NGO AND PEACEBUILDING ACTIVITY
Since leaving the U.S. Foreign Service, Cavanaugh has been heavily engaged with international non-governmental organizations, helping them advance dialogue and peacebuilding initiatives. Examples include his work with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (Geneva) to improve the practice of mediating armed conflicts and participation in a high-level push to improve gender balance in the appointment of special envoys by the United Nations, European Union, and OSCE. In 2017, he joined with Peaceful Change Initiative (London), speaking in Kyiv before the Human Rights Committee of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) on the importance of properly supporting Ukrainian citizens now living in Crimea and the breakaway Donbass and Luhansk regions.
Cavanaugh has participated in several Track 1.5 and Track 2 diplomacy efforts focused on the South Caucasus. In 2009, he took part in Conciliation Resources’ (London) 'Karabakh 2014 Project' and for five years supported its Karabakh Contact Group. This effort, backed by the European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (Brussels), gave local activists and experts from all sides opportunities to exchange views face-to-face on key issues impeding the peace process. Cavanaugh was also involved in an attempt advanced by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (London) to improve Russian-Georgian relations. From 2014-2018, he served as a director and trustee of Conciliation Resources.
From 2018-2023, Cavanaugh was Chair of International Alert, a major independent peacebuilding NGO. Headquartered in London, with a European office in The Hague, this NGO’s full-time staff of approximately 250 is primarily based overseas, working directly with those affected by international conflict. Alert partners with over 800 organizations in more than 25 countries & territories on projects designed to prevent the outbreak of conflict, build support for approaches to peace, and facilitate reconciliation. Alert’s chief areas of operation are Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa, and Asia (with a significant operation in the Philippines). It also supports peace activities in the Caucasus, Ukraine and Central Asia.