International Crisis Group

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International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group logo.png
AbbreviationCrisis Group
TypeInternational non-governmental organization
Headquarters149 Avenue Louise Level 14
B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
FieldsInternational conflict prevention and resolution
Key people

The International Crisis Group (ICG; also simply known as the Crisis Group) is a transnational non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in 1995, which describes itself as "working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world".[1]


The International Crisis Group says it provides early warning through its monthly CrisisWatch bulletin, a global conflict tracker it says is designed to identify both risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace; the organisation says it produces detailed analysis and advice on specific policy issues that are affecting conflict or potential conflict situations; and that it engages with policy-makers, regional organisations and other key actors to promote peaceful solutions to major conflicts; and that it offers new strategic and tactical thinking on intractable conflicts and crises.[2]

The ICG differentiates itself from other Western think tanks by stressing its permanent field presence, which forms the basis of its methodology,[3] it has regional programmes covering Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and the United States. As of August 2019, ICG had 110 staff members.[4]

ICG has been described as "a left-leaning advocacy organization."[5]


Investor and philanthropist George Soros provided the organisation's seed funding[a][7] and continues to support it.[b]. The first government representative to offer financial support, of $100,000 was Martti Ahtisaari, in March 1994;[c] that same year, Gareth Evans, as Foreign Minister of Australia, pledged $500,000.[d].

A January 1995 meeting in London brought many international figures together and approved a proposal for an annual budget of $8 million and 75 full-time staff. In mid-1995 it was formally registered in the U.S. as a tax-exempt non-profit organisation. From 1996 to 1999, Crisis Group had an annual budget of around $2 million and around 20 full-time staff; by 2017 its budget had risen to over $17 million. Crisis Group receives funding under grants from governments, charitable foundations, private companies and individual donors. For the financial year ending June 30 2018, it received 45% of its funding from governments, 23% from foundations, 27% from the private sector, 3% from investment income, 2% from in-kind contributions, 2% from program service revenue and 1% from investment income.[9]

Berit Bliesemann de Guevara writes that "the organisation's funding base is arguably not negligible" but that it is "not via the amount of economic capital that the ICG gains its position in the field of conflict knowledge, although money is arguably a necessary condition for its activities and fundraising thus a constant factor in its daily operations and public relations", she notes that "Critics have argued that it is not the amount but the sources of the ICG's funding which have opened Western policymakers' doors to its advocacy, while at the same time (possibly) compromising the ICG's political independence". The ICG, she argues, "has countered the critique of possible donor influences by pointing to the diversity of funding sources and attached interests among Western donors, which at least contradicts the idea of simple, straightforward connections between donors and reporting".[3]


Crisis Group is headquartered in Brussels, with advocacy offices in Washington DC, New York and London. Other legally registered offices are based in Bogota, Colombia; Dakar, Senegal; Istanbul, Turkey; and Nairobi, Kenya.

As of June 2018, Crisis Group has a presence in Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Bangkok, Beirut, Caracas, Gaza City, Guatemala City, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Juba, Kabul, Kiev, Mexico City, Mogadishu, Rabat, Tblisi, Toronto, Tunis and Yangon.  

Board of Trustees[edit]

Robert Malley, who previously served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser, became President & CEO of the organisation in January 2018, his predecessor, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, served as President and Chief Executive from 2014 to the end of 2017. 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 Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia.[10]

Malley, the current ICG president, had his ties to the Obama electoral campaign severed in May 2008, when it became public that Malley had been in discussions with the militant Palestinian group Hamas, listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organisation.[11][12]

Crisis Group Board of Trustees is chaired by Mark Malloch Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; the Vice-Chair of the Board is Ayo Obe, lawyer, columnist and TV presenter from Nigeria. As of June 2018, the Board consisted of the following trustees:

Past board members have included Sandy Berger[13] and Stephen Solarz.[14][15]

Chairman Emeritus[edit]

Martti Ahtisaari[16]

Gareth Evans[16]


Crisis Group'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; Hillary Clinton; former Brazilian President Lula da Silva;[17] Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martti Ahtisaari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and financier and philanthropist George Soros.

Recipients for 2018 included Frank Giustra, founder of the Radcliffe Foundation and a prolific entrepreneur and financier, H.R.H. Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Olympic Refugee & Paralympic Teams.

