Hugh Pope

From war correspondent to director of communications at the International Crisis Group

“We are trying to answer the question: What will politically work to end this conflict and save the most lives?”

The International Crisis Group employs analysts around the world to gather first-hand information from the field in order to prevent and resolve violent disputes. Communication Director spoke to Hugh Pope, the Group’s director of communications and outreach, about global threats to peace and stability, the end of the cooperative international order, and how to get vital expertise into the hands of decision makers. 

Interview by Dafydd Phillips

The International Crisis Group was founded in 1995 but would you agree that its communications has only recently come of age

The initial idea behind the Group was to connect information from the field in conflict-prone countries with top policy makers, to short circuit what was seen as an inability to get new information from the ground. The statesmen who set us up were trying to prevent, manage and resolve crises and the idea was that they would use information from field analysts to beat on the doors of western governments, often people they knew personally. You can imagine that in this working model there wasn’t much space for a communications plan. Our first reports were sometimes the length of a book, and published with the assumption that once the statesmen had made up their minds based on our information and analysis, they would do the right thing and fix the conflict. To give you an idea, until 2008 one of our principle means of communication was sending our reports by post to policy makers. I’m serious. I would also say that until a few years ago, our top leadership was completely agnostic about the value of social media.