International Alert is a 27-year old independent peacebuilding organisation. We work with people who are directly affected by violent conflict to improve their prospects of peace. And we seek to influence the policies and ways of working of governments, international organisations like the UN and multinational companies, to reduce conflict risk and increase the prospects of peace.
We work in Africa, several parts of Asia, the South Caucasus, the Middle East and Latin America and have recently started work in the UK. Our policy work focuses on several key themes that influence prospects for peace and security – the economy, climate change, gender, the role of international institutions, the impact of development aid, and the effect of good and bad governance.
We are one of the world’s leading peacebuilding NGOs with more than 200 staff based in London and 15 field offices. The organisation is led by our Secretary General, Dan Smith OBE, and the Senior Management Team.
HOW WE WORK
Peace is when people are anticipating and managing conflicts without violence and are engaging in inclusive social change processes that improve the quality of their lives. They are doing so without compromising the possibility of continuing to do so in the future, or compromising the possibility of others to do so.
We can recognise peace by evidence that people are resolving conflicts and differences without violence and also by a web of five interlocking factors in society which we believe contribute to peace:
Alert’s work helps to strengthen these factors, and we do so in collaboration with local and international partners. We believe that peacebuilding requires a tailored approach rather than off-the-shelf techniques or a standard template.
We work in a number of ways, using one or more of the following methods, depending on what is most appropriate for the situation:
Dialogue – Bringing together and improving communication between people who would not normally come together.
Research – Providing evidence and analysis to assist the reframing of issues and persuade people to adopt new attitudes and approaches.
Advocacy – Changing the behaviour of institutions. Although this often focuses on formal changes to written policies, the “policy” of an institution is in fact best understood as the practical way it acts and engages with others, rather than the way it says that it acts and engages. We do advocacy with all kinds of institutions which have an impact on peace – including governments, NGOs, international organisations and businesses.
Training – Training and learning play a key role in building the capacity of individuals, organisations and institutions to build peace, and we provide training at all levels – from the very local, right up to the level of international institutions. Our training allows us to influence the approaches and develop the skills of local and international practitioners, to build understanding, to advocate for change and to reflect on current practice.
Accompaniment – The need to ensure ownership of processes of change over time requires Alert staff to spend much of their time building and maintaining relationships. This involves working with individuals and partner organisations, as well as our advocacy targets, and acting as a critical friend, advisor, monitor and informal capacity-builder. We aim to be available when needed, bringing in experience from other contexts, while respecting our partners’ need for space. We call this accompaniment.