International Alert

International Alert’s core funders are European Governments: the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ireland), the Danish International Development Agency, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the UK Department for International Development.

It is also funded by various Trusts and Foundations including the US National Endowment for Democracy (which performs slightly masked functions in relation to US foreign policy previously undertake by the CIA) and USAID and the UK’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy (a British version of the NED) and organisations such as Comic Relief. Other sources of funding come from Government and Inter-Governmental Organisations such as the Canadian International Development Agency, the European Commission, the Foreign Affairs Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Italy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway and the UK Global Conflict Prevention Pool.

Don’t Trustees
So who runs it? It may come as some surprise that it is people with connections to government agencies and covert government agencies and yet the organisations states repeatedly, such as in its ‘General introduction to International Alert brochure‘ that it is an “independent organisation.” No doubt there are people working on the ground with the best intentions, but the areas that it focuses on: West Africa, the Great Lakes region of Africa, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Andean region of South America, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Philippines, are also of interest to the strategies of some of their funders who have fomented conflict in the regions. Contrast its statements that it is:
“Bringing together business people to establish trade relations and promote peace in Sri Lanka.”

*Sir Richard Dales (Chair) A former member of HM Diplomatic Service now retired, Dales was the former High Commissioner to Zimbabwe (1992). His diplomatic career took him to many countries, including Cameroon, Denmark and Bulgaria. From 1974-77 he was the Assistant Private Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and from 1995-98 he was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Director for Africa and the Commonwealth. Head of South African and later Central and S. African Dept. FCO (1989-91) also Civil Service Selection Board.

Dales was the Head of Africa Command during the Sandline affair and came under criticism for giving “top management a false sense of reassurance,” and that he was “not giving sanctions enforcement a sufficiently high priority”. The report of the Sandline affair contains the phrase “not know anything of the matter” many times. And indeed the report found that Dales’ behaviour (who was subsequently given a post as Ambassador to Norway) was “at best political naiveté and at worst a “Yes, Minister-like” contempt for civil servants’ duties towards their ministers.”

*Dr Francis Mading Deng: Research Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where he is also the Director of their Center for Displacement Studies. He has served as Ambassador of Sudan to Canada, the Scandinavian countries and the United States of America, and as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Deng served in the Sudanese government, resigning from the foreign service when the war started in 1983 “to protest Sudan’s growing orientation toward Islamic fundamentalism“. Since 1992 he has also served as the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons and is co-founder of the Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement. Deng is also a member of MIT’s Center for International Studies (CIS).

Deng is the author, along with J. Stephen Morrison who has been influential in formulating US policy, of a (2001) Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) ‘Report of the CSIS Task Force on U.S.-Sudan Policy,’ funded through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Peace. By page two “Sudan’s rising oil production” is mentioned. The US is not impartial in Sudan and isolated from the rest of the international community — it funds the contra army in the south — and Deng’s report conceeds that the US is:

“the principal backer, in humanitarian and diplomatic terms, of the southern Sudanese opposition, recognizes the south’s moral cause, and will not countenance the military subjugation of the south.”

U.S. aggression is glossed over throughout the report:

“U.S. policy did not match means to ends and fed the erroneous belief in Khartoum that the United States was committed covertly to the overthrow of the Sudanese government. These shortfalls in U.S. policy inadvertently benefited Khartoum, particularly after the United States bombed the El Shifa pharmaceutical factory in August 1998. If the Bush administration is to be effective in advancing U.S. interests in Sudan, it will need a significantly modified approach.”

Sixteen Tomahawk cruise missiles demolished the plant which produced 50% of Sudan’s medicine and the attack was substantiated on charges that it posed the “imminent threat” of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and that El Shifa was owned by Osama Bin Laden, all which evapourated after the deed was done. Members of a delegation to El Shifa led by Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark noted that:

“Ever since Sudan opposed the 1991 U.S.-led war against Iraq, U.S. policy has aimed at destabilizing the Sudan government. Washington has helped finance a secessionist civil war against the Khartoum government and imposed economic sanctions on Sudan. The missile attack came soon after Sudan took steps to access a 300-million-barrel reservoir of crude oil in the country’s South. There is a clear relationship between U.S. oil policy and U.S. government hostility toward Sudan.”

