Most Inspiring Peace Initiatives: International Alert

International Alert is an independent international peacebuilding organization, operating programmes around the world to address conflict. Its mission is to build a more peaceful world by: working with people directly affected by conflict to find peaceful solutions; shaping policies and practices to support peace; and collaborating with those striving for peace. Alert accomplishes these goals through dialogue, training, research and policy analysis, advocacy and outreach activities.

International Alert is headquartered in London, but also maintains a European office in The Hague. It maintains about 250 staff in nineteen countries. These experts work with over 800 partner organizations on projects to advance conflict resolution, support human rights, and build a more peaceful future. Alert’s main geographic areas of operation are Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but it is also supporting peace activities in Colombia, the Caucasus and Ukraine. Harriet Lamb became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2015. The chairman of Alert’s Board of Trustees is retired US ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, a former peace mediator. 

In 1985 the Standing International Forum on Ethnic Conflict, Development and Human Rights (SIFEC) was founded with the purpose of addressing the issue of conflict and to alert governments and the world to developing crises. The following year, SIFEC merged with another organization, International Alert on Genocide and Massacres, to become International Alert (IA). Alert was founded in 1986 by Leo Kuper, Michael Young, Martin Ennals and Luis Kutner in response to growing frustration in the international development and human rights community that internal conflicts were impeding the ability to protect and provide for civilian populations and that there was no effective international mechanism to address this situation. International Alert undertook to advance research on the causes of such conflict and to promote all means of conciliation and resolution, becoming an early advocate of multitrack diplomacy. From its first days, the conflict in Sri Lanka was a particular focus. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town was engaged in the formation of the new organization and became Vice Chairman of its Board of Trustees. Martin Ennals, the former Secretary General of Amnesty International and founder of Article 19, served as Secretary General of the new organization. From 1986-1989, Ennals was International Alert’s only full-time staff member. He was joined by Andy Carl (later the founder of Conciliation Resources, who managed IA from 1992-1993 following Ennals’ death. Alert expanded rapidly in 1994-1998 under the leadership of Kumar Rupesinghe, growing to over 50 staff with major programs in Sri Lanka, Burundi, and Sierra Leone. By 1998 Alert had a budget of approximately UK£5 million and 80 staff, managing programmes in over 15 countries in conflict. Dan Smith, now Secretary General of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute served as Secretary General from 2003-2015.

The webpage of International Alert Here: