Their pioneering collective impact model is ground-breaking. Crisis Action builds bridges and brings together a global network of civil society to speak and act in a coherent and collaborative way to propose solutions and pursue sustained results to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

- Jan Egeland, Secretary General, The Norwegian Refugee Council

The support from Crisis Action to Impunity Watch and their partners has been essential and wonderful. We work well because we share the same philosophy that the victims must lead; that no one speaks on their behalf. Thanks to Crisis Action’s efforts, a victims’ movement has reached the UN and will meet with the Secretary-General. Through this campaign, Syrian families are recovering their agency and something of their loss.”

- Habib Nassar, Director of Policy and Research, Impunity Watch

In their work, they have continued to demonstrate the power of pairing sophisticated geo-strategic analysis with unerring focus on action and impact. They have broken down unhelpful silos and brought new allies to their conflict prevention cause. Doctors, lawyers, artists, faith leaders, military figures, and former heads of state: all have been mobilised by Crisis Action at different moments when their voices and views will be crucial to spur political attention to the experiences and policy recommendations of communities impacted by conflict and those working with them.”

- Mark Malloch-Brown, President, Open Society Foundations

In the Sahel crisis, local civil society organisations have long been ignored. Through the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, Crisis Action has allowed us to be heard by people with power, from national governments to the UN Security Council. Today, everyone talks about protection of civilians in the Sahel, thanks to our collective work facilitated by Crisis Action."

- Flore Gisèle Coulibaly, Acting Board Chair, Organisation for New Initiatives in Development and Health (Burkina Faso)

Crisis Action brings together civil society from around the world to advocate for the protection of civilians from conflict with a stronger, smarter, collective voice. We repeatedly see that policymakers are more likely to take stronger and more effective action when NGOs coordinate and collaborate. Crisis Action’s unique model of convening and catalysing joint action makes the entire human rights community better able to secure respect for human rights.”

- Kenneth Roth, Former Executive Director (1993-2022), Human Rights Watch

Crisis Action plays such a vital role in developing the strategy, coordinating key actors, resourcing the coalition, sharing intelligence, and building and maintaining momentum.”

- Phil Lynch, Executive Director, International Service for Human Rights

Crisis Action's contribution to keeping the critical issues of our generation on the front burner of policymakers is vital. Their work convening and collaborating with a diversity of actors from a variety of sectors, who work and think differently, is essential to tackling the crises we face in Africa and across the world”

- Shuvai Busuman Nyoni, Executive Director, African Leadership Centre (Kenya)

Crisis Action has shown unwavering support to ensure that the crisis in Myanmar is not forgotten, and to help reduce the chances of further atrocities being committed by the junta. This has been a real beacon of hope.”

- Khin Ohmar, Founder and Chair, Progressive Voice (Myanmar)

What Crisis Action does so well is to put the voices of people affected by conflict at the heart of the peace process. They…have helped us ensure the voices of women are heard as we look to move towards a future of inclusive peace, justice and human security."

- Racha Jarhum, Director, The Peace Track Initiative (Yemen)

We are convinced that advocacy by Crisis Action and others resulted in life-saving policy changes that affected millions of people."

- Graeme Smith, Senior Afghanistan Analyst, International Crisis Group


Reflections on the Year from our Chair

Dr. Anna Neistat
Chair of the Board
Based in Paris

Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 is a tragedy first and foremost for the Ukrainian people. But the polarising political reactions, resultant food and energy insecurity, soaring prices and falling living standards, are all compounding the drivers of conflict across the world, particularly in the Global South. Adding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the challenges to protect civilians from conflict today may be the greatest for a generation.

However, I also firmly believe that Crisis Action was made for such challenges. In these times of uncertainty, inequality, and divisive politics, the world is calling out for strategic clarity, decisive low-ego leadership, and collaboration across nationalities, religions, sectors, and politics. This is what Crisis Action is about. It is intrinsic to our model. And thanks to the relentless passion and determination of Nicola and diverse yet close-knit international team, it is what Crisis Action delivers.

This year, Crisis Action built coalitions that helped protect civilians in nine different conflicts across four continents. We reacted quickly to the conflict in Ukraine but did not forget the civilians caught in multiple other crises now cast in its shadow - the protracted conflicts in Syria, Yemen and the Sahel, or the neglected crises of Myanmar, Mozambique, Haiti or Ethiopia.

We worked with artists, academics, activists, economists, influencers, international and local NGOs, policymakers, peacebuilders, Nobel laureates, world-leaders, and grass roots campaigners. As our partners have affirmed, we have "broken down silos and brought new allies", united "civil society to speak and act in a coherent and collaborative way" and "provided a real beacon of hope amid the darkness". Thanks to our campaigns this year, the input of civil society is being proactively sought by authorities in Yemen and the Sahel to help map the path to peace.

