International Alert

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

International Alert [1] is an independent peacebuilding organisation working in over 20 countries and territories around the world. Alert's dual approach involves working directly with people affected by violent conflict as well as at government, EU and UN levels to shape both policy and practice in building sustainable peace." [2]

Alert was established in 1986 by a group of human rights advocates led by the former Secretary General of Amnesty International, Martin Ennals, in response to growing concerns expressed by those working in international development agencies, human rights organisations and those involved in the issues of ethnic conflict and genocide.

It is listed as a partner organization by the Center for International Conflict Resolution.

PeaceworkersUK "is part of the Peacebuilding Issues Programme of International Alert. Previously an independent NGO, PWUK part part of IA in 2006." [1]

Member of the Peace and Security Liaison Group [2]

International Alert's work

The vision of the organisation is to work "towards a world where differences are resolved without erupting into violence".

It seeks to achieve this by following its three key missions:

Working directly with people affected by violent conflict, supporting their efforts to improve their prospects for peace Shaping international policy and practice that affect peacebuilding Strengthening the expertise, impact and public profile of the peacebuilding sector Its main activities include working in partnership with local business, governmental, non-governmental, religious, and community groups to build their capacity to deliver a sustainable peace. They also produce detailed research papers and resource packs to help shape national and international policy, and for use in the training of local and international organisations.


International Alert was established in the mid-1980s, an era dominated by the Cold War, and whilst conflicts between nations were decreasing, internal conflicts and civil wars were rapidly increasing. Born out of the merger of The Standing International Forum on Ethnic Conflict, Development, and Human Rights (SIFEC), and US organisation International Alert on Genocides and Massacres, it counted Archbishop Desmond Tutu amongst the members of its first board of trustees.

It was the first organisation to concern itself specifically with violent internal conflict and at that time there existed no internationally agreed procedures for resolving internal conflict. International Alert aimed to encourage the creation of acceptable procedures and structures for resolving such situations.

Its work in areas of violent conflict focused on working with local partner organisations to facilitate peace deals and to ensure a transition to a functioning stable society.

The book "Recolonisation" by Susantha Goonatilake (Sage Publications) points out the unsavoury aspects of International Alert, including its partiality towards the RUF rebel group and also alleged involvement in diamond smuggling. The then president of Sierra Leone, Dr Ahmad Kabbah wrote a letter which was highly critical of International Alert to Kofi Annan. The book also points out that International Alert was ordered to pay a black employee compensation due to discrimination suffered at the hands of International Alert. The same book also states that former "secretary general" of International Alert, Kumar Rupesinghe took steps to try to prevent the book from being published.

Key landmarks in International Alert's history

1985: Establishment of SIFEC marks origins of Alert; the first country-specific programme in Sri Lanka is created to contribute to a peaceful settlement in Sri Lanka. 1991: Alert is awarded Consultative Status, Category II with the UN. 1992: Alert begins work in the former Soviet Union to monitor regions of possible and on-going conflict, and to offer a training programme on conflict resolution. 1995: Alert starts its work in the Great Lakes region of Africa with several programmes in both Burundi and Rwanda. 1998: Alert publishes the first Code of Conduct for conflict transformation work. 2000: Major lobbying effort by the Women Building Peace Campaign contributes to the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.


International Alert's current Secretary General is Dan Smith. The organisation is led by a Board of Trustees made up of eleven members from around the world, and a five person Senior Management Team. It is divided into teams working on Eurasia, Asia, the Americas, West Africa, the African Great Lakes, Peacebuilding Issues, and Development.

Secretaries General

The organisation has been led by four Secretaries General, as well as two acting Secretaries General, since its creation.


Accessed August 2007: [3]

Notable Past Board Members [4]


Core Donors

Trusts and Foundations


Government and Inter-Governmental Organisations


Former Funders [5]

Contact details

346 Clapham Road
London SW9 9AP
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7627 6800
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7627 6900


Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. About Us, Peaceworkers UK, accessed August 14, 2007.
  2. Our Partners, Peaceworkers UK, accessed August 14, 2007.
  3. Our Trustees, International Alert, accessed August 13, 2007.
  4. 20 Years of Peacebuilding, International Alert, accessed August 13, 2007.
  5. 20 Years of Peacebuilding, International Alert, accessed August 13, 2007.