Research Projects

Below you will find a chronological list of research projects in the Studies Program. You can search by issue or region by selecting the appropriate category. In addition to this sorting control, you can search for specific subjects within the alphabetical, regional, and issue categories by choosing from the selections in the drop-down menu below.

Each project page contains the name of the project director, a description of the project, a list of meetings it has held, and any related publications, transcripts, or videos.


Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

Staff: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Fellow: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
July 7, 2016—Present

Outside of Japan, misconceptions about Japan’s constitutional debate abound, often driven by the headlines of the moment. To help understand the complexity of this Japanese conversation, Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, has initiated a broad conversation on CFR's Asia Unbound blog in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. What would a Japanese designed constitution look like? What would remain of the current constitution? How would today’s Japanese seek to alter the balance of power between the individual and the state? What individual rights might be asserted–or altered?

Some contributors have had–and will continue to have–a direct role in shaping Japan’s debate; all have an avid interest in understanding the currents and the consequences of what Smith sees as a defining conversation for the people of Japan. It is imperative that those outside Japan understand the debate and learn more about the advocates and institutions that will shape it.

Africa Strategic Opportunities Roundtable Series

Staff: Jendayi E. Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Studies
July 1, 2015—Present

The Africa Strategic Opportunities Roundtable Series examines new trends and regional dynamics that are shaping Africa's future and will impact U.S. policy opportunities on the continent. The emergence of new strategic players, especially China, India, and Middle Eastern countries, have created a more complex diplomatic landscape for the United States and African countries to navigate. Sustained economic growth over the past decade attracts interest in the region as a frontier and emerging market for global capital. Africa's entrepreneurs, rising urban middle classes and youth, and the introduction of new media are setting the stage for the next fifty years. Political stability and security remain fragile and depend on the increasing effectiveness of national and regional institutions. The African Union and sub-regional organizations in particular, have become more assertive in conflict resolution efforts across the continent, but long-term security will also require good governance innovation at the local and national levels. This series examines Africa's outlook after fifty years of independence from this new baseline by fostering discussion about the changing demographics, political and societal institutions, and the financial and physical infrastructure that will enable positive change. Hence the series focuses on new thinking and new strategies for Africa's transformation.

Northeast Asian Nationalisms and Alliance Management

Staff: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Director: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
September 1, 2014—Present

Japan is increasingly seen as being in the grip of nationalist politics. Regional diplomacy is rife with criticism of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his nationalist agenda. Leaders in Beijing and Seoul both call on Washington to rein in a Japan that is provocative and revisionist. Geopolitical change presents a dangerous background in which political leaders in Northeast Asia are stoking popular sensitivities. These complex dynamics have profound implications for the United States, and U.S. concerns about nationalism in Japan are already beginning to shape alliance management. The expression of U.S. "disappointment" in the wake of Prime Minister Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine in December revealed serious differences between Tokyo and Washington over Abe's willingness to exacerbate tensions in the region. This project, which will run from September 2014 to March 2017, will look carefully at Japan's nationalist politics to examine their impact on the U.S.-Japan alliance, and will engage leading experts from the United States and Japan in a conversation about how to manage these reactive nationalisms in Northeast Asia. Research findings will be made available on the Asia Unbound blog on, and through other writings. The project will culminate in a final report that will analyze the impact of nationalist politics on U.S.-Japan alliance cooperation as well as provide prescriptions for U.S. policymakers on how to navigate tensions between Japan and its neighbors in Northeast Asia.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S.-Japan Foundation.

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy

Director: Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy
December 2013—Present

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy brings together foreign policy and technology policy leaders to work toward a vision for a digital foreign policy to safeguard the open and secure Internet, ensuring it remains a platform for economic growth, innovation, and expression.

China and the Economy Roundtable Series

Director: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies
October 28, 2013—Present

The China and the Economy Roundtable Series is an ongoing series that will bring together a select group of economists, business leaders, and China experts to discuss what we know, don't know, and need to know about China's economy. Each session will focus on a different area of economic concern for China's leadership, such as the development of the service sector, the Chinese banking system, angel financing and venture capital, trends in the state-owned enterprise sector, and urbanization.

This series is made possible through generous support from the Starr Foundation.

Japan’s New Strategic Challenge

Staff: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Director: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
September 1, 2013—Present

Japan's security choices have far-reaching consequences for the United States. U.S. strategy in Asia depends heavily on Washington's alliance with Tokyo. Yet, frequent leadership changes in Tokyo have raised concerns in Washington about Japan's ability to be a strategic partner. Today, Japan faces a fundamentally different security environment. China's rise is beginning to challenge Japan's ability to pursue its national interests. Armed conflict between these two Asian neighbors has suddenly become a real possibility as a territorial dispute in the East China Sea has elevated tensions. Beijing has challenged Japan's administrative control over these islands, testing the ability of Japan's military to defend its territory. An aggressive and militarily powerful China could also test the U.S. commitment to defend Japan. Could this be the turning point for Japan? Will Japan finally assume a more proactive military posture in the U.S.-Japanese alliance? Or, will nationalism prompt Japan to act independently of U.S. strategic priorities? Dr. Smith will conduct research on the indicators of Japanese strategic transition, which will be the basis of a book on Japan's New Strategic Challenge.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation.

