Selected highlights from Crisis Action campaigns for the year 2020-21
September 2020The UN Special Envoy to Yemen credits a joint advocacy, media and social media campaign by Yemeni and international NGOs, coordinated by Crisis Action, for helping secure the release of 1081 detainees - the largest prisoner exchange in over seven years of the conflict in Yemen.
October 2020A letter to the US Secretary of State from over 70 Representatives and Senators backed up with primetime US media coverage, both catalysed by Crisis Action, is credited as helping secure pledges of US$200 million humanitarian aid for Yemen.
What [Crisis Action] has done in mobilizing debate on Yemen and impacting the position of the countries and actors which perpetuate it, is nothing short of miraculous. In 25 years, I have never worked with more effective advocates, never. Millions of people in Yemen owe their lives to them.”
February 2021One year after launching a military surge, Sahelian heads of state and President Macron of France announce a pivot to a “civilian and political surge” in line with recommendations by the ‘People’s Coalition of the Sahel’ - a diverse coalition of more than 50 civil society organisations built by Crisis Action. French, British, EU and UN officials affirm that Coalition advocacy, coordinated by Crisis Action, was critical in “creating the atmosphere for these political changes to occur”.
March 2021Crisis Action partners from Syria and Russia file a landmark legal action against a Russian private contractor for its role in the torture of a detainee in Syria. The case, described as having potentially significant implications for accountability around the future treatment of detainees in Syria and beyond, is one of the groundbreaking collaborations stemming from a Crisis Action conference bringing together 40 Syrian and Russian civil society together in 2019.
May 2021G7 foreign and development ministers issue a series of new pledges for addressing the crises in Myanmar, Tigray, the Sahel, Afghanistan and Yemen. Following advocacy coordinated by Crisis Action and targeting the governments of the UK, US, France and Canada, several commitments echo Crisis Action partner recommendations almost verbatim.
June 2021The South Africa Development Community (SADC) approves a regional standby force to improve humanitarian operations and help protect over 2.3 million people in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique - an outcome attributed by a seasoned humanitarian advocate in the region of the region as the direct result of advocacy coordinated by Crisis Action.
July 2021A Crisis Action-coordinated open letter, media and social media campaign involving over 200 organisations (representing all ethnic groups in Myanmar and NGOs from five continents) adds to the diplomatic effort to ensure the UN General Assembly passes a resolution backing an embargo on arms sales to Myanmar’s military junta.
July 2021Crisis Action supports partners to meet with key UN missions in a successful effort to ensure the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 2585, sustaining the cross-border provision of aid to 3.4 million people living in Northwest Syria.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made this year one of unprecedented challenges for many across our sector. However, thanks to the hard work and creativity of our close-knit team, and our extensive experience of virtual working and engagement, I am proud of the many, innovative ways in which we have brought partners, allies and donors together to protect civilians in conflict zones around the world.
Landmark reports from Crisis Action partners are bringing new perspectives to the conflict in Syria and changing policy-maker minds on The Sahel. We helped secure breakthroughs on aid funding, humanitarian access, arms sales and arbitrary detention across our campaigns in Mozambique, Syria and Yemen. We have made significant progress engaging China in the South Sudan peace process, and convened coalitions of unprecedented size and diversity for the people of Myanmar and occupied Palestinian territories.
We have seen changes internally too, with the departure of our Executive Director Andrew Hudson. When Andrew joined Crisis Action over a decade ago, we were an organisation of 12 people with a budget of US$1 million. Today, we are a team of nearly 50 and a budget of over US$5 million. Andrew championed diversity, pioneered new initiatives on China and Russia, and led some of our most successful campaigns across South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The board and staff are immensely grateful to him.
A tough act to follow. It is therefore with huge gratification that we welcomed Nicola Reindorp as our new CEO. The unanimous choice of our board, Nicola has been with Crisis Action - as a board member, Campaign Director and Deputy Executive Director - since our early years, consistently impressing and inspiring colleagues and partners with her vision, drive, incisive intellect and infectious enthusiasm.
The challenges presented by the pandemic are not over, and the unfolding tragedy in and around Afghanistan has only heightened perceptions that the global challenges faced in protecting civilians from conflict are greater than at any time in Crisis Action’s history. However, with a strong financial position, the enduring power of our award-winning model, and a dedicated team under dynamic new leadership, I’m excited about the impact we will continue to have in the years ahead.
Shifting Strategy in the Sahel
For eight years, French-led international forces used military force to try and drive so-called jihadist armed groups from the West African region of the Sahel. Yet, by the time 2020 became the bloodiest year since operations began, the region had instead descended into one of the world’s fastest growing displacement crises.
We need to adopt your new focus on a people-centred approach”
Something needed to change. The People’s Coalition for the Sahel – a Crisis Action-built civil society alliance of unprecedented breadth and diversity – helped initiate that change by calling for a radical strategic shift. Learning from the failure of a primarily militaristic approach, our partners proposed, in the landmark report ‘The Sahel: What needs to change’, concrete steps towards a more holistic people-centered response that addressed the root causes of the violence.