We have shown that we have the model, the team, the plan, and the network to achieve impact even in the toughest of places and circumstances. The challenge now is to sustain our existing network and draw in new partners and allies to ensure we can continue to attain our ambitious goals.

As part of this, I was delighted to welcome four new board members this year. Chris Gallagher, Preethi Herman, Elizabeth Seuling, and our new Treasurer Tania Songini have already brought real value to our work. We also said goodbye to board members Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa and outgoing Treasurer Paul Fletcher. They leave with the heartfelt thanks from us all for their years of service to this unique, impressive organisation.

Highlights from our senior leadership team

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    "When the Board asked me to become Crisis Action’s CEO, and extraordinary changemaker Janah Ncube agreed to be my deputy, I knew I was in for exciting times. As we crafted our organisational strategy, we foresaw a period of daunting complexity and threats to life. We knew we had to raise our game to raise our impact. But I didn’t foresee just how magnificently a small organisation like ours would sustain a track record of impact in the face of multiple challenges.

    Against a backdrop of collapsing civic space, Crisis Action pioneered new routes for civil society engagement to ensure peace and policy-making is informed by those most affected. We fostered solidarity - between Ukrainian women and South African activists, between Yemenis and Syrians, Georgians and Chechens.

    At a time of backtracking on women’s rights and shocking levels of sexual violence in conflict, women led the way as advocates in many of the campaigns Crisis Action convened - leading global media briefings on Yemen, campaigning for peace in Haiti, and addressing the UN Security Council every time they met to discuss the Sahel this year.

    We supported Ukrainians to demand protection, and drew attention to “forgotten” conflicts and crimes. We enabled Yemenis to demand justice and accountability. We worked with both this and last year’s winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, highlighting the link between respecting human rights and securing peace. We helped secure greater confidence in the multilateral peace and security architecture in the vote to exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. When the UN Security Council was blocked, we spurred action elsewhere – the UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council and beyond. And with Syrian partners, we made giant strides towards new support for the families of the hundreds of thousands detained in Syria whose whereabouts remain unknown – strides that bring some healing for the families and could have repercussions for conflicts the world over, for years to come.

    We achieved this thanks to our pioneering model and our global network of inspiring partners and allies. To them, and our incredible donors, I say thank you. The achievements in this report are yours. I’m proud and grateful to serve our incredible team and game-changing model of collaboration – now emulated by sister organisations tackling climate change and digital threats to democracy. I am convinced that through savvy coalitions and next-generation partnerships, we can secure change and tackle systems to make conflict less likely and less lethal for civilians the world over. "

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    "I had multiple moments of pride this year as Crisis Action worked with partners across the globe. Among them was the historic commitment we secured from Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, to open up civil society access at the AU. For decades, civil society has struggled to feed into the AU’s peace and security work. Now we have, in the words of our partner, Dr Japhet Biegon of Amnesty International, an “unprecedented” space for those affected by conflict to be heard regularly by those with the power to affect change: a landmark achievement that will empower civil society across Africa for years to come."

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    "Crisis Action has a proud history of protecting civilians in emerging crises through swift, targeted, and strategic action – this track record of impact continued in 2021-22 with our emergency response campaigns for Ukraine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Mozambique. However, we know the need for rapid response work in the wake of new and escalating crises is only increasing and there is more that we can do. I therefore could not have been more excited to join Crisis Action this year in a new senior leadership position, to lead our ambition to be nimbler and more impactful in how we forge our collaborations, and be ever more rigorous in our use of next-generation metrics to evaluate impact. I’m excited to build and lead our new Emergency Response, Learning and Innovation (ERLI) team, to meet the challenges of an ever-changing geopolitical landscape and drive even greater impact through early action and innovation over the years to come."

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    "Protecting civilians from conflict not only means responding immediately to breaking crises, but also engaging on longer term change, challenging those undermining norms and involving those with the power to protect – whoever they are. This year, our pioneering strategic engagements programme saw us work with academics, analysts, advocates and other experts to explore new ways of engaging China in conflict resolution in East Africa. In the face of heightened government oppression, we also supported independent Russian media and civil society to challenge state disinformation, draw attention to Russia’s repeated misconduct across multiple conflicts, and campaign for human rights within Russia itself. Using our unique model of collaboration to take on these innovative and challenging campaigns continues to be a source of immense pride for me. I’m excited to lead this work and build on our impact into 2023."

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    "Pioneering new avenues for protecting civilians from conflict inevitably brings new security challenges. So I’m proud to have led our investment in new security protocols that have kept our staff, partners and systems safe as we continue to take on the targets that so many others judge too tough. I’m pleased that, in a challenging environment, we have kept our finances sound, and maintained the close and supportive organisational culture that plays such a crucial role the impact we achieve. I'm also proud to work with the incredible women leading Crisis Action and spearheading the drive for peace in so many of our campaigns, as we continue to honour our organisational commitment to tackling gender inequality across all our work."

