International Alert has been working for almost 20 years to build peace in countries and territories affected or threatened by violent conflict. This work reflects our vision of a world in which, when people pursue their human rights and seek chances of betterment for themselves and their communities, the conflicts that arise are pursued with honesty, with forthrightness, and also with wisdom so that they do not erupt into violence.
As I joined Alert at the end of 2003, it was clear to me that the organisation had many assets, including experience in a relatively new and complex field and an unusual combination of capabilities, both for working on the ground in conflictaffected regions and as a think tank. The knowledge and skills gained over nearly two decades can make a real contribution to a field that is increasing in significance and scale. The challenge is to do this as effectively as possible.
In 2004 I therefore launched a strategic review of our work, our goals, our identity and the organisation itself. The process involved management, staff and trustees in a series of discussions and cumulative decisions. This review re-affirmed our commitment to understand the root causes of violent conflict and then act to make a difference.
The review was the basis on which we have drawn up a strategic approach for the next five years that will allow us to use our skills and experience to the best advantage. We are committed to:
- Working together with people who live in areas affected or threatened by armed conflict to make a positive difference for peace
- Improving both the substance and implementation of international policies that affect peacebuilding and the prospects for peace
- Strengthening the peacebuilding sector through increasing its expertise and profile
The main purpose of this report is to give a broad overview of our work towards these goals in 2004-5. It reflects the emphasis we place on working in partnership with people, groups and communities in conflict zones. This is the foundation of our work and the cornerstone of our approach to peacebuilding – it is the people who are most directly affected who have the most important role in building peace and preventing the eruption of armed conflict. We seek not to replace their effort but to enhance it.
To carry out this kind of work effectively requires a strong organisational core and I would like to acknowledge the efforts that we have made in 2004 to develop this. We employ over 90 staff, based both in our London office and in conflict zones. We have taken a number of steps to ensure we have robust systems for IT, finance, human resources, office management, fundraising and communications. This contributes directly to our work in the field. Our developing information technology infrastructure, for example, allows staff members to share information and collaborate on project plans and implementation from anywhere in the world.
I would like to thank all of our staff for all their work in 2004-5 and we look forward to working closely together with our partners in 2006 and beyond.