Council Special Reports (CSRs) are concise policy briefs that provide timely responses to developing crises or contributions to current policy dilemmas. The Studies Program commissions a CSR when events make a particular situation or conflict ripe for useful intervention and the window of opportunity is likely to close if action is not taken in a timely manner. Because a Special Report can be prepared quickly, it can have an impact when changing events create a space for useful involvement.
Recent events in Darfur raise the familiar question of whether international law facilitates the kind of early, decisive, and coherent action needed to effectively combat genocide. Matthew C. Waxman argues that putting decisions about international intervention solely in the hands of the UN Security Council risks undermining the threat or use of intervention when it may be most potent in stopping mass atrocities.
For more than a decade, the United States has mostly watched from the sidelines as Asian countries organize themselves into an alphabet soup of new multilateral groups. In this report, the authors review the relationship between pan-Asian and trans-Pacific institutions and suggest policy guidelines for a new U.S. approach to this new Asian landscape. A purposeful multilateralism that pools the efforts of those with the greatest capacity, the authors argue, could make Asia a more prosperous and secure region.
The United States can ill afford the burden of additional foreign policy challenges, making it imperative that the U.S. government find ways to identify, delay, and avert international crises that could harm U.S. interests or even lead to military engagement. In this report, the authors provide an actionable road map for how the U.S. government should revamp its existing U.S. prevention architecture to make it more effective in dealing with potential crises abroad.
The Canadian oil sands present an important challenge to policymakers: they promise energy security benefits but present climate change problems. Michael A. Levi assesses the energy security and climate change effects of the oil sands and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers within the context of broader bilateral relations with Canada.
Seaborne commerce remains the linchpin of the global economy. And beyond trade, a host of other issues, ranging from climate change and energy to defense and piracy, ensure that the oceans will hold considerable strategic interest well into the future. In this report, Scott G. Borgerson explores an important element of the maritime policy regime: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He examines the international negotiations that led to the convention, the history of debates in the United States over whether to join it, and the strategic importance of the oceans for U.S. foreign policy today.
This report looks at Russia's rise as an energy power, analyzing its control of supplies and delivery systems and its investments in energy infrastructure across Europe, as well as questions about the potential of its production, recognizing that European dependence on Russian energy will be a reality well into the future and that Europe can increase its energy security only by working with--not against--Russia.
North Korea has long been a serious concern to Washington. Now, with President Kim Jong-Il reportedly in bad health and possibly naming a successor, the United States must consider possible outcomes should the situation deteriorate and the current North Korean government collapse. This report examines the challenges that these scenarios would pose--ranging from securing Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal to providing humanitarian assistance--in the context of the interests of the United States and others in its valuable recommendations.
This report comprehensively analyzes Ukraine's difficulties, related to both domestic conditions and foreign policy, and recommends ways for the United States to encourage Ukraine on a path of stability and integration with the West.
This report lays out a thoughtful agenda for U.S. policy toward the Democratic Republic of Congo, arguing that what happens there should matter to the United States—for humanitarian reasons as well as economic and strategic ones.
Unlike during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack now comes from rogue states that receive their weapons from sovereign nations. In this report, Michael A. Levi outlines how to discourage those nations from giving their nuclear technologies to terrorists, how to prevent accidental transfers, and the role that nuclear attribution plays in contemporary proliferation.
In this report, Bruce W. MacDonald illuminates the strategic landscape of military space competition between the United States and China and highlights the dangers and opportunities the United States confronts in space.
The rise in China's trade surplus, the increase in oil prices, and a slowdown in demand for U.S. assets from private investors abroad has increased the United States' reliance on foreign governments for financing. This report examines whether the United States' ability to secure large quantities of external financing from foreign governments is a reflection of its political power, a constraint on its ability to exercise power, or a combination of the two.
This report outlines the nature of the challenges in Pakistan's tribal areas, formulates strategies for addressing those challenges, and distills the strategies into realistic policy proposals worthy of consideration by the incoming administration.
This report analyzes the debate over U.S. use of assurances against torture, explaining the contexts in which they are used, how they can be conveyed, and what they can contain, and recommends a number of ways to respond to criticism so that the United States can continue using assurances.
In the past three years, many countries have adopted or expanded regimes to review inward foreign direct investment (FDI) for either national or economic security purposes, reducing the quantity and quality of global FDI flows. The policy recommendations in this report aim to correct this protectionist drift by proposing guidelines for how countries can better regulate FDI yet still reap its economic benefits.
In this Council Special Report, Mona Yacoubian and Scott Lasensky make a strong case that the Bush administration’s policy of diplomatic isolation of Syria is not serving U.S. interests, and offer informed history and thoughtful analysis of the country and its external behavior. This report is also available in Italian.
Since 2000, President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to tolerate challenges to his power has led him to systematically dismantle the workings of Zimbabwe’s economic and political systems, replacing them with structures of corruption, intimidation, and repression. Michelle D. Gavin surveys the current situation in Zimbabwe, identifying current structural and legal impediments to economic and political recovery.
A flexible labor market and an open economy are crucial to economic competitiveness, but can sometimes cause prime-aged and older workers to suffer large, long-term income losses. This report explains why existing government programs, which emphasize retraining and insurance for short-term job loss, don't assuage workers' fears about globalization. It also proposes a shift of resources from existing programs to wage insurance.
With IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato resigning in October, a new report analyzes the reform measures that will be bequeathed to Mr. de Rato's successor, and argues that the reform measures deserve the support of the United States, including the U.S. Congress when it is asked to implement some of the key measures.
This report examines the contributions that an expanded use of nuclear energy can make to improving energy security and reducing global warming while balancing these benefits against the risks and lingering questions over nuclear energy’s safety and security.
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