for-profit status has been secured in the United States. An application for charitable status in the United Kingdom has been filed and is currently being considered.


  2. Creation of networks

    ICG was established at least in part to create networks�involving both non-governmental organisations working in the field and academic and commercial crisis analysts�through which information and advice can be gathered and, via ICG�s board and the media, disseminated to decision-makers throughout the international community. Since July 1995, the following steps have been taken towards establishing networks:

    • Following discussions with a number of universities, research institutes and companies, ICG is in the process of establishing a powerful research network that will inform ICG's policy development and country assessment work. The network includes researchers at Harvard, Oxford, Brown, Bradford and George Mason Universities, the US Institute of Peace, the UN University Network on Conflict and Ethnicity, the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict and British Petroleum's Intelligence Division.

    • ICG is working towards setting up two further networks: the first made up of humanitarian NGOs with field staff in a large number of crisis-prone countries; and the second composed of chief executives of large multinational corporations with a presence in potential crisis zones and an interest in preventing crises and strengthening stability.


  3. Policy Development

    Board decisions on the type of role ICG will play in relation to a given crisis need to be made on the basis of high-quality, sound advice. This requires that ICG build up a broad and effective policy research and development capability, capable of providing both ad hoc and ongoing policy advice and identifying, designing and initiating new projects. ICG policy makers have undertaken the following tasks to help ensure the strategic development of ICG policy:

    • A mission statement has been drafted to help define the organisation�s role and responsibilities: "To reinforce the capacity and resolve of the international community to anticipate, understand and act to prevent crises arising from human causes".

    • ICG has approached a wide range of NGOs, governments and international organisations and engaged them in discussion of policy issues.

    • Policy advice has been provided to board members on policy issues as requested, including on Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Bosnia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Liberia and other matters.


  4. Projects

    Sierra Leone Assessment Project

    In November 1995, ICG field staff arrived in Sierra Leone in West Africa to begin a three month assessment mission. Their purpose was to produce a comprehensive analysis of the causes and likely consequences of the crisis facing Sierra Leone and to report on what specific actions the international community should take to help shore up Sierra Leone�s transition to democracy and better governance.

    Staff travelled extensively throughout the country and consulted with a wide range of local people including the political leadership, the military, civil servants and judges, civic leaders, women�s groups, youth groups, community groups, ethnic groups and church groups. They also met with personnel from embassies, UN agencies and NGOs in the field.

    Recommendations were produced, on the strength of which ICG mounted a major advocacy initiative:

    • Governments were approached and asked to contribute funding to enable the country�s first free elections in 25 years to proceed;

    • the ICG chairperson successfully lobbied officials in the US not to proceed with planned cuts in humanitarian and development aid to Sierra Leone;

    • ICG encouraged the international media, led by CNN, to send crews to Sierra Leone to help bring international attention to bear on the situation there.

    Sierra Leone Good Governance Project

    ICG has now embarked on a new project in Sierra Leone aimed at supporting and encouraging good governance in the aftermath of elections. The organisation has brought together local civic leaders to form a new, grassroots movement known as the Campaign for Good Governance. The Campaign for Good Governance is led by Sierra Leoneans but resourced and assisted by ICG.

    Over the next twelve months, the Campaign for Good Governance will implement an extensive program of activities including:

    • hosting workshops for members of parliament, ministers, judges and civil servants ;

    • holding policy seminars;

    • providing training for journalists and editors;

    • mounting a civic education program focusing on state responsibilities and citizen�s rights; and

    • tracking the performance of the new government and publishing a regular Index on Good Governance.


    Building Peace in Bosnia

    In late February 1996, ICG began a 12-month project in support of the international effort to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia. A team of 16 ICG staff are based in Bosnia�their role is to gather information and advise on progress towards implementation of the peace agreement, identifying potential obstacles and devising ways of dismantling them before they have a chance to derail the implementation process.

    Between early March and mid-July 1996, ICG Bosnia issued some 16 reports on various aspects of Dayton implementation. These reports were circulated to members of the ICG board, relevant governments, international organisations, NGOs and the press. On the basis of the reports� findings, ICG staff and board members mounted a sustained advocacy campaign, meeting with key decision-makers to highlight areas where additional resources and/or attention was required and putting forward strategies to prevent a de-railment of the peace process. Issues raised by ICG included the need to arrest and remove nationalist war crime suspects; encouraging and aiding the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons; removing legal and political impediments to reintegration; ensuring that the elections scheduled for later this year militate against rather than confirm ethnic partition; and devising new ways to ensure security and support reconciliation once IFOR�s mandate ends.


    Burundi Advocacy Initiative

    In April 1996, following consultations with UN officials, governments, journalists and many NGOs, ICG published a policy paper on Burundi�a country where between 600 and 1,000 people are being killed every week in a cycle of ethnic violence and where approaching one million people are either refugees or internally displaced. The ICG report assessed the adequacy and effect of the international response to the crisis in Burundi and identified scope for further action on the part of the international community.

