The U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue was created by U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in May 2013 and the first cabinet-level meeting was convened September 2013 in Mexico City. Vice President Biden hosted the January 6, 2015 meeting in Washington. Participating U.S. agencies include Departments of State and Commerce, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In 2015, strategic goals are focused on energy; modern borders; work force development; regulatory cooperation; partnering in regional and global leadership; and stakeholder engagement.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 2, 2013. The press release says the treaty makes it "harder for human rights abusers, criminals and arms traffickers to obtain weapons" and gives a brief history of the treaty from the 1990s. ATT went into effect December 24, 2014. The United States signed the treaty, but Senate has not yet ratified it.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 was signed on December 19, 2014 as Public Law 113-291, "to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2015 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes." It requires a regular report on U.S. support operations in Afghanistan through 2017.
President Barack Obama announced changes to the U.S. policy toward Cuba on December 17, 2014. Changes include reestablishing diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, reviewing Cuba's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism according to the U.S. State Department, and increasing travel, trade, and commerce between the countries. In a speech to the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States Summit in January 2015, Cuban President Raul Castro describes conditions he wants as the two countries reestablish relations. At the Summit of the Americas in April 2015, which Cuba attended for the first time, President Obama and President Castro began discussions on these policy changes.
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty covers a variety of ocean-usage issues such as transit, mining, research, pollution, and resource management and sets out guidelines for nations. Territorial claims can be submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. On December 15, 2014, Denmark and Greenland submitted a claim to part of the Arctic, including the North Pole, which Russia and Canada each claim as their territory.
United Nations Climate Change Conference met in Lima, Peru, December 1-14, 2014. The conference aims to keep governments on track towards a universal climate agreement in 2015. The 2014 conference was the first time countries could undergo a review of developed countries' efforts to reduce emmissions.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. Their study was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. The CIA released its redacted June 2013 response to the study and the Director of the CIA John Brennan gave a new statement on December 9, 2014. The CIA also prepared a fact sheet on the history of the program and its responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee's main findings.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. The report covers the history of the interrogation program, the value of information obtained from torture techniques, and the CIA's and other government officials public statements about the "enhanced interrogation" program. The Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the torture program was ineffective and that some techniques were harsher than admitted previously. The report was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who led the investigation, stated that the classified, unredacted version of the report could be released later if necessary. The CIA released its own fact sheet and response.
In 2013, the Philippines appealed to the United Nation's Convention on the Law of the Sea in settling claims to territory in the South China Sea. On December 7, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the Chinese government's response, arguing that the Convention does not apply to the dispute in the South China Sea.
International leaders and donors met in London on December 4, 2014, and they reviewed the democractically elected government's reform initiatives for fighting corruption and boosting the econommy and its requests for continued financial aid as military troops leave.
President Vladimir Putin gave him annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly on December 4, 2014. he discussed events in the Ukraine related to the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement and current security situation. He also discussed his vision for the Eurasian Economic Union and other economic, business, and technology projects.
On November 26, 2014, the European Union adopted guidelines for search engines to use when deciding whether to remove, upon request, specific articles from search results for a person's name, in accordance with EU data privacy laws. These privacy laws are also referred to as "the right to be forgotten," for citizens to request that searches for their names not surface particular results.
In December 20, 2013, the Department of Defense was tasked with reporting improvements on the prevention and response to sexual assault in the military. It released its report on November 25, 2014. NY Senator Karen Gillibrand responded, saying data from the study that indicated that sixty-three percent of victims report being retaliated against for coming forward about their assault.
Department of Homeland Security released this review of executive actions that President Obama could take for reforming the U.S. immigration system. President Obama outlined executive actions he will take in a speech on immigration on November 20, 2014.
President Barack Obama spoke on November 20, 2014, to explain executive actions he will take address reforms in the U.S. immigration system. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Legal Council, and Council of Economic Advisors released analysis and recommendations for these reforms.
Rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries are increasing faster than in wealthier countries. The Independent Task Force outlines a plan for collective action on this growing epidemic.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »
Now Available: Foreign Policy Begins at Home
The biggest threat to America's security and prosperity comes not from abroad but from within, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass in his provocative new book. More