We organised a virtual launch event in April 2021, attended by over 300 people including policymakers from the Sahel, EU, African Union, UN, US, Canada and Japan. Our messages on the need to prioritise the protection of civilians, improve governance across the region, combat impunity for abuses, and secure adequate humanitarian funding and access, reached millions through our global media outreach (including global titles like Le Monde and France 24). We pushed for implementation of the report’s recommendations through a series of tailored briefings for over 40 policymakers, and organised workshops with partners from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to co-create strategies for continuing government engagement across the region.
There has been considerable affirmation of our recommendations by key policymakers. AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, told us that the AU “needs to adopt your new focus on a people-centred approach”. France’s Sahel Envoy described our report as “an approach that France agrees and adheres to”. And UN Security Council members such as the UK and Norway are declaring that their Sahel strategies now “align...with the People’s Coalition”.
There’s a growing acknowledgement that the current approach is failing to protect civilians. In 2021, France announced it would halve its military presence in the region. Sahelian policymakers are also now accepting, in the words of the Burkinabe Minister of Reconciliation, that “a military-centred response is not the solution”. After years focusing primarily on counter-terror, Sahelian governments and their international partners have committed to a “civilian and political surge” to address governance issues and accountability, in line with the People’s Coalition recommendations. French, British, EU and UN officials have affirmed how instrumental civil society’s efforts have been in driving this shift. In the words of the UK’s Sahel envoy: the People’s Coalition “created the atmosphere for these political changes to occur”.
Yet this new consensus for a revised approach has yet to translate into more safety for civilians in the Sahel. Furthermore, it is at risk of unravelling amidst concerning setbacks: military coups in Mali and Chad; increasing attacks by jihadist groups; proliferation of self-defence groups and possible use of private military companies. More than ever, civil society pressure is needed to put into practice the “civilian surge” governments committed to. The People’s Coalition for the Sahel and its more than 50 members will continue to hold governments to account in the urgent search for protection and peace for the people of the Sahel.
Sustaining hopes of peace in Yemen
How does Crisis Action decide on its campaigns? Simple. We focus wherever our analysis and partner consultations tell us we will have the greatest impact. In Yemen, where a brutal seven -year conflict has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, this has meant focusing on ensuring the provision of humanitarian aid, stronger accountability for war crimes, and ending both arbitrary detention and the sale of arms to the Saudi-led coalition (which has been found to have used them against Yemeni civilians).
We secured significant breakthroughs in all these areas over the past year. However, the succession of campaign victories achieved across September and October 2020 stand out as possibly the most intensely impactful six weeks of my Crisis Action career so far.
To start, we worked with Yemeni and international NGOs on a joint advocacy, media and social media campaign (described by UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths as “so great and so timely”) that helped secure the release of 1,081 arbitrary detainees - the conflict’s largest ever prisoner exchange.
Working with 20 Yemeni and international partners, we then persuaded governments at the UN Human Rights Council to strengthen the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) mandate to collect evidence with which to pursue accountability for war crimes.
1081: the number of detainees released as part of the largest prisoner exchange in over seven years of the conflict in Yemen
Finally, in response to widespread warnings about funding cuts to the UN’s humanitarian appeal, we supported primetime coverage of the issue on CNN, and coordinated a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from over 70 Representatives and Senators, urging him to help avert a financing shortfall. These efforts were credited as helping secure over USD 200 million of aid funding, and were described by UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, as ‘nothing short of miraculous’. Such praise is always rewarding, but especially from someone of Ms Grande’s standing.
Outside those ‘miraculous’ six weeks, the significant progress made in our long-standing campaign to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia also stands out for me.
Following an extensive campaign coordinated by our Washington office - including an op-ed in the Washington Post, a joint letter from major INGO heads to the US Government, and partner testimonies in Congressional hearings - the US suspended arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition for one year in July 2020. In January 2021, the new Biden Administration made that suspension indefinite.
Across the Atlantic, we coordinated a joint statement from 12 French and international NGOs urging President Macron to establish parliamentary oversight on arms sales, including to the Saudi-led coalition. We ensured widespread social and media attention for the letter by helping organise a “die-in”, in which 100 campaigners lay prostrate in one of Paris’ busiest squares in a striking evocation of the impact French-made arms have in Yemen. I loved this display of creativity from our Paris team in the face of strict Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings! Based on our partners’ recommendations, a French National Assembly Fact Finding Mission recommended greater parliamentary oversight of arm sales. Before long, the Macron administration had to allow regular parliamentary review of French arms sales, in line with part of our requests.
Yet, while it is of course rewarding to reflect here on such progress throughout the year, we remain humble. Today, 24 million Yemenis wake up in need of humanitarian assistance. Peace remains elusive. Our efforts to protect civilians from this brutal conflict continue.
What you have done in mobilizing debate on Yemen, and impacting the position of the countries and actors which perpetuate it, is nothing short of miraculous. In 25 years, I have never worked with more effective advocates, never. Millions of people in Yemen owe their lives to them.”
US$200 million: the amount pledged to the UN humanitarian appeal on Yemen that UN officials attributed to timely media stories and pressure on donors catalysed by Crisis Action
Light in the Darkness for Syria
March 2021 brought us the anniversary we hoped we’d never see: ten years since the brutal suppression of peaceful uprising that descended into conflict in Syria. A devastating milestone, yes. But one we were determined to use to refocus global attention on the urgent measures needed to protect Syrians still under threat.
