What We Do


CFR’s membership represents a group unmatched in accomplishment and diversity in the field of international affairs. In this video, members including Robert E. Rubin, Condoleezza Rice, Fareed Zakaria, and Angelina Jolie explain why CFR is a trusted and indispensable resource on the foreign policy choices facing the United States. 


Our Leadership

Council on Foreign Relations
Cofounder and Co-executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group
Vice Chairman
Cofounder, Centerview Partners
Vice Chairman
CEO and Vice Chairman, Kissinger Associates

Our History

The Founders of CFR

After the difficult negotiations of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, a group of diplomats, financiers, generals, and lawyers concluded that Americans needed to be better prepared for significant responsibilities and decision-making in world affairs. With this in mind, they founded the Council on Foreign Relations in 1921 to “afford a continuous conference on international questions affecting the United States, by bringing together experts on statecraft, finance, industry, education, and science.”


Shannon O'Neil speaking at a Term Member Conference

The Council on Foreign Relations is first and foremost a membership organization whose individual and corporate members represent a group unmatched in accomplishment. Based throughout the country and around the world, CFR members are exposed to top talent and expertise brought together to generate intellectual conversation regarding the most relevant topics in foreign policy and international relations.

2019 Annual Report
2019 Annual Report of the Council of Foreign Relations

The 2019 Annual Report of the Council of Foreign Relations is available online.


The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

“The mission is to be a resource and a source of ideas, and to provide analysis and background to help people understand the world.” — Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations

Arthur Ross Book Award

Arthur Ross Award Logo

The annual Arthur Ross Book Award recognizes books that make an outstanding contribution to the understanding of foreign policy or international relations. The prize, endowed by the late Arthur Ross in 2001, is for nonfiction works from the past year, in English or translation, that merit special attention for: bringing forth new information that changes the understanding of events or problems; developing analytical approaches that offer insights into critical issues; or introducing ideas that help resolve foreign policy problems.

Foreign Affairs

Published by the Council on Foreign Relations since 1922, just a year after the organization’s founding, Foreign Affairs has long been America’s leading forum for serious discussion of foreign policy and international affairs.