By definition, nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations emerge when governments and other groups fail to perform properly and meet the needs of the public. In the 1990’s, the world was experiencing some of the worst tragedies in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia with no response from the international community. In Somalia, where civil war is still being fought, upwards of 500,000 lives have been lost. In only 100 days, an estimated 500,000-100,000 people were killed in the genocide against the Tutsis of Rwanda. The Bosnian War claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and soldiers. During this decade, when war and genocide were reoccurring themes, the international community failed to anticipate these wars and subsequently take action. The Crisis Group was formed to address this situation by former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and Thailand Morton Abramowitz, former head of U.N. Development Programme Mark Malloch-Brown, and Senator George Mitchell. Their goal: to act as the world’s eyes and ears, looking out for impending conflicts with the help of a high profile Board of Directors that could mobilize action from the world’s policymakers. Operating under the tagline “working to prevent conflict worldwide”, the International Crisis Group works in both the political and social realms to create advocacy.
Mission: “Crisis Group decides which situations to cover based on a number of factors. These include: the seriousness of a situation, whether we can add value to international understanding and response, whether we have or can raise the necessary resources to ensure high-quality reporting and effective follow-through, and whether we can safely operate in the field.”
The Crisis Group writes reports and briefing papers that go to tens of thousands of targeted recipients. They have a huge scope, and they use mainstream media and a large social media presense to deliver commentary government ministers, heads of international agencies, diplomats, officials in key roles, journalists, and over 200,000 people worldwide. By also publishing this commentary in multiple languages, the Crisis Groups bridges gaps and makes their key information accessible to everyone.
The Crisis Group’s website also highlights three important elements of their approach to building advocacy on such a large scale. The first is through expert field research and analysis. Many of their journalists are stationed in the middle of many of the world’s hotspots for conflict. Their main task is to figure out what is happening and why. What people are involved? Why do they matter? Who influences them? What is the state of the area? What are the underlying political, social, and economic factors contributing to conflict? I find this element of their organization to be so crucial, especially as I view lack of knowledge and understanding a huge barrier for me against activism. The second element is practical, imaginative policy prescriptions. What good is understanding a conflict if nothing is done to address or prevent it? The Crisis Group has the reach to influence key policy makers and start to enact change at a governmental level, a level that is often out of reach for the everyday advocate. The last element is effective, high level advocacy. This final element is crucial, as it is the action piece of advocacy. The problem and appropriate responses have been identified, but know it is important to include the political will to actually make the changes. This involves persuading policymakers, media, and other influential figures. Their arguments must be crafted carefully. They must speak to a specific area: political, legal, moral, or financial. Because of their high level of credibility and capacity, the Crisis Group can make these lofty expectations a reality. The Crisis Group receives money from governments, individuals and larger corporations, and institutional foundations to do its work.
The International Crisis Groups writes reports on all areas of the world that are experiencing significant conflict. These reports are very useful in helping understanding current developments along with historical factors that have created the issues in the first place. This link is to the most recent report about South Sudan and the prospects for a “National Dialogue” that President Omar al Bashir had promised early 2014. http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/sudan/b108-sudan-the-prospects-for-national-dialogue.aspx The only issue in utilizing these reports is that they are often not geared to the Average Joe with minimal understanding of the current political landscape of war torn areas. But because the reports are so extensive, they offer a more transparent view at the issues at hand. If someone really invests, reports by the Crisis Groups bring a much better understanding and a clearer prescription for necessary steps to take for advocacy.
Here is a link to their blog, In Pursuit of Peace, for up to date commentary:http://blog.crisisgroup.org/
[All information has been gathered from the International Crisis Group’s website: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en.aspx ]