Thanks to this resolution, millions of Syrians can breathe a sigh of relief tonight knowing that vital humanitarian aid will continue to flow into Idlib...and parents can sleep tonight knowing that for the next 12 months their children will be fed”
I’m incredibly excited about how our pioneering Russia programme has taken this work into bold new territory [see next section]. But I’m also proud of our work this year on more familiar grounds. In 2015, Crisis Action played a key role in the creation of the UN cross-border mechanism that supports the flow of vital humanitarian assistance into the opposition-held Northwest of the country. This year, we helped partners engage key UN missions to ensure Resolution 2585, renewing the mechanism, was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council (UNSC). Quite how vital this is for the 3.4 million people living in the region cannot be overstated.
Securing action on detention – for the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands who have been arbitrarily detained since the start of the conflict, and the families and loved ones who are still denied information about their disappearance - was another major focus throughout the year.
We supported our partners, Families for Freedom, to brief the UNSC in July 2020, as part of one of the Council’s first ever formal events on detainees. And we supported the release of a report from the Truth and Justice Charter group of Syrian detainees and families on the need for an international mechanism for missing persons. With this recommendation having been picked up by the UN Commission of Inquiry, we are now assisting Syrian partners to engage UN member states to create the mechanism.
We also used the anniversary itself to help keep the issue of detainees on the global agenda. We successfully encouraged the US to host a UNSC briefing on the day of the anniversary, helping elicit commitments to tackle detention from an array of other governments. We brought together 11 embassy representatives and senior UN officials for a briefing on detainees hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Beirut. Working with co-hosts of the Permanent Missions of Liechtenstein, among others, we moderated a UN side event, “Ten Years of Conflict in Syria”, supporting Syrian partners to make compelling cases for action on detention to an audience of UN ambassadors and officials. And we used the anniversary as a hook to enable Syrian partners to again tell their stories of detention and more in media around the world – from global outlets such as CNN, The Guardian and Sky News, to influential national media such as Lenta in Russia.
When Crisis Action started work on the issue of detainees in 2019, it was rarely raised in the UN Security Council. Now, the new US administration has signaled their intent to pursue Council action on the issue. I have heard so many heartbreaking stories from Syrian partners, of friends and loved ones disappearing without trace. I’m proud that we have helped put, and keep, their story on the international agenda, and hope it will one day bring them the justice and closure they deserve.
3.4 million: The number of civilians in North-West Syria who can now be reached through cross-border humanitarian assistance, following the UN adoption of Resolution 2585.
Changing the narrative in Russia
For over six years, Russia’s government has played a major role in the conflict in Syria, where it has been implicated, by the UN and international human rights groups, in human rights abuses and possible war crimes. However, there has been virtually no reporting of this within Russia, with much of the media controlled by the Kremlin, and both independent media and civil society heavily constrained in their knowledge of, and access to, Syria.
Since 2019, Crisis Action has worked with Syrian and Russian civil society to bridge this divide, connecting organisations and individuals, and enabling independent Russian media and civil society to report their own observations of what is really happening in Syria.
This work led to a range of breakthroughs this year, including the first ever report by Russian civil society on the Syrian conflict. Over two years in production and based on over 150 original first-hand accounts, the 192-page document detailed human rights abuses by all parties, including Russia, and was covered widely across Russian and international media.
Another landmark outcome came in March 2021, as Syrian and Russian NGOs filed a legal case against the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor, over its involvement in the torture of a Syrian detainee. The case arose from the first ever Russia-Syria civil society dialogue event, which Crisis Action convened for 40 Syrian and Russian activists in 2019. It could have significant implications for accountability around the future treatment of detainees in Syria and beyond.
Underpinning all this work is our analysis that public opinion within Russia is more likely to influence the Russian government to uphold its obligations to protect civilians in conflict than years of international diplomacy has proven able to. That the state is imposing ever-tighter restrictions on how the media and civil society keep the Russian public informed suggests the Kremlin shares this view. It also emphasises to me how important it is that we continue this groundbreaking work.
Engaging China on South Sudan
Engaging China to be a force for peace is not just new ground for Crisis Action, but for civil society at large. Pioneering work.
The logical focal point for the launch of this engagement was South Sudan, where Crisis Action has a long track record of impactful collaborative campaigning, and where China has invested heavily – both economically, and in its image as a benign, responsible partner to the government of South Sudan.
An early highlight saw the Crisis Action team working with the South Sudan Civil Society Forum, art collective AnaTaban, and children from the Juba Orphanage, to design and produce a mural and animation depicting the hope local children have for Chinese support for peace in their country. Unveiling the mural on 16 June (International Day of the African Child), the team ensured it was seen in national and international media, and by 4 million people on Twitter, where it trended nationally. Chinese government envoys across Africa were among those to receive digital postcards of the mural from campaigners.
Crisis Action then closed the year working with the influential South Africa-based China Africa Project on a webinar and podcast exploring China's role in the peace process. The webinar provided an unprecedented platform for South Sudanese civil society to share, directly with senior Chinese officials, their asks and expectations of China as a partner to their country. This included challenging the long-held precept that China does not interfere in domestic affairs with the reality as South Sudanese see it, and setting out civil society hopes for China’s future engagement in their country.
