Annual Report 2014
Letter From the President
This past year confounded many hopes. The Arab uprisings struggled onward, but Egyptians and Libyans experienced disappointments as deep as their expectations had once been high. New administrations in China and Japan made a tense region tenser as they managed nationalist upsurges. A decade of profound international effort in Afghanistan seemed to be drawing to a close more with a sense of dissatisfaction than of triumph.
In the international community, hopes went unmet as democratic governance halted its long post-Cold War trend of upward growth. The street sought to replace the ballot as the source of democratic legitimacy. Authoritarianism reasserted itself. So did nationalism in Europe and radicalisation elsewhere. The International Criminal Court faced strong, increasingly organised resistance in Africa as the court entered its second decade. The UN Security Council’s failure to act on Syria continued to take a heavy toll, carrying with it the high expectations once generated by the doctrine of the responsibility to protect.
Is the system fatally broken? No. But in 2013 it became obvious that doctrines and institutions alike require serious rethinking.
In this questioning year Crisis Group reaffirmed its core mission: to provide on-the-ground analysis and detailed policy prescriptions to prevent or resolve violent conflicts. As geopolitical generalisations weakened, we stuck to specifics.
On 2 January 2013 we published an alert about the advance of Seleka forces in Central African Republic. We reported on this forgotten conflict throughout the year, and when it reached the point where it was no longer forgotten our fieldwork informed the many actors who rushed to find solutions.
Our commitment to rigorous research and advocacy on reform in Myanmar, once so controversial, continued to bear fruit – and when reform faltered our principled engagement included well-researched, firm criticism.
In Colombia, years of Crisis Group work on the long conflict between the government and FARC guerrillas culminated in detailed recommendations to aid peace negotiations. There again, we strove to offer concrete ways to reach both justice and peace with- out sacrificing one to the other.
Patient, detailed work on the sanctions regime imposed on Iran proved, when the tide turned, invaluable in helping identify the path toward reducing tensions.
We were also able to expand our horizons, addressing new, emerging or potential crisis situations, whether in Niger or Burkina Faso – as part of our increasing focus on the Sahel – or in Mexico, where our study of vigilantism in Michoacán state foretold a tale now very much in the public eye.
That we have this flexibility is very much down to the generous support of our donors. These are challenging times and Crisis Group has not escaped the buffeting. But your commitment to our work, and belief in our mandate, has helped ensure that we have been able to continue covering, on every continent, not just conflicts in the headlines but also those wrongly ignored, often at great cost.
In this past year, our model of fieldwork on the world’s violent conflicts – undertaken under difficult conditions and usually with no obvious prospect of immediate success – proved itself again. As I reach the end of my own tenure as President and CEO of Crisis Group, it is my privilege to reaffirm that mission and salute the remarkable people around the world who have made it their own.
Brussels, 1 February 2014
Louise Arbour, President and CEO
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