Council Special Reports

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.

Deterring State Sponsorship of Nuclear Terrorism

Author: Michael A. Levi

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.

See more in United States; Proliferation; State Sponsors of Terrorism

China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security

Author: Bruce W. MacDonald

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.

See more in Space; China

Sovereign Wealth and Sovereign Power

Author: Brad W. Setser

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.

See more in United States; Financial Crises

Securing Pakistan's Tribal Belt

Author: Daniel S. Markey

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.

See more in Pakistan; Politics and Strategy

Avoiding Transfers to Torture

Author: Ashley S. Deeks

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.

See more in Terrorism and the Law; United States

Global FDI Policy

Authors: David M. Marchick and Matthew J. Slaughter

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.

See more in Global; Foreign Direct Investment

Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

Author: Michelle D. Gavin

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.

See more in Zimbabwe; Nation Building

The Case for Wage Insurance

Author: Robert J. LaLonde

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.

See more in Business and Foreign Policy; Trade; United States; Labor

Nuclear Energy

Author: Charles D. Ferguson

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.

See more in United States; Nuclear Energy


Author: Robert I. Rotberg

This report describes what steps might be taken by Nigerians and the international community to avoid a breakdown of democracy, and possibly stability, in the wake of Nigeria’s April 2007 electoral contest and to tackle Nigeria’s fundamental challenges of governance, security, and development in the longer term.

See more in Nation Building; Nigeria

The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration

Author: Gordon Hanson

This report examines the economics of illegal immigration and finds that the fiscal benefits of illegal immigration offset its costs. Further, the report finds that the flexibility provided by the illegal immigration system that benefits the U.S. economy cannot be provided by the legal immigration system.

See more in Immigration; United States

After the Surge

Author: Steven Simon

This Council Special Report concludes that only if the United States disengages militarily will it minimize the strategic costs of its failure in Iraq.

See more in Iraq; Wars and Warfare

Darfur and Beyond

Author: Lee Feinstein

This report argues that the new UN secretary-general should take the General Assembly's endorsement of responsibility to protect as a mandate and as a mission statement. And the United States and others must take steps to bolster UN action and be available when the UN is not.

See more in Sudan; Humanitarian Intervention