History

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. Both types of conflict were undermining development and leading to gross violations of human rights. Identifying and highlighting individual abuses of human rights was not enough; a different approach was desperately needed. It was out of this urgency that International Alert was born.

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 organisation, International Alert on Genocide and Massacres, to become the charity we know today.

In 1986 we named our first Board of Trustees as well as 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 30 countries around the world and are one of the world’s leading peacebuilding organisations.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years.