Strange things happen to intelligence on the Sudan. As recently as January 1998, the CIA (not exactly a million miles away from the Center for Strategic and International Studies) had formally withdrawn more than 100 of its intelligence reports on Sudan, after concluding that its source was a fabricator. Deng’s report has no mention that the U.S. has maintained a campaign to destabilize Sudan. On November 10, 1996, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. “would send $20 million in military equipment to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda, even though these three countries were embroiled in the bloody war in southern Sudan. The paper said its congressional sources doubted the aid would be kept from rebel forces fighting the Sudanese government. Shortly thereafter, Africa Confidential reported, “It is clear the aid is for Sudan’s armed opposition” and added that U.S. special forces were on “open-ended deployment” with the rebels.”

Deng’s report has very little to offer although it does argue that there should be intensive planning on the critical requirements for a ‘self-governing’ south: “Sudanese experts should undertake this effort, with technical and financial support provided by the World Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the EU, USAID, and other bilateral donor agencies.” And this seems more in the service of International Alert than the people of Sudan. The Report cites Elliott Abrams and Paul Bremer (at the time with Kissinger Associates), Inc. as its ‘presenters’ so it is difficult to view it as honest testimony, given that the pair as masters of darker arts:

“During the Reagan administration, Abrams was the government’s nexus between the militarists in the National Security Council and the public-diplomacy operatives in the State Department, White House, and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Abrams worked closely with Otto Reich, who directed the White House’s Office of Public Diplomacy, which was in charge of disseminating “white propaganda” to the U.S. public, media, and policymakers to build support for the Reagan administration’s interventionist policies in Latin America and elsewhere.”

Deng was one of the key speakers at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom at that time run by Elliott Abrams.

*Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela: Served on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Senior consultant for the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, and associate professor of psychology at the University of Cape Town, Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Divinity School at Harvard University.

*Henny van der Graaf: Dutch Brig. General (retired). He was team leader of the South Eastern Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, based in Belgrade, advising and supporting SEE countries in curbing small arms and light weapons. In the 1990s he worked for the UN/UNDP on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programmes in West Africa, Albania, Philippines and Bangladesh. In December 2001, he completed two years in Cambodia as Special Advisor of the European Union of its Assistance Programme in curbing Small Arms and Light Weapons in Cambodia. A member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters from 1992-1998, he also acted as EU/UN Elections Monitor in Cambodia, South Africa and Mali.

*Dr Kamal Hossain: Barrister, whose work involves international law, constitutional law, and human rights. He served the Government of Bangladesh as Minister of Law (1972-1973), Foreign Affairs (1973-1975), and Petroleum and Minerals (1974-1975). More recently, he has been the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan (1998-2003) and is currently a Member of the UN Compensation Commission. At present he is Chairman, Advisory Council, Transparency International; Vice-Chairman, International Law Association; Chairman, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust. Member, United Nations Compensation Commission, Geneva and the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

*Paulina Lampsa: Advisor to George Papandreou —former Foreign Minister of Greece and leader of the opposition (PASOK) party—on conflict management issues since 1990. She is a member of the Central Committee of PASOK and of the party’s International Relations Department. She was an honorary candidate in the June 2004 elections for the European Parliament. Since 1997 she has been an active member of the Greek-Turkish Forum, an unofficial group that works on developing rapprochement between Greece and Turkey.

*Craig McGilvrary: Financial director of Stiell Limited 1998-2002 and Alfred McAlpine, the construction, facilities management and infrastructure providers, where he has been Managing Director, Corporate Division since 2003 and is responsible for leadership, strategy and growth of McAlpine’s Facilities Management Business which has extended into prison privatisation through the dripping roast of the Private Finance Initiative.