Building solidarity for the civilians of Ukraine

By Jacqueline Hale
EU Director
Based in Brussels, Belgium

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves across the world that will reverberate deep into the future. Many of the troubling issues raised by Russia’s action—the imperative to prevent rising violations of international norms and overcome divisions among powerful states in responding effectively to conflicts across the world—are central to Crisis Action’s concerns and our new organisational strategy.

Using a playbook familiar to Syrians, Putin’s ruthless attack on Ukraine’s people threw the UN into disarray, exacerbated tensions between the West and the Global South, and proved disastrous for the global economy.

Crisis Action immediately sprang into action, convening a call with over 80 partners and allies from across the world to assess how best to respond. Participants ranged from Ukrainian and Russian NGOs to the former prime minister of Finland.

To draw attention to the views of Ukrainian civil society, we helped secure high-profile support and media attention for the Kyiv Declaration - an appeal to the international community from Ukrainian civil society leaders. We also supported a delegation of Ukrainian civil society members to brief 24 government missions at the UN in New York. Representatives from the US, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania cited the delegations’ testimony in subsequent remarks to the UN Security Council.

I identify myself with those women and children [fleeing Ukraine]. I’ve seen this before in my continent. The camera has shifted from Africa to another place, but it is exactly the same trauma. For us it is a human tragedy, and it speaks to us the same way it speaks to the people of Ukraine. There’s no distinction at all.”

- Stateswoman and Deputy Chair of the Elders, Graça Machel, speaking in a webinar designed to help build solidarity between Ukraine and Africa

As the conflict continued, opinions divided along geopolitical lines, and governments in the Global South – notably Africa – came under pressure to take sides. Our strategy therefore pivoted to working with partners to build bridges between Ukrainians and Africans, fostering solidarity and challenging the spread and impact of Putin's official war narrative.

We supported a series of high-level webinars, starting with ‘A Just Peace for Ukraine’, hosted by leading South African media outlet, The Mail & Guardian. The event featured celebrated politician and humanitarian Graça Michel, who joined Ukrainian and African speakers in addressing a pan-African audience of thousands. We also helped secure extensive public, media, and social media attention for the launch of a landmark art exhibition by Ukrainian women artists - #TheWomanlyFaceOfWar – which toured South Africa with its depictions of the conflict’s impact on women and girls. The exhibit turned the spotlight on the victims of the conflict rather than just its perpetrators.

In October, we coordinated African civil society leaders to brief senior officials within the office of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister (FM), to ensure a planned diplomatic tour of African states engaged and reflected African perspectives. In the subsequent UN General Assembly vote to condemn Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories, Senegal – one of the four countries the FM visited following our briefing – moved from abstaining on Ukrainian issues to voting in favour of the resolution, suggesting efforts to foster solidarity are starting to bear fruit.

A short film produced by Crisis Action with the Ukrainian artists featured in #TheWomanlyFaceOfWar campaign

Spurring understanding and reconciliation in Ethiopia

By Racha Mouawieh
MENA Senior Advocacy and Campaigns Manager
Based in Beirut, Lebanon

In 2021, intense fighting between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian army began to spread across Ethiopia. The civilian cost was severe, with reports of widespread abuses including sexual violence from both sides. Yet, the conflict received little attention in the media or political circles outside the country.

Identifying the need for a regional response to the conflict, our campaign focused on amplifying African voices urging African authorities – including the African Union (AU) – to step up their response and increase pressure on all parties to come to the table for peace talks.

We worked with African partners and influencers on a social media campaign that got the message of solidarity #UbuntuForEthiopia (Humanity for Ethiopia) seen over six million times as it trended across East Africa. We coordinated a joint letter from 13 regional civil society organisations to the Chair of the AU Commission calling for a stronger response to the conflict. Appealing to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s strong evangelical faith, we also supported African partners to brief a delegation of leaders from the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) on the conflict - from Zimbabwe in the South, to Kenya in the East, Senegal in the West, and a diverse array of countries in between. We were delighted that following this, the AEA committed to developing a joint strategy with African faith leaders for high-level policymaker engagement on the resolution of the conflict.

Crucially, we also supported a delegation of regional and international partners to meet with Raila Odinga, former Prime Minister of Kenya, to encourage and support him to share their recommendations for a ceasefire and humanitarian access with Uhuru Kenyatta (then Kenyan President). When Kenya became Chair of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) the following month, President Kenyatta spoke privately with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and publicly addressed the UNSC, calling on all parties to the conflict to “come to the table to negotiate and end the fighting, to allow for humanitarian access to the people of northern Ethiopia and Tigray”.

Thank you Crisis Action for your help and for arranging these meetings [with UN Security Council members]. By ourselves, these meetings would have been impossible to obtain.”