Before the event, a colleague from the China-Africa Project predicted it would take ten years working in this area to secure participation from the kind of high-ranking Chinese officials attained for this first webinar. Exceeding partner expectations so spectacularly is not the aim of Crisis Action campaigns – but it is gratifying! It also bodes well as the team looks to turn this early progress into action that helps secure peace in South Sudan.
Prioritising protection at the G7
‘Crack the Crises’ was a pioneering civil society collaboration demanding that governments attending the 2021 G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, UK, act to tackle the interlinked problems of vaccine access, climate change, inequality and conflict. Working with the UK teams of core partners such as Save the Children, NRC and Crisis, we developed recommendations for action on conflict, and coordinated meetings with government officials in the UK, USA, France and Canada, to help draw the attention of some of the world's most powerful countries to their responsibilities to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The end-of-summit Foreign and Development Ministers Communiqué included many of our partners’ recommendations - several almost verbatim. This included a new G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Crises Compact (featuring $800 million in additional funding for the Yemen Humanitarian Response plan), plus further commitments to tackle the human rights and humanitarian situations in China, Myanmar, Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Sahel. Pledges on the Sahel were perhaps the most rewarding, as the conflict was not even on the G7 agenda prior to our campaign.
Within weeks of the summit closing, my UK team colleagues had helped convene and chair a new cross-party parliamentary group on ‘Conflict and Global Britain’, to ensure the summit’s encouraging rhetoric is followed with action. The work holding the G7 governments to their commitments begins.
Our Emergency Responses
Shorter, more targeted campaigns that Crisis Action undertakes alongside our longer-term core campaigns.
As reports of state-sponsored violence, intimidation and voter suppression increased ahead of Tanzania’s October 2020 presidential election, a group of civil society organisations led by Tanzania’s Centre for Strategic Litigation (CSL) reached out to Crisis Action to help head off the prospect, widely anticipated, of heavy post-election violence. “If we don’t do something”, one partner said, “I’m sure we will see several thousand dead before the month ends”.
Responding immediately to this time-pressured crisis, the Crisis Action emergency response team worked with partners and allies, including the CSL, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kituo Cha Katiba, and Tanzania Elections Watch, to highlight unacceptable electoral practices in national and international media, spreading the message further with a social media campaign seen by over 10 million people as it trended across the region. The team also arranged for partners and other regional experts to brief senior UN and AU officials, leading to calls for free and fair elections from both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterresand AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki.
Though we cannot describe the subsequent election as fully free and fair, levels of intimidation were reduced as opposition election agents and candidates were released and sworn in. The attention of the UN, AU and international media had let Tanzanians – including President Magafuli – know that the world was watching. Post-election violence was minimal.
In late September 2020, the fragile peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh once again fractured. There were early civilian casualties, and the risk of more rose rapidly as the deployment of ground forces, heavy artillery and combat drones increased.
To de-escalate that threat, Crisis Action spurred action to engage Russian, German and French officials to persuade them to play an active role in brokering peace. We worked with writers, activists, religious leaders (including His Holiness Karekin II, Head of the Armenian church) and civil society voices from both sides to show unity between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in their calls for peace, which we shared with key policymakers and French, German and international media. After a month-long campaign, a Russian brokered-peace deal resulted in a ceasefire that has thankfully endured to this day.
I confess that prior to working on this campaign, I hadn’t realised quite how fervently polarised and raw feelings around this conflict were. Bringing both sides together like this is therefore something I’m incredibly proud of. For a conflict rarely prioritised by governments or civil society, the response from civil society organisations involved has led me to believe it is something only Crisis Action could have done. Although the conflict’s deep roots mean a lasting peace is not yet secure, our emergency response has laid some of the groundwork needed for partners, policy makers and activists to continue protecting local civilians into the future.
2.3 million: The population of Cabo Delgado in line to receive greater protection and humanitarian support following announcements at the SADC Summit, 23 June 2021.
The resource-rich Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique has seen a rise in violence since 2017, escalating in 2020 after insurgents overtook four districts. Violence intensified over the following year, killing hundreds and displacing over half a million. Despite this, human rights and peacebuilding organisations across the region reported reluctance from Mozambique authorities to address the root causes of the conflict, and a lack of support from the international community, including the predominant regional inter-governmental body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
It was against this backdrop that we launched an emergency response campaign in February 2021. This included coordinating a letter to SADC from 31 local and international NGOs, urging more decisive action in tackling the insurgency and maintaining peace and humanitarian access for the 2.3 million residents of Cabo Delgado. Crisis Action also organised a panel discussion of influential academics and think-tanks on how the SADC should address the conflict, and coordinated a ‘Twitter storm’, timed to coincide with SADC’s May summit, that reached over a million people across the region.
At its summit in June, SADC announced the deployment of a Standby Force, the formation of a Humanitarian and Emergency Response Operations Centre, and encouraged member states to work with humanitarian agencies in providing humanitarian support in affected areas. One seasoned humanitarian advocate in the region attributed this major step forward to be a direct result of the advocacy coordinated by Crisis Action. Though the people of Cabo Delgado still lack peace and protection, I was so pleased to have played a small part in supporting them to advance their cause.
Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories
Every few years, another horrifying escalation of violence erupts in the conflict that has afflicted the people of Israel and Palestine for decades. The latest escalation, in April and May 2021, was among the worst to date. With rockets hitting civilian locations far inside Israel, including Tel Aviv, for the first time, the US government was among those that asserted Israel's legitimate right to self defence. At the same time, the Israeli government’s response sparked criticism of disproportionate action threatening Palestinian civilians.
Crisis Action responded immediately, convening NGO partners and experts around the world within hours to consult how best to respond to secure protection for Israelis and Palestinians. There was clear alignment among those we convened: though the patterns of violence were grimly familiar, it was vital to move beyond a critique of the escalating violence and instead aim to unlock action to tackle its root causes and prevent even bloodier escalations in future.
Therefore, as a ceasefire agreement was reached on the latest round of violence, Crisis Action and partners pivoted to a strategy of encouraging the new Biden administration to fulfil its commitment to uphold human rights, and use its leverage to help prevent a future recurrence of the violence.
We coordinated a global letter signed by 680 prominent individuals and organisations from 75 countries – including Israelis and Palestinians, world leaders and Nobel Laureates – calling on the US to show leadership in addressing the root causes of conflict. We supported promotion of the letter on social media (where the hashtag #NowIsTheTime was seen nearly 12 million times worldwide), and secured coverage of the letter from international media such as Al Jazeera and Mediapart to regional outlets such as the Palestine Chronicle and Gaza Post.
Convening one of the largest, most diverse coalitions we have ever assembled on any issue, I’m proud of the contribution Crisis Action was able to make in such a short space of time to help boost momentum for action in tackling this most challenging of conflicts.
#NowIsTheTime: 680 leaders from 75 countries signed the letter calling on President Biden for action to tackle policies that abuse human rights and risk perpetuating violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
In response to February’s military coup and the subsequent violent suppression of peaceful protests, we convened a coalition of Burmese and international partners to issue a joint statement, signed by over 200 organisations from five continents, calling for action to end the violence, specifically a UN-enforced global arms embargo against Myanmar’s military junta. We ensured the letter was shared the world over, in media from the New York Times to the South China Morning Post, and through our #NotOneBulletMore social media campaign, seen by over 10 million globally in its first week alone.
With the UN Security Council unwilling to act and the regional Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) indecisive, we set about engaging member states from across the UN in support of the statement’s message. This culminated in July with a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an end to all arms transfers and condemning the coup – only the third time since the end of the Cold War that the UN has issued such condemnation through the General Assembly, and a move that, in the words of EU Ambassador Oloof Skoog, “sends a strong and powerful message…[that] delegitimises the military junta…and demonstrates its isolation in the eyes of the world”. It’s a message that would have been heard not only by the junta itself, but in Beijing and Moscow, whose governments have helped arm them.
With our passionate, energised network of partners, we continue our efforts to deny the junta the legitimacy they seek and encourage action from the Security Council to protect the civilians of Myanmar in the face of ongoing violence and a spiraling Covid-19 crisis.
Taking the Crisis Action Model Into New Sectors
Starting Digital Action was an experiment. Could the model of collective action pioneered by Crisis Action be adapted to ensure democracy and human rights thrive rather than suffer in the digital age? Two years on, we are still learning. However, it is no longer a question of ‘if’ the model can be applied, but ‘how’.
Digital Action is now a team of eight people in three countries. We have brought together over a hundred organisations, across ideologies and geographies, to help highlight the digital disruption of elections, spotlight how inequitably the online rules are written, and develop new policy ideas that can hold Big Tech to account for amplifying disinformation, polarisation and hate.
We have adapted the model to the different context in which we operate. With the membership and identity of our sector still in flux, we do not have core partners. We also have no single moral ‘magnetic north’ like Crisis Action has with the protection of civilians. Multiple principles and values - privacy, safety, freedom of expression, anonymity, accessibility, and more - are in play and often in tension. To organise a coalition in this context requires us to develop our own policy stance - there is no such thing as a ‘neutral broker’.
However, the model’s core - eschewing public profile, opt-in coalitions, the power of networks, the focus on impact – remains central to our work and the progress we have been able to achieve to date.
It’s wonderful to see Crisis Action continuing to inspire and support pioneers of collective action in other sectors, most recently with Climate Catalyst. Digital Action’s core focus will always be bringing ideas and people together to strengthen democracy in a digital age. But if the way we have adapted Crisis Action’s model to meet our objectives inspires other sectors to do the same, that will be a hugely gratifying bonus.
Learn more about Crisis Action’s award-winning model of collective action in our Handbook for Change and accompanying short film (above).
The Way Ahead: Our Strategy 2021-24
It was an honour to become Crisis Action’s new CEO in April 2021, and an added thrill that my inspirational colleague, Janah Ncube, agreed to join me as Deputy CEO. One of my first tasks was to work with Janah and our incredible team, partners and allies, to craft an ambitious new three-year strategy for protecting people from conflict across the world.