    Since the report�s release, ICG staff and board members have argued for a number of steps to be taken to prevent the situation in Burundi spiralling into genocide. In particular:

    1. Political pressure must be kept on the leaders of the region and factional leaders within Burundi to engage in dialogue. In particular, strong pressure should be exerted on Zaire whose role in the crisis is shrouded in allegations that it is actively assisting Hutu rebels stationed in Zaire close to the border with Burundi.

    2. Action should be taken to clamp down on extremists who are trying to turn UN refugee camps into their own private military bases from which to attack civilians in Burundi. To resolve this problem, camp authorities need to reassert their control over the camps, enforce registration, remove identified intimidators, clamp down on military activities and the influx of weapons and restore basic refugee services including education and reconciliation services to refugees.

    3. The international community needs a back-up plan. If the talks fail and attempts to stamp out military activity in the camps do not bring down the rate of violence, more drastic action may be necessary to prevent a genocide. Earlier in the year, the UN Secretary General proposed that a multinational military force be assembled and placed on standby, ready to intervene in Burundi if necessary without the consent of the Burundi government. ICG has supported this proposal from the start and has argued that the United States, while reluctant to provide its own troops for such an intervention, should nevertheless accept responsibility for drawing up detailed and credible operational plans, provide transportation, communications, intelligence and other forms of logistical support and use its international influence to solicit from other countries commitments to contribute the necessary troops and further logistical support.

    ICG has pursued these objectives vigorously, lobbying President Clinton, the Congress, the US Department of State and the Department of Defence to support a more pro-active US policy on Burundi. ICG board members met privately with key Administration officials and placed articles in leading US newspapers. The organisation used its contacts to press for the Burundian/Great Lakes crisis to be placed on the agenda at the 1996 summit of the G7. Finally, ICG provided briefings for journalists and encouraged newspapers and TV networks to send crews to Burundi in a bid to help focus international attention on the crisis.

    These efforts continue.

    Nigeria Policy Research Project

    ICG has commissioned a policy paper on Nigeria that examines the direction of international opinion�both governmental and non-governmental�on Nigeria and considers the costs and benefits of various policy options available to the international community. The paper is due for release in late July 1996.


  5. Promotion and publicity

    The following steps have been taken to promote ICG and publicise the organisation�s role in identifying, analysing and helping to prevent impending crises:

    • Various literature has been published and distributed explaining ICG's mission, development, and operating strategy.

    • Articles on ICG and ICG projects have been placed in newspapers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.

    • Four international press conferences have been held: the first in New York in November 1995 with George Mitchell, Michel Rocard, Steve Solarz and Nicholas Hinton; the second in London in February 1996 with Senator Mitchell, Nicholas Hinton and Sir Terence Clark (ICG Bosnia); the third in Sarajevo with Senator Mitchell and the fourth in Washington DC in June 1996 with Nicholas Hinton and Sir Terence Clark.

    • Various board members have been interviewed by the media in their own countries, leading to further coverage of ICG, its purpose, membership and priorities.


  6. Funding

    ICG �s estimated annual operating budget for 1996 is approximately $4.04 million. This figure presumes that a number of additional policy analysts will be hired and that several new field missions will be initiated.


    ICG must maintain a broad and multinational financial base if it is to function effectively as an independent, professional advocacy body. ICG�s funding and support are drawn from an international constituency spanning both the public and private sectors. National governments, foundations, private companies and individuals have all contributed funds (see table below).


    Public SectorPrivate Sector
    • Australia

    • Canada

    • Finland

    • Japan

    • Netherlands

    • New Zealand

    • Norway

    • Republic of China (Taiwan)

    • States of Jersey

    • United States
    • Daewoo Corporation

    • Soros Fund

    • Nippon Foundation

    • Reebok Foundation

    • Rockefeller Brothers

    • Winston Foundation

    • Westminster Foundation
      for Democracy

    • Charities Aid Foundation

    • Anonymous Individual


1996 Objectives

The organisation will continue to expand and develop over the course of the rest of this year. ICG�s primary objectives for the coming months are:

  • To continue to pursue current missions in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Nigeria

  • To take on between two and four new countries�countries to consider include Georgia, Egypt, Kenya, Burma, Ethiopia and Tanzania, although others will be looked at

  • To expand the organisation�s policy, research and advocacy capabilities through the recruitment of three or four further core staff

  • To open an office in the United States, probably in Washington DC, to facilitate easier and ongoing access to the US political system, the NGO community and UN headquarters.



ICG has made an encouraging start on an enormous task. The initial results of the organisation�s first few field and advocacy projects, in Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Burundi are extremely positive, demonstrating what can be achieved when a small, private, independent organisation works with others at a local and international level. ICG is now set to extend its scope and its capacity�forming new partnerships, taking on new projects and hiring new staff. For this pace to be maintained, however, will require a parallel expansion of the organisation�s financial base. At present ICG receives funding from ten national governments plus a number of charitable foundations, companies and private individuals. The total sum raised so far falls well short of what is needed. Unless new sources of funding are found and unless existing funders commit new funds, the organisation will be severely hampered in its efforts to pursue its mission and achieve its objectives.

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