CFR Projects

Below you will find a chronological list of CFR projects. CFR projects include research programs, study groups like roundtables, events series like "What to Do About ...," and other activities.

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.


Roundtable Series on New Approaches to National Security

This series provides a forum for policy experts, academics, and practitioners to discuss new approaches to national and international security. The broad range of topics addressed include military operations, counterterrorism, outer space, cybersecurity, and the role of the private sector. 

Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

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.

Independent Task Force on U.S. Strategy in the Arctic

With the Arctic warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet and melting sea ice opening up the resource-rich region to new trade routes and commercial activities, the Arctic offers both opportunities and challenges for the United States and other countries.

Composed of twenty experts from a wide range of backgrounds, the Independent Task Force on U.S. Strategy in the Arctic was convened to assess U.S. interests in the region in the face of changing conditions there. Released in March 2017, the group's report, Arctic Imperatives: Reinforcing U.S. Strategy on America's Fourth Coast, concludes that the region is of growing economic and geostrategic importance and proposes specific actions to improve the United States’ strategic presence in the Arctic, including bolstering infrastructure investment, defending national borders, protecting the environment, and maintaining U.S. scientific and technological leadership. 

The project was co-chaired by Admiral Thad W. Allen, former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and governor of New Jersey, and directed by Esther Brimmer, CFR adjunct senior fellow for international institutions and former assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs. 

Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward North Korea

For over forty years, the Korean Peninsula has been trapped in a familiar cycle of provocation. Yet in some ways, developments of the past year have altered the North Korea problem in important ways, offering the next U.S. president new opportunities to halt the cycle of provocation and increase pressure on North Korea to resolve its nuclear and human rights problems.

Over the past several months, the Council on Foreign Relations has sponsored an Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward North Korea—co-chaired by retired Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative—to assess current U.S. policy and offer plausible policy guidance for U.S. leaders in face of this uniquely challenging threat. Directed by Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former CFR Stanton Nuclear Security fellow, the Task Force released a report of its findings and recommendations, A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia, in September 2016.

Africa Strategic Opportunities Roundtable Series

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.

Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics 2014: 100th Anniversary of the Federal Reserve System

This symposium is presented by the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and is made possible through the generous support of Stephen C. Freidheim.

Rapporteur Report (PDF)

Transcript: Session One: A Conversation With Stanley Fischer

Transcript: Session Two: The Federal Reserve--Looking Back and Forward

Transcript: Session Three: A Session With Former Central Bankers

Northeast Asian Nationalisms and Alliance Management

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 New Geopolitics of China, India, and Pakistan Roundtable Series

Part of a two-year collaborative project, the New Geopolitics of China, India, and Pakistan Roundtable Series examines the changing interactions among China, India, and Pakistan as they respond to new stresses and geopolitical pursuits. The series will inform fellows’ work in considering how the United States should approach its policy toward the greater southern Asia region in the coming years.

This project is made possible in part by a generous grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

Symposium Videos (May 4, 2016):

Related Blog Posts:

Unfinished Universal Health Coverage Agenda Roundtable Series

Global momentum is quickly building for universal health care (UHC), defined by the World
Health Organization as "ensuring that all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services." In January 2012, health ministers from around the world gathered in Bangkok and committed themselves to "rais[ing] universal health coverage on the national, regional and global agendas." Four months later, the World Health Assembly formally adopted a resolution calling for worldwide UHC. In her address to the assembly, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan described UHC as "the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer." In December, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on UHC, encouraging national governments worldwide to "plan or pursue the transition towards universal access to affordable and quality health-care services." The unprecedented support that the UHC agenda has received from
national governments, civil society, and international organizations significantly boosted its chances of being included in the post-2015 Millennium Development Framework as a unifying and central health goal that crosses political and economic lines.

Achieving sustainable UHC requires health systems to deliver progress on access to coverage with financial risk protection and access to coverage for needed health services. While the global rebalancing of wealth and the growing political commitment to the health sector have enabled many more countries to make significant domestic investments in their health systems, countries aspiring to expanding coverage continue to face challenges on how to remove financial barriers to access and reduce financial risks of illness. Their efforts to address these challenges are further complicated by the ongoing economic and financial crisis and the shifting demographic and epidemiological landscape (e.g., population movement and aging, the rise of noncommunicable diseases). These issues are critical for successful implementation of UHC, yet thus far, have not been addressed adequately.

The project on Unfinished Universal Health Coverage Agenda will be under the direction of Senior Fellow for Global Health Yanzhong Huang. This project has been made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Independent Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases

The Council on Foreign Relations has launched an Independent Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), co-chaired by Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., former governor of Indiana, and Thomas E. Donilon, former national security adviser.

The Task Force plans to examine the NCD crisis in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and recommend a strategy for the United States and others to adopt to address it. This is the first CFR Task Force devoted to a global health matter, but its inquiry will extend beyond health issues and will also consider the question of U.S