When the International Crisis Group was ranked as one of the top global think tanks in 2008, its head at the time Gareth Evans, though appreciative, was at pains to change this image. Citing the organization’s strong field presence and focus on direct advocacy with decision makers, he remarked, “we would prefer to call ourselves a global conflict prevention and resolution organization and we are more action than academically oriented.” Founded in 1995, the International Crisis Group has quickly developed a global reach. With 130 permanent staff from 49 countries speaking 47 languages, the organization is dedicated to preventing and resolving conflicts through a combination of field-based analysis, judicious policy prescription and high-level advocacy.
While its authoritative reporting on conflict dynamics has, in itself, established the organization as the world’s leading independent source of analysis and advice to governments and international actors, its ability to leverage the collective influence of its board of trustees, comprised of former statesmen and women, that sets it apart. The organization has contributed behind-the-scenes support and advice to critical peace negotiations – for instance in Sudan and Burundi – has provided detailed information unobtainable elsewhere (as on the Islamic Courts in Somalia), and has continued to ring early warning bells through its CrisisWatch bulletin and conflict alerts.