Research about the ICG[edit]

In 2014, the journal Third World Quarterly published a special issue about the ICG and its role in knowledge production about conflict,[18] its briefings and reports were described as having "a generally good reputation" among policymakers in the issue's introduction, which also notes that while academics working on conflict often cite the ICG's analysis, there is little academic research about the ICG itself.[3]


In 2010, Tom Hazeldine argued in an article published in New Left Review that the ICG "styles itself as independent and non-partisan, but has consistently championed NATO's wars to fulsome transatlantic praise".[19]

The ICG generated controversy in April 2013 as it awarded Myanmar President Thein Sein its "In Pursuit of Peace Award",[20] with the award ceremony coinciding with the publication of a Human Rights Watch report of ethnic cleansing by Sein's administration.[21][22][23]

A July 2014 special edition of the peer-reviewed journal Third World Quarterly published 10 critiques of the organisation, ranging from its influence on foreign-policy makers, "manufacturing" crises, and the methodologies it deploys in gathering its research.[24]

The ICG was criticised in September 2016 for its 2011 report entitled "The Syrian Regime's Slow-motion Suicide", with Nicholas Noe arguing: "Regrettably, ICG's overconfidence in regime suicide not only encouraged the premature and disastrous rejection of diplomacy that has helped prolong the Syria war, it also essentially abdicated the main role for which peace, promotion, and conflict mitigation NGOs exist in the first place: Advocating for strong international engagement and negotiated solutions that regard the safety of civilian populations as paramount".[25]


  1. ^ "I was happy to offer the seed money to get them started investigating the possibilities for a new organisation"[6]
  2. ^ "I’ve been a proud supporter of Crisis Group ever since"[6]
  3. ^ "Martti Ahtisaari, had just been elected President of Finland a month earlier. When I explained to Martti what we had in mind, he immediately and graciously offered to provide $100,000 in funding from Finland"[8]
  4. ^ "Gareth Evans, then Foreign Minister of Australia, who indicated his government would be prepared to provide up to $500,000 in multi-year funding if we decided to move ahead."[8]


  1. ^ "Our Mission". International Crisis Group. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Preventing War. Shaping Peace". Crisis Group. 2016-07-07. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  3. ^ a b c Bliesemann de Guevara, Berit. "Studying the International Crisis Group". Third World Quarterly. 35 (4): 545–562. doi:10.1080/01436597.2014.924060.
  4. ^ "Our People". International Crisis Group. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b ICG 2010, p. 11.
  7. ^ ICG 2010, p. 6: "George Soros was in from the beginning"
  8. ^ a b ICG 2010, p. 12.
  9. ^ "Financials". Crisis Group. 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  10. ^ "Board of Trustees". Crisis Group. 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Baldwin, Tom (May 10, 2008). "Barack Obama sacks adviser over talks with Hamas". The Times. London. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
  13. ^
  14. ^ DOUGLAS MARTIN (29 November 2010). "Stephen J. Solarz, Former N.Y. Congressman, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 April 2019. He was a leader of the International Crisis Group, which works with governments and global organizations to quell deadly conflicts.
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". International Crisis Group. ICG. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019. Chairmen Emeriti - Martti Ahtisaari - Gareth Evans
  17. ^ William Corliss (22 April 2013). "Conflicted peace prize for Thein Sein". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019. gala dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York City to present its annual "In Pursuit of Peace Award". This year's recipients are Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former President of Brazil, and Thein Sein, the current President of Myanmar.
  18. ^ "Knowledge Production in Conflict: the International Crisis Group". Third World Quarterly. 35 (4). 2014.
  19. ^ Hazeldine, Tom (2010). "The North Atlantic Counsel". New Left Review. 63: 17–33.
  20. ^ Dan Murphy (22 April 2013). "Myanmar's Ruler to Get Peace Prize, Despite 'Ethnic Cleansing' Charge". Christian Science Monitor.
  21. ^ GUY HORTON. "Burma's Shame: Why the ICG's Peace Award for Thein Sein Is Unconscionable". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 5 April 2019. The ICG’s notorious history of nuanced understating of human rights violations to promote collaboration with successive regimes has finally culminated in this shameful bequest. A seal of approval has been given to what is a racist dictatorship.
  22. ^ Francis Wade (22 April 2013). "International Crisis Group makes a mockery of 'peace' in Burma". Asian Correspondent. Retrieved 5 April 2019. groups like ICG wanting to become part of a “pacted transition” in Burma, with a pro-trade and aid stance that ultimately reaps significant economic benefits for stakeholders, ICG included.
  23. ^ "Islamophobia: Myanmar's racist fault-line". Al Jazeera. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2019. Unconscionable then, that the International Crisis Group chose to honour Thein Sein with its peace award this year.
  24. ^ Knowledge Production in Conflict: the International Crisis Group Third World Quarterly, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 545-722. Taylor & Francis
  25. ^ Noe, Nicholas (15 September 2016). "When NGOs Call For Military Intervention in Syria: The Case of the International Crisis Group". HuffPost. Retrieved 22 August 2019.


External links[edit]