There are currently 80 million people who have been driven from their homes by conflict. The annual cost of violent conflict is estimated at USD 14 trillion - over 10% of global GDP. Women are disproportionately affected, subjected to horrific abuses including sexual and gender-based violence. And in the way it drives extremism, distorts political priorities and electoral outcomes, exacerbates climate change, increases division and inequality, and hinders how we overcome pandemics, conflicts touch us all in some way.
Against this backdrop, Crisis Action’s primary goal will continue to be the protection of civilians in specific country situations, but in ways that also drive wider system changes and reduce future threats. This will include:
- Using our model of collaboration and campaign co-creation to shift power towards marginalised groups and others most affected by conflict, so their voices are heard and shape policy and practice;
- Tackling gender inequalities and the exclusion of women from policy making and priorities;
- Pressing for greater respect for norms on the protection of civilians, including International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, and the agreement by governments that they have a Responsibility to Protect;
- Demanding quicker, more effective multilateral responses to prevent the escalation of violent conflict; and
- Countering where climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate conflict and reducing our organisational carbon footprint to net zero.
In addition, we will unlock new collaborations, searching out new allies and seeking new opportunities to share and replicate our model across sectors. Our team will become ever more diverse and more global, enabling greater engagement with Francophone Africa and Asia, and expansion of our pioneering Russia and China programmes. We are also tremendously excited to welcome Divya Iyer as our inaugural Director of Emergency Response, Learning and Innovation, to lead a new team focused on enhancing our creativity, learning, and ability to respond swiftly to emerging crises.
And of course, we will continue to nurture that special team culture that makes it such a privilege to serve and lead this team. I’m excited to build further on Crisis Action’s track record of impact. In a world where multiple, inter-linked threats to human security are on the rise, our purpose is as urgent, and our pioneering model of collective action as vital, as ever.
|2021 (£)||2020 (£)||2021 ($)||2020 ($)|
|Foundations & Individuals||2,746,633||2,784,929||3,898,022||3,437,549|
|Salaries & Related Costs||2,835,895||3,003,017||4,024,702||3,706,744|
|Travel & Travel Related Costs||23,017||248,051||32,666||306,179|
|IT, Comms & Office Supplies||117,557||156,622||166,837||193,324|
|(Deficit)/Surplus Before Taxation||681,032||8,015||966,521||9,893|
|(Deficit)/Surplus After Taxation||680,523||6,968||965,799||8,601|
Exchange Rate at 31st May 2021 (USD) 1.4192 1.4192
Exchange Rate at 31st May 2020 (USD) 1.2343 1.1343
2021 expenditure was lower than 2020 expenditure. In USD, it looks like 2021 expenditure was higher than 2020 expenditure. This is because USD depreciated against GBP in 2021.
|2021 (£)||2020 (£)||2021 ($)||2020 ($)|
|Cash at Bank||4,607,377||2,365,619||6,538,789||2,919,978|
|Capital & Reserves|
|Operating Overhead Reserve3||1,671,499||1,671,499||2,372,191||2,063,198|
|Capital & Reserves||1,988,766||1,308,243||2,822,457||1,614,816|
1 £125,824 ($178,570) of Debtors are grants due in 2020/21 but received in 2021/22.
2 £2,509,340 ($3,561,255) of Creditors is the amount of deferred income carried forward into 2021-22.
3 The opening USD reserves have been revalued using the May 2021 USD/GBP exchange rate.
4 Unrestricted funds includes three shares with a nominal value of £1. These shares are owned by the directors and do not earn dividends.
Statement of Activities
For the year ended 31 May 2021
Dr. Anna Neistat (Chair)
Legal Director at the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Prior to that, Anna was the Senior Director for Research, Amnesty International. Anna has conducted over 60 investigations in conflict areas around the world, and previously authored or co-authored over 40 Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports.
One of Africa’s leading human rights lawyers and Africa Director for the International Commission of Jurists. Previously, he was Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Paul Fletcher (Treasurer)
Chair of Teach for All and LeadersQuest. Board member of Systemiq and GIC. Paul has a wealth of experience in financial services, emerging markets, and the private equity industry.
Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa
An international lawyer and development expert. Formerly: Managing Partner of Hoja Law Group, Special Court for Sierra Leone, the World Trade Organization, and board member of Zambian Central Bank.
An independent consultant on organizational development, and human rights and the Middle East. Mona co-founded the Arab Human Rights Fund and Fund for Global Human Rights.
Regan E. Ralph
President and CEO of the Fund for Global Human Rights. Previously, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center and Director of the Women’s Rights division of HRW.
An independent consultant on communications and human rights. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and, UNICEF’s Director of Communication.
Bruno Stagno Ugarte
Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy at HRW. Previously, Bruno served as Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of Staff of the Foreign Ministry, and Executive Director of Security Council Report.
Our Team 2020-21
African Union team (Addis Ababa)
- Golda Keng
- Sue Mbaya
- Hany Wahila
European Union team (Brussels)
- Philip Amaral
- Sofia Fiammenghi
- Jaqueline Hale
- Pranjali Acharyi (London)
- Mohamadu-Moustapha Ba (Dakar)
- Robbie Baruch (London)
- Sarah Berry (London)
- Sophie Correia (London)
- Laura Couderc (Paris)
- Maya El Ammar (Beirut)
- Hlengiwe Makhaza (Rustenburg)
- Alistair Martin (London)
- Vivienne Miliza (Nairobi)
- Paul Musiol (Brussels)
- Rida Nazir (London)
- Michelle Oduor (Nairobi)
- Elvis Salano (Nairobi)
- Lynette Searle (London)
- Laura Whitby (London)
- Georges Zailah (Beirut)
Middle East and North Africa team (Beirut)
- Sulafah Al Shami
- Nanor Bitar
- Chermine Haidar
- Rayane Hassan
- Joe Keyrouz
- Karim Khalifeh
- Racha Mouawieh
- Jessy Nassar
- Djae Aroni
- Davis Makori
- Stephanie Musho
- Patricia Nyaundi
- Jean-Michel Betran
- Sylvain Biville
- Sophie Busson
- Armande Pembele
- Heloise Ruel
Senior management team
- Sacha de Wijs (Berlin)
- Andrew Hudson (New York)
- Janah Ncube (Bulawayo)
- Vijay Patel (London)
- Nicola Reindorp (London)
South Africa team (Johannesburg)
- Aditi Lalbahadur
UK team (London)
- Hayley Davidson
- Alison Griffin
- Eleanor Kennedy
- Martine Lekutanoy
UN team (New York City)
- Darren George
- Marie-Christine Ghreichi
- Eric Eikenberry
- Sienna Merope
- Gareth Sweeney
Washington DC team
- Fatima Ayoub
- Hannah Clager
- Carolyn Greco
- Kelly Horan
- Christopher Le Mon
- Mahad Ghani
A - D
- Action contre la faim (ACF)
- Aegis Trust UK
- African Centre for Justice and PeaceStudies (ACJPS)
- African Leadership Center
- African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF)
- Agency for Cooperation on Research in Development (ACORD)
- Amnesty - UK
- Amnesty International
- Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
- Atrocities Watch Africa
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- CARE France
- CARE International UK
- Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
- Centre for Conflict Resolution (CECORE)
- Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
- Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
- Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
- Christian Aid
- Concern - UK
- Concordis International
E - H
- Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
- Human Rights First
- Human Rights Watch
- Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)
- Humanity and Inclusion (formerly Handicap International)
I - L
- IDEA - International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
- IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) (Humanitarian Relief Foundation)
- Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS)
- Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
- International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC)
- International Crisis Group (ICG)
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- International Medical Corps UK
- International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
- International Rescue Committee
- Islamic Relief - UK
- Islamic Relief Worldwide
- Life & Peace Institute
M - P
- Médecins du Monde
- Mensen met een Missie
- Mercy Corps
- Nobel Women’s Initiative
- Nonviolent Peaceforce
- Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
- Oxfam International
- Permanent Peace Movement
- Physicians for Human Rights
Q - T
- Refugees International
- Save the Children - UK
- Stichting Vluchteling
- Support To Life
- The Elders
U - Z
- War Child - Netherlands
- War Child - UK
- West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
- Women International Peace Centre (WIPC)
- World Vision - UK
- World Vision International
A - C
- Abductees' Mothers Association
- Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT)
- Action for Sama Campaign
- Action Mopti
- Adalah Yemen
- Adopt a Revolution
- Afghanistan Justice Organisation
- Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
- African Defenders
- African Leadership Centre
- African Security Sector Network (ASSN)
- Africans Rising
- Afrikajom Center
- Alf Ba
- All Africa Council of Churches
- Al-Sham Humanitarian Foundation
- Alliance Internationale pour la défense des droits et libertés (AIDL)
- ALTSEAN – Burma
- American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARC)
- AnaTaban Arts Initiative
- Arab Reform Initiative
- ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
- Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA)
- Association des Juristes Maliennes (AJM)
- Association des Blogueurs du Mali
- Association des Femmes Africaines pour la Recherche et le Développement (AFARD)
- Association Malienne des Droits de l’Homme (AMDH)
- Association Nigérienne de Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ANDDH)
- Association Nodde Nooto (A2N)
- Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA)
- Association pour la promotion de l’élevage au Sahel (APESS)
- Association pour la Promotion Féminine de Gaoua (APFG)
- Ataa for Relief and Development
- Atrocities Watch Africa
- Baha’i University in Yemen
- Baytna Syria
- Better World Campaign
- Big Heart Foundation
- Binaa for Developments
- Caesar Families Association
- Carrot Co.
- CCFD - Terre Solidaire
- Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento (CDD)
- Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
- Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
- Centre Afrika Obota
- Centre Diocésain de Communication (CDC)
- Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
- Centre pour la Gouvernance Démocratique (CGD)
- Chad Transparency Organisation
- Collectif contre l’impunité et la stigmatisation des communautés (CISC)
- Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO)
- Concern Worldwide
- Coordination des Associations des Femmes de l’Azawad
- Coordination Nigérienne des ONG et Associations Féminines du Niger
D - F
- Danish Refugee Council
- Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center
- Denis Hurley Peace Institute
- Dernaa for Development
- Defaa for Rights and Freedoms
- Dhameer for Rights and Freedoms
- Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI)
- Disabled Agency for Rehabilitation and Development (DARD)
- Egmont Institute
- End Impunity Organization (EIO)
- Enjaz Foundation for Development
- Enough Project
- European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
- EVE Organization for Women Development
- Fada Association
- Families for Freedom
- Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)
- Fédération internationale pour les droits humains (FIDH)
- Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA)
- Fokus Sahel
- Forum Asia
- Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
- Friends Committee on National Legislation
G - I
- German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
- Global Justice Center
- Good Governance Africa
- Hand in Hand for Aid and Development
- Horan Foundation
- Human Rights Documentation Organization (HURIDOCS)
- Independent Doctors Association (IDA)
- Ihsan for Relief & Development
- Impunity Watch
- Independent Diplomat
- Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)
- Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri)
- Institut malien de Recherche Action pour la Paix (IMRAP)
- Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR)
- International Commission of Jurists
- International IDEA
- International Medical Corps USA
- International Youth for Africa (IYA)
- Investigative Journalism Centre
- IYD International Humanitarian Relief Association
J - L
- Jana Watan
- Josoor Syria
- Justiça Ambiental/ Friends of the Earth Mozambique
- Kesh Malek
- Life Peace Institute (LPI)
- Ligue des Droits de l'Homme (LDH)
- Ligue Tchadienne des Droits de l’Homme
- Little and More (LAM)
- Local Development & Small-Projects Support (LDSPS)
- Lutheran World Relief
M - O
- Masrrat Organization
- Ma’rib Girls’ Foundation
- Mouvement Burkinabé des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (MBDHP)
- Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights
- Myanmar Accountability Project
- Najda Now
- National Security Action
- National Solidarity Campaign for Cabo Delgado
- Nonviolent Peaceforce
- No PhotoZone
- Observatoire citoyen sur la gouvernance et la sécurité pour le Sahel (OCGS)
- Observatoire des Armements
- Observatoire Kisal
- ONG Eveil
- Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT)
- Organisation pour de Nouvelles Initiatives en Développement et Santé (ONIDS)
- Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI)
- Oxfam-Pan African Office
P - R
- Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)
- Peace Coalition for South Sudan (PECOSS)
- Peace Track Initiative
- People in Need (PIN)
- Plan International
- Physicians Across Continents – PAC
- Première Urgence Internationale
- Progressive Voice
- RASD Coalition
- Réseau de Réflexion Stratégique sur la Sécurité au Sahel
- Réseau des femmes de foi pour la Paix au Burkina Faso (REFFOP)
- Réseau nigérien pour la gestion non violente des conflits
- Réseau Panafricain Pour la Paix, la Démocratie et le Développement (Niger)
- Rethink Rebuild Society
S - U
- Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization (SRMO)
- Salam for Yemen
- SAM for Rights and Liberties
- Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
- Sawa Association for Development and Aid
- Search for Common Ground
- Secours Islamique France
- Shahid for Rights and Freedoms
- Sheba Youth
- Social Development International (SDI)
- Solidarités International
- SOS-Faim Luxembourg
- South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
- South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
- South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF)
- South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network (SSWEN)
- STAND France
- Sudan Focal Point Europe
- Sum of Us France
- Syria Bright Future
- Syria Relief
- Syria Relief & Development (SRD)
- Syrian American Medical Society
- Syrian Center for Media Freedom (SCM)
- Syrian Expatriate Medical Association – SEMA
- Syrian Female Journalists Network
- Syrian Forum
- Syrian Legal Development Program
- Syrian Network for Human Rights
- Syrian NGO Alliance
- Syrians for Truth & Justice (STJ)
- Ta’afi Initiative Syria
- Takaful al Sham
- Tanmia Association
- Terre des hommes Lausanne
- The Association of Detainees and Missing Persons in Sednaya Prison
- The Khost United Youth Association in Afghanistan
- The Sentry
- The Syria Campaign
- The South African Institute of International Affairs
- Thinking Africa
- Timbuktu Institute
- Transparency International
- UNICEF – France
- Union des Organisations de Secours et Soins Médicaux (UOSSM)
- Union fraternelle des croyants
- United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
V - Z
- Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)
- Violet Syria
- Watch for Human Rights
- West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
- White Helmets
- Win Without War
- Wogood for Human Security
- Women for Afghan Women (WAW)
- Women in Law and Development (WILDAF-Mali)
- Women Now for Development
- Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
- Yemen Solidarity Network
- Yemen Without Conflict
- Young Women Leaders Network
Our Donors and Philanthropic Partners
Crisis Action’s financial support comes from a range of foundations, governments and private individuals, many of which provide unrestricted multi-year funding. In addition, all of Crisis Action’s core partners make an annual financial contribution, with the exception of those located in the Global South. To ensure the organisation’s financial viability and safeguard its integrity and independence, we are continuously expanding and diversifying our donor base.
Crisis Action applies strict accountability and transparency standards to its funding relationships.
Foundations and Individuals
- Eagle Fund
- Greenbaum Foundation*
- Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
- Kerfuffle Foundation*
- Open Society Foundations
- Pears Foundation*
- Robert Bosch Stiftung
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- Silicon Valley Community Foundation
- Skoll Foundation
- Stanley and Marion Bergman Family Charitable Fund
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland (Stability Fund)
- European Union and Germany
- Global Affairs Canada
- Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
* Crisis Action is especially grateful to these donors for providing us with unrestricted multi-year support