The Global Regulation of Medicines

Director: Stewart M. Patrick, James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program
September, 2013—Present

The project on the global regulation of medicines consists of workshops and publications that explore and identify institutional design solutions to address regulatory challenges for medicines. The primary responsibility of medicines regulators is to ensure that medicines consumed by publics are safe and effective. Agencies accomplish this through the implementation and enforcement of public health standards. Today's pharmaceutical market, however, poses significant challenges for regulators because the market is global, segmented, diverse, and decentralized—in terms of both finished products and ingredients. As a result, the remit of public authorities extends well beyond domestic borders, requiring oversight of actors globally.

This project is made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation.

The Roundtable Series on International Economics and Finance

Director: Robert Kahn, Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics
March 2013—Present

The Roundtable Series on International Economics and Finance aimes to engender dialogue on implications of global economic events, with an emphasis on issues on which policymaker and market-participant views differ. The series is based in New York, New York.

The Global Economics Roundtable Series

Director: Robert Kahn, Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics
February 2013—Present

The Global Economic Roundtable Series aims to bring together current and past economic policy makers to dissect policy challenges to U.S. and foreign economies. The series is based in Washington, DC.

Dual Use Research: Repercussions for Security

Director: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
January 18, 2013—Present

The Dual-Use Research: Repercussions for Security roundtable series examined issues of dual-use research of concern, synthetic biology, do-it-yourself biology, and international governance and oversight. These meetings brought together experts in the fields of synthetic biology dual-use research, and laboratory safety and regulation, to broaden the debate beyond the controversy surrounding the publication of two H5N1 flu-transmission studies in 2011–2012 and to discuss various aspects of the dual-use research of concern conundrum.

This roundtable series is made possible by the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Video: Staying Safe in a Biology Revolution

Working Paper: H5N1: A Case Study for Dual-Use Research

Global Health Norm Setting Roundtable Series

Director: Yanzhong Huang, Senior Fellow for Global Health
October 23, 2012—Present

Global health governance in the 21st century has been characterized by the rise of new actors, new problems, and new processes. While a lot of attention has been given to the negotiation of rules and norms to address health challenges at the global level, we still do not know much about how international health norms and rules are set at the regional level.This roundtable series will focuses on how global health rules, norms, and standards are established and how they should be developed in the future.

This roundtable series is sponsored by the International Institutions and Global Governance Program and made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation.

Military Affairs Roundtable Series, 2012-2013

Directors: Colonel Julian Dale Alford, USMC, Military Fellow, U.S. Marine Corps, Captain Peter A. Garvin, USN, Military Fellow, U.S. Navy, Colonel Brian M. Killough, USAF, Military Fellow, U.S. Air Force, Colonel John S. Kolasheski, USA, Military Fellow, U.S. Army, and Captain Peter Troedsson, USCG, Military Fellow, U.S. Coast Guard
September 1, 2012—Present

Roundtable Series on America’s Governability Crisis

Director: James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair
April 27, 2012—Present

The Roundtable Series on America's Governability Crisis focuses on the challenge of governing effectively during a time of sharp partisan polarization in Washington. The series seeks to examine the challenges that domestic division poses to developing and executing sound fiscal, economics, defense, and foreign policies. The series is held as part of the Renewing America initiative, which considers how policies at home will directly influence the economic and military strength of the United States and its ability to act in the world.

Illicit Networks Roundtable Series

Director: Stewart M. Patrick, James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program
March 21, 2012—Present

These working group roundtables, cosponsored by CFR and Google Ideas, are held in preparation for a major Google Ideas summit on illicit networks, that will take place in July 2012. The roundtables gather an intimate group of experts, policymakers, former participants and survivors of transnational crime to analyze the structure of illicit networks, and discuss gaps, flaws, or prospects in policies to combat violent transnational crime. The roundtable series is sponsored by a generous grant from the Robina Foundation to the Council on Foreign Relations' International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) program, and Google Ideas.

Meeting Notes:

Rescue Gone Wrong: Misconnections Between Policies and Lived Experiences of Trafficking (PDF)

Illicit Networks: Mafia States, Nonstate Actors (PDF)

Illicit Actors: Mapping Networks, Assessing Tactics (PDF)

Nigeria Security Tracker

January 1, 2012—Present

The Nigeria Security Tracker is an effort to catalog and visualize incidents of violence in Nigeria related to political, economic, and social grievances. This regularly updated, well-organized information captured through a rigorous survey of international and Nigerian press reports is intended to help policymakers understand with better precision the frequency, location, and types of violence that have continued to undermine Nigeria's stability.

Visit the Nigeria Security Tracker.