- Dismas Nkunda of Atrocities Watch Africa

Having helped put the crisis higher on the agenda of political and religious leaders across the region, we exited our campaign towards the end of 2021, but kept in touch with partners, monitoring for further opportunities for impact. Shortly after violence erupted again in August 2022, ending the delicate ceasefire agreed just a few months earlier, Crisis Action supported a delegation of leading pan-African civil society leaders to share their growing concerns about accountability, humanitarian access, and civilian protection in Ethiopia with senior UN officials and UNSC member diplomats in New York. In line with the delegation’s recommendations, France – then President of the UNSC – convened the first informal UNSC dialogue on Ethiopia in over five months. Ethiopia was back on the Council’s agenda.

In November 2022, the AU announced a permanent cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia. However, our campaign continues to help ensure peace endures.

Graphic from the #UbuntuForEthiopia social media campaign coordinated by Crisis Action

Pushing for truth and justice in Syria

By Gareth Sweeney
UN Director
Based in New York, USA

It is over 10 years since the brutal state suppression of a peaceful uprising descended into conflict in Syria. In that time, over 100,000 Syrians have disappeared into a state-sponsored system of abuse and detention, with their fate unknown to their families.

Crisis Action’s work today supports partners - including survivors of detention and families of those lost – to press for an international mechanism to clarify their fate. The first initiative of its kind, this would, in our partners’ words, “overcome one of the hardest barriers in advancing toward justice, provide short-term relief and contribute to reducing the scale of enforced disappearance and torture.”

In 2021, Crisis Action supported the launch of Humans Not Numbers: The Case for an International Mechanism by the Truth and Justice Charter Group. We convened meetings with key UN member states and international agencies, and helped partners successfully persuade the UN Secretary General (SG) to produce a feasibility study on the proposal. The resulting study, published in August 2022, called on the UN General Assembly to establish an international body to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons in Syria and fund adequate support for victims, survivors, and families.

We have since worked with Syrian partners to push for this body to be established. In November 2022, Crisis Action helped facilitate a high-level roundtable event involving senior UN officials, alongside meetings with other UN Missions from the different regional groupings of the UN. We secured global media coverage, including a half hour television report featuring our partners Families for Freedom and Caesar Families, soon to be broadcast to an audience of 40 million across Latin America to encourage support from the region, given its shared experiences with missing persons. In December, following a meeting of the SG with Syrian families, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the SG, reiterated the SG’s call for UN member states to consider establishing the body and cited the SG's acknowledgement of the importance of meeting directly with civil society to advance such causes.

In 2022, we also worked with partners – including Oscar-nominated Syrian journalist and director Waad Al-Kateeb, who penned an op-ed for the Indian media to encourage the backing of the Indian government for the renewal of the UN Security Council resolution authorising humanitarian aid supplies to enter Syria from its neighbouring countries. Following sustained engagement by Crisis Action’s partners working with supportive governments and UN agencies, the measure passed in the Council, with Indian support. This critical intervention provides a lifeline for nearly four million civilians living in North-West Syria.

As grassroots Syrian associations, we don't have the capacities to do even half of the advocacy efforts we are doing now. A big part of our success goes to this amazing organisation that supports us. Thanks to Crisis Action we know where to focus our campaigning efforts rather than wasting our limited resources. And with the expertise and support Crisis Action has provided, we are getting to steps ahead of time and are very close to achieving one of our main objectives.”

- Ahmad Helmi from survivors’ group Ta’afi

Crisis Action partners ‘The Syria Campaign’ campaigning in Berlin for truth and justice for missing loved ones. Photo by Paul Wagner, the Syria campaign

Isolating the oppressors in Myanmar: a partner’s perspective

By Khin Ohmar
Founder and Chair
Progressive Voice, Myanmar

Our collaboration with Crisis Action began in the wake of the devastating violence that rocked Myanmar following the attempted coup in February 2021. We were so grateful for how Crisis Action opened the door to us, a local organization, creating space and opportunities to amplify the voices of Myanmar people globally - all while maintaining a low public profile themselves, to keep the focus on the people of Myanmar.

We really enjoyed working with them. They were genuinely collaborative, really listening to the concerns and recommendations of us and other partners as we co-created our campaign strategy. They were also creative and impact-focused with the tactics they proposed and implemented. Our joint action, together with larger civil society, ensured that the UN effectively rejected the military junta’s attempt to take a seat at the UN, and that the Permanent Representative of Myanmar U Kyaw Moe Tun, who bravely stood on the side of the people of Myanmar, continued to represent us instead. This significantly bolstered a movement against a military brazenly committing atrocity crimes with total impunity.

When Crisis Action concluded their campaign later that year, they didn't just withdraw and forget about Myanmar. We remained in close contact as they maintained a “watching brief”, ready to campaign again if another opportunity for impact arose. This happened when the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) decreed that Myanmar’s military should coordinate the humanitarian response in the country – effectively allowing them to dictate the aid agenda and exclude populations they are attacking, while ensuring aid would only reach areas loyal to the junta.

In response, Crisis Action facilitated a delegation of Myanmar and regional partners - our first to bring together regional humanitarian expertise, local aid responders and human rights defenders - to advocate at the UN for a humanitarian solution centred on recommendations from local responders. Supported by Crisis Action, we had frank and insightful conversations with key decision-makers, and presented practical recommendations on how to provide direct, effective aid in a way that won’t be weaponized by the junta. We also built new alliances with key academics, civil society organizations and other supporters, laying the foundations for further impact as we strive to shift the conversation on humanitarian aid – and power – to the people of Myanmar.

Crisis Action’s support has been strategically instrumental and vital. At a time when multiple global crises have dimmed the spotlight on Myanmar, Crisis Action has shown unwavering support to ensure that the crisis in Myanmar is not forgotten, and to help reduce the chances of further atrocities being committed by the junta. Amid all the darkness, this has provided us with a real beacon of hope.

Crisis Action-coordinated delegation of Myanmar partners to the UN, New York

Laying the groundwork for peace in Yemen

By Joe Keyrouz
Middle East and North Africa Director
Based in Beirut, Lebanon

Yemen’s savage eight-year conflict, between the internationally recognised government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and Houthi rebels supported by Iran, has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Crisis Action’s work with a diverse coalition of Yemeni and international partners this year focused on laying some of the essential foundations for a sustainable peace: accountability for abuses and violations committed during the conflict, the engagement of Yemeni civil society in the peace process, and focus on the roadblocks to peace.

We partnered with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies to run the ‘Spoilers of Peace awards’, giving satirical honours to individuals such as then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi for obstructing the path to peace. The media coverage we secured in key countries (particularly across the Middle East) highlighted the often-overlooked role of prominent Houthis in undermining peace efforts.

We partnered with Greenpeace on a campaign to prevent the FSO Safer – a decaying super-tanker stranded five miles off the coast of Yemen – causing an unprecedented ecological and economic disaster and adding fresh fuel to the conflict by leaking its 1.1 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea. The campaign involved spotlighting the impending disaster in media and social media (including through a satirical Twitter account purporting to be the tanker itself), and encouraging key governments to contribute to the United Nation’s salvage fund. In October 2022, the UN announced it had raised the funds needed to avert a catastrophic spill.

Supporting Yemeni civil society involvement in the peace process, Crisis Action invested in developing relations between new UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grunberg, and a wider cross-section of civil society organisations. Two round-table discussions in New York and a joint letter from local and international NGOs persuaded the Envoy’s team to commit to sustained collaboration with civil society, and in March 2022, the Office of the new Special Envoy consulted with political, security and civil society leaders on a new framework for a sustainable political settlement to the conflict.

Our campaign for accountability suffered an unexpected setback in October 2021, when the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) voted against renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) – the only international mechanism for investigating violations, crimes and abuses in the conflict. The vote followed a campaign of alleged “incentives and threats" by Saudi Arabia. Unsurprisingly, a sharp uptick in violence against civilians followed, with one Saudi-led airstrike in January becoming the worst civilian casualty incident in three years.

To push for a replacement mechanism that could better withstand the lobbying of vested interests, Crisis Action convened a workshop for 20 Yemeni partners to identify the obstacles and opportunities for a new mechanism and enhance collective campaigning capacity. The workshop included Syrian partners sharing their experiences of successfully campaigning for such a mechanism in 2016, with Crisis Action’s support.

We also coordinated a global media briefing on the 7th anniversary of the conflict, where an all-women panel of Yemeni and international partners highlighted the correlation between UN monitoring and reduced civilian casualties to make the case for action. The briefing resulted in media coverage in key countries that are members of the UN Human Rights Council. We followed this with support to Yemeni partners to persuade policymakers in target countries, including in meetings with high-profile US politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar.

The October collapse of the April truce was a huge blow to Yemeni hopes. However, our Yemeni partners affirm that Crisis Action’s work has helped increase the likelihood that future talks are accompanied by a clear path to justice and reconciliation for civilians.

What Crisis Action does so well is to put the voices of people affected by conflict at the heart of the peace process. They have created the space and supported Yemeni civil society to engage with experts at the Office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, and have helped us ensure the voices of women are heard as we look to move towards a future of inclusive peace, justice and human security."

- Racha Jarhum, Director of the Peace Track Initiative, Yemen

Tackling the roots of the conflict in The Sahel

By Mouhamadou-Moustapha Ba
West Africa Advocacy and Campaigns Manager
Based in Dakar, Senegal

International efforts to eradicate armed groups from the West African region of the Sahel have triggered one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and food crises, made worse by climate change. The second half of 2021 saw mass killings in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and coups d’état in Chad and Mali.

To shift regional and international policy on to a more people-centred approach, we continued to work with the ‘People’s Coalition for the Sahel’: the ground-breaking coalition of Sahelian civil society organisations created by Crisis Action in 2020 to support civil society in the region to take its rightful role in policy and peace-making.

In 2022, this work really stepped up. By the end of the year, we had supported the People’s Coalition to become a major player, cited and consulted by policy-makers at national and inter-governmental level, pushing the boundaries of how civil society is heard in the region and beyond.

In much of our efforts, women were at the front, in January, we supported Cécile Yougbaré, a leading Burkinabe civil society leader, to address the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the impact of the crisis and current failure to protect civilians, with a speech that the US Ambassador said would “certainly influence the US government’s approach to the challenges we face in the Sahel". In July, Crisis Action supported Rabia Djibo Magagi, of the Alliance for Peace and Security, to address the UNSC on the need to tackle the root causes of the conflict. The Brazilian UNSC President thanked Rabia for "enriching our meeting with her unique perspective as a champion and defender of youth and women's rights," while the Irish UN mission, one of the appointed UNSC leads for West Africa, indicated that they would draw directly on the Coalition’s work in the Council’s presidential statement.

The People’s Coalition influence was also felt at a regional level. Within days of the coup in Burkina Faso in January, Crisis Action supported People’s Coalition partners to share their concerns for civilian wellbeing with governments across the region, centring on a recommendation that the response of the regional body ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) should avoid the sanctions that brought dire humanitarian consequences following the 2021 coup in Mali. The contributions were widely welcomed by government officials, with promises to “use these messages as a template” for interventions at ECOWAS. On 28 January, ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso without imposing economic sanctions.

This report inspires us to do more and helps us to better target the issues that need to be addressed.”

- Djimé Adoum, High Representative of the intergovernmental International Coalition for the Sahel

June brought two milestone events for the People’s Coalition. Crisis Action convened and facilitated the Coalition’s first in-person meeting in Dakar, supporting members from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria to develop a joint advocacy plan to pursue reform for civilians in the Sahel.

We also worked with the Coalition to launch the report ‘The Sahel: What Has Changed’, evaluating progress towards addressing the crisis since the Coalition’s previous landmark publication ‘The Sahel: What Needs to Change’ in 2021. Working with the Coalition, we ensured the report's findings were shared through national and international media, and directly with high-level officials from the African Union, UN, European Parliament, International Coalition for the Sahel, and national governments.

The situation in Sahel remains volatile and dangerous, especially with the arrival of the Wagner Group – a Russian private military company linked to the Kremlin - in Mali. Ensuring the decisions of the Sahelian governments reflect and respond to civil society concerns will remain critical to protecting civilian wellbeing and laying the foundations for lasting peace and stability. Crisis Action will continue to work with the People’s Coalition, and support it to become fully autonomous, to ensure this happens.

We must stop talking about eradicating terrorists in the Sahel. What we need to eradicate instead are the reasons that drive our youth to take up arms.”

- Rabia Djibo Magagi of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, addressing the UN Security Council in July 2022

Rabia’s intervention was fantastic – a truly great demonstration on why the Council needs to hear from civil society on a regular basis.”

- Irish mission to the UN Security Council

The People’s Coalition for the Sahel advocacy workshop in Dakar, Senegal

Promoting human rights in Russia

By Sacha de Wijs
Director of Strategic Engagements
Based in Berlin, Germany

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, independent Russian media and civil society have been subjected to new depths of government suppression. Yet many, particularly those now exiled to neighbouring countries, are keener than ever to challenge Kremlin disinformation and raise awareness among Russian-speaking and international audiences of their country’s conduct in conflicts around the world.

This year, we facilitated new engagements with international media for Russian activists to share their stories on a regular basis. We also supported exiled Russian media to travel to the Middle East, to help them cover Russia’s conduct in Syria, where Russia has been implicated in human rights abuses and possible war crimes. Syria has been described as a laboratory for testing tactics now being used in Ukraine. The visit established new connections between Syrians and Russians that will facilitate fresh media scrutiny of Russian conduct over the coming months.

The media visit was a continuation of our work with partners and allies to highlight how impunity in one conflict risks driving further atrocities and abuses across others. In November, this work involved convening a ‘Dialogue Against Impunity’: an online panel discussion in which activists from Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine analysed and revealed common patterns in Russia’s conduct across the four conflicts, in front of a diverse global audience of academics, campaigners, NGOs, and journalists. The event was the first in a planned series that will inform a new strategy for securing accountability and justice for the victims of Russian violations.

The most significant landmark of recent months, however, was when – encouraged by a coalition of Russian and international partners – the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed a Special Rapporteur for monitoring human rights in Russia. Ahead of the September meeting of the HRC, we worked with partners including human rights defenders, independent journalists, and Nobel Peace Prize winners from this year and last, to secure supportive media coverage in an array of countries targeted for their capacity to propose and drive support for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. The establishment of a Special Rapporteur to Russia is a significant landmark for human rights and accountability: the first such monitoring mechanism ever mandated for a permanent UN Security Council member.

Securing an inclusive political transition in Haiti

By Sienna Merope-Synge
Former UN Advocacy and Campaigns Manager
Based in New York, USA

The killing of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on 7 July marked an inflection point in a dire political and security crisis. In the wake of the assassination, political gridlock worsened. Violence by politically-affiliated gangs intensified as they assumed control of significant parts of the country. The consequences for ordinary Haitians were severe. Over 18,000 were displaced, even before a huge earthquake in August killed over 2,000 and increased pressure on the country’s failing infrastructure and institutions.

The US pressed for elections by the end of the year. Following requests from Haitian civil society leaders, Crisis Action launched a campaign to raise awareness of the risks of rushed elections, targeting key UN officials and UNSC members. The effort included a delegation of women civil society leaders warning of further violence and making the case for a slower electoral timetable and a civil society-led inclusive political transition.

On October 15, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). The resolution called for review of BINUH’s role within six months, engagement with civil society, and echoed Haitian civil society calls by avoiding committing to a fixed electoral calendar.

Supporting a Global South voice at the G7

By Eleanor Kennedy
UK Advocacy and Campaigns Manager
Based in London, UK

In May, Crisis Action identified the attendance of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2022 as an opportunity to focus attention on the Ukraine conflict’s impact on the Global South and the imperative for G7 action to address this. We convened a coalition of African and international partners to call for a “global solidarity package” from G7 leaders, to address the drivers of conflict in the Global South.

Collaborating with President Ramaphosa’s office to complement his effort to raise the issue at the G7, we facilitated a joint letter to G7 leaders from over 40 African civil society organisations, and worked with African and international partners to secure media coverage in South Africa, Germany (the G7 host nation), and other G7 countries.

The G7 leaders’ communiqué reflected an intention to support Global South countries and communities affected by the converging crises – including with $4.5bn of new money dedicated to global food and nutrition security. However, the new pledges lacked the level of ambition needed to ensure vulnerable countries in the Global South can effectively respond to current and future crises.

Shifting the debate on Afghanistan

By Fatima Ayoub
US Director
Based in Washington DC, USA

In August 2021, the chaotic US military withdrawal from Afghanistan brought a new wave of violence and suffering as the Taliban reasserted control over the country.

Hours after convening partners to share perspectives on the escalating drama, Crisis Action facilitated a global press conference fronted by Human Rights Watch and Afghanistan’s most prominent human rights defenders. Over 60 journalists from outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Al-Jazeera got direct insight into the dangers faced by Afghans who had worked in human rights, journalism, activism, international forces, or for the previous government.

In the following months, Afghanistan’s economy slid towards collapse, leaving most of the country unable to feed itself. In response, Crisis Action worked with US, Afghan, and international partners to push the Biden administration towards relaxing sanctions against the central bank of Afghanistan. Our strategy centred on building and amplifying Democratic Party support for this shift, principally via briefings with senior US leadership and a letter from prominent Afghan political experts, academics, journalists, and economists.

Nearly 50 Congressional Democrats subsequently called on President Biden to “urgently modify current U.S. policy regarding the freeze of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and ongoing sanctions,” marking a significant breakthrough in the campaign. This was swiftly followed by the US Congress forcing a vote on the White House position on Afghanistan’s economy.

Having helped shift the terms of debate in those crucial early weeks after the US withdrawal, we exited our campaign, but remain in touch with partners and supportive of their work. Today the United Nations is pushing for the creation of a third-party trust fund to manage the $9 billion in frozen Afghan assets: a central call of our advocacy campaign.

We are convinced that advocacy by Crisis Action and others resulted in life-saving policy changes that affected millions of people”

- Graeme Smith, Senior Afghanistan Analyst, International Crisis Group

Prioritising humanitarian access in Mozambique

By Aditi Lalbahadur
South Africa Advocacy and Campaigns Manager
Based in Johannesburg

Now in its fifth year, the insurrection by armed militias in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region has had a devastating effect on the civilian population. Driven by perceptions of socio-economic exclusion in the resource-rich province, the conflict has seen multiple reports of beheadings, abductions, and razed villages. Over 800,000 people - half of the region’s population - have been displaced.

In October 2021, Crisis Action stepped in to support partners to make the case to the Mozambican government and its regional partners how to address the conflict’s root causes.

With Crisis Action help, a coalition of Mozambican, South African, and pan-African partners produced a report, ‘Humanising Insecurity in Cabo Delgado’, to expose those profiteering from the conflict, and put faces and names to insurgency leaders in a powerful challenge to the government of Mozambique’s assertion that it was not able to negotiate with a “faceless enemy”.

We secured attendance at the report’s launch from over 50 leaders, diplomats, and officials from across Southern Africa and many European countries, and shared its findings through national and international media coverage. The African Union’s Special Envoy for Mozambique was among those to request a copy and a briefing with partners. Policymakers have subsequently affirmed that the report has become an essential resource for all diplomats and decision-makers concerned with tackling the conflict.

The report ‘Humanising Insecurity in Cabo Delgado’ produced by a pan-African coalition of Crisis Action partners

Engaging China on Peace in Africa

By Joshua Rosenzweig
China Consultant

Building on Crisis Action’s pioneering work the previous year engaging China in support of peace in South Sudan, in December 2022, Crisis Action we convened an online roundtable discussion in which a select group of academics, analysts, advocates and other experts in China-Africa relations and Chinese foreign and development policy, exchanged observations about China’s Global Security Initiative (GSI) and its implications for conflict resolution in the Horn of Africa. The area remains the focus of our work engaging China in peacebuilding, given Crisis Action’s long (and expanding) record of impactful campaigning with local partners and China’s extensive (and also expanding) regional investment.

Moderated by our partner, Dr Cobus van Staden from the China Global South Project and the South Africa Institute for International Affairs, the discussion aimed to uncover approaches to leveraging China’s global ambitions in ways that promote lasting peace and security in the region.

The roundtable concluded that much of China’s economic engagement in the region – in the form of infrastructure development or investments that help to create employment opportunities – are necessary parts of long-term regional stability and security. However, participants also cautioned that investments that exacerbate economic disparities, are not inclusive, or not rooted in alleviating underlying social tensions, can have the opposite effect. This was something, participants felt, that deserves more attention in the process to end the conflict in Ethiopia.

Informed by the outcomes of this roundtable, Crisis Action will now look to expand our engagement of China in conflict resolution - initially in East Africa, before applying the tactics and learnings to other regions in the Global South where China has the potential to play a leading constructive role in the protection of civilians from conflict.

A mural depicting the hope local children have for peace in South Sudan with Chinese support, produced as part of Crisis Action’s engagement of China in East Africa in 2021

Supporting collective impact in new sectors

By Hayley Davidson
UK Director
Based in London

Crisis Action’s award-winning model of strategic convening can harness the diverse strengths of many to generate impact no one organisation or individual can have alone. To increase our impact across and beyond our sector, we are supporting new collaborations that draw on our model and experience in new spaces.

This includes two ‘sister’ organisations – Digital Action and Climate Catalyst – that are using and evolving our model. The model’s core principles – eschewing public profile, bespoke opt-in coalitions, the power of networks, and the focus on impact – remain central to their work and impact.

Buoyed by the impact we continue to have in conflicts around the world - evidenced throughout this report - we are keen to share our award-winning model with others, and spur new forms of impactful collaboration. As so many partners have told us, the Crisis Action model has never been more critical, urgent, and relevant as in today’s turbulent times.

Learn more about our award-winning model of collective action in our Handbook for Change.

The Crisis Action model has been protecting civilians from conflict for over 17 years. I’m proud to be leading the team applying and adapting its pioneering principles to tackling the climate emergency, following the inspirational example of the Nicola and her team.

The climate community has many incredible organisations and inspirational leaders. But new forms of deeper collaboration will greatly increase our overall impact, as Crisis Action has shown. We're working with our partners to find new ways to reach new audiences, influence policy, and create the future we want and need.”

- Stephen Hale, Chief Executive, Climate Catalyst

About Crisis Action, our partners and donors

Income 2022 (£) 2021 (£) 2022 ($) 2021 ($)
Foundations & Individuals 2,226,767 2,746,633 2,815,412 3,898,022
Governments 610,231 1,091,735 771,546 1,549,390
Partnership Contributions 123,261 128,667 155,846 182,604
Other Income 157,345 208,460 198,940 295,846
Interest 439 2,672 555 3,791
Total 3,118,043 4,178,166 3,942,298 5,929,653
Expenditure 2022 (£) 2021 (£) 2022 ($) 2021 ($)
Salaries & Related Costs 2,631,804 2,835,895 3,327,521 4,024,702
Occupancy 180,347 194,373 228,022 275,855
Travel & Travel Related Costs 147,966 23,017 187,081 32,666
IT, Comms & Office Supplies 131,523 117,557 166,291 166,837
Publications 50,730 76,650 64,140 108,781
Events 11,038 5,849 13,955 8,301
Professional Fees 79,215 67,559 100,155 95,879
Asset write-off 19,818 14,527 25,057 20,617
Finance Charges -51,923 152,720 -65,648 216,740
Depreciation 10,716 8,987 13,548 12,755
Total 3,211,233 3,497,134 4,060,122 4,963,132
Deficit/Surplus 2022 (£) 2021 (£) 2022 ($) 2021 ($)
(Deficit)/Surplus Before Taxation -93,190 681,032 -117,824 966,521
Taxation 508 -509 642 -722
(Deficit)/Surplus After Taxation -92,682 680,523 -117,183 965,799

Exchange Rate at 31st May 2022 £1 =US$1.2644

Exchange Rate at 31st May 2021 £1 = US$1.4192

Statement of Activities

For the year ended 31 May 2022

Total Income