History of International Alert

International Alert was founded in 1986 to help people find peaceful solutions to conflict.

At that time, the number of conflicts between countries was decreasing, but there was an alarming increase in the number of conflicts within countries. These conflicts were undermining development and leading to gross violations of human rights. Identifying and highlighting individual abuses of human rights was not enough.

In the mid-1980s, politicians, ministries of foreign affairs and experts in human rights, international law and conflict, met to discuss an alternative approach. In 1985 the Standing International Forum on Ethnic Conflict, Development and Human Rights (SIFEC) was founded with the purpose of addressing the issue of internal conflicts and to alert governments and the world to developing crises. The following year, SIFEC merged with another organisation, International Alert on Genocide and Massacres, to become the charity we know today.

In 1986 we named our first Board of Trustees and Secretary General, Martin Ennals. Martin was the former Secretary General of Amnesty International and founder of Article 19, and a pioneer of the human rights movement. He served as our Secretary General – and for a time our only full-time member of staff – from 1986–1990. It is thanks in no small part to his energy, inspiration and vision that we have become the organisation that we are today.

Building on our early work in Sri Lanka, Uganda and the Philippines, we now help people find peaceful solutions to conflict in over 25 countries around the world and are one of the world’s leading peacebuilding organisations.

We are proud of our history and what we have achieved. Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years.