*Frida Nokken: Secretary General of the Nordic Council since 1999.

*Brendan O’Leary: Director of the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict and Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He was educated at Oxford and the London School of Economics (LSE), and previously chaired the Department of Government at LSE. He has recognised expertise in national self-determination, power-sharing and electoral systems, and served as a constitutional advisor to the Kurdistan Government in Iraq. O’Leary has previously acted as a constitutional advisor in Northern Ireland, Somalia, and South Africa and has advised the UN, the EU, the UK and US governments on conflicts in Europe and Asia. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of fifteen books, including The Northern Ireland Conflict, The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq and the up-coming Terror, Insurgency and the State.

*Wigberto Tañada: As a senator, Tañada chaired the Philippine Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He is currently chair of the Philippine Working Group on the ASEAN Mechanism for Human Rights, and a convenor of the Asian Peace Alliance, a network of peace advocates, scholars, civil-society organisations and social-political movements from 15 Asia-Pacific countries. He also is chair of the Agrarian Justice Foundation, Inc. and is a lead convenor of the ‘Gathering for Peace’, the broadest Philippine coalition ever organised after 9/11 by peace and human rights advocates and president, since 1999, of the country’s longest-serving NGO; the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement.

*Martin Woollacott: Foreign affairs journalist at The Guardian for almost 40 years. He has reported from the Far East, covering the last years of the Vietnam War, the Bangladesh war and the Indian Emergency; the Middle East, covering the Iranian revolution and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; as well as reporting as a travelling senior correspondent from Iraq, Bosnia and Sierra Leone during the interventions in those countries. Although retired from the newspaper since 2004, Woollacott continues to write regular columns on international affairs. He is a member of the board of Institute for War & Peace Reporting since 1993.

Past members include Pauline Neville-Jones (2000–2004) and Michael Ignatieff (2000–2001)

The organisation engages in wide ranging projects including “promoting conflict-sensitive business practice in the Extractive industries.”

International Alert also works in partnership with, and was a founding member of the European Peace building Liaison Office (EPLO), a network of NGOs active in conflict prevention that seeks to promote peacebuilding policies among decision-makers in Europe. Alert also sits on the Steering Committee of BOND’s European Policy Group, a network of 290 UK Development NGOs working in international development.

IA has also worked with the Armenian neoliberal think tank, the International Center for Human Development. According to its own account it was established in March 2000 as a ‘think tank’ in the South Caucasus region ‘to strengthen democratic mechanisms’ and ‘fostering free market values’.

It works with the British Council’s propaganda/psy-ops operation ‘Connecting Futures’ and Strategic Research Center (Georgia).


One Response to “International Alert”

  1. Lokraj Thapa Says:

    Dear Mr Clark,

    This is an interesting piece but you omit some of the juiciest titbits about this organisation. In the mid 1990s their West Africa programme came a cropper when corrupt staff and/or partners became involved in trafficking diamonds in Sierra Leone (sometehing they were supposed to be working against). Then somewhat related to this I have heard that SIS put them under observation for a time – and let them know about it, following allegations made about UK Government actions in West Africa.

    More recently there was a case of misuse of funds in Nepal (to the tune of about 18,000 GBP so the word goes), which was spent on entertainment by an enterprising staff member, much to the chagrin of the Dutch Government.

    There’s more, e.g. womanising and scheming of former ‘General Secrettary’ Kevin Clements. Info on most of the above can be found in copies of an internal samizdat newsletter produced by junior staff up until some years ago (such was the tyrannical nature of management).

    I will declare an interest at this point – for some years I have worked with other non-governmental organisations and come up against International Alert. They have always seemed to me a tainted organisation and staff conduct has often left a bad taste, but I would not deny that a rivalry has existed between us. Anyway, if you’re interested I can perhaps supply contact details for former staff.


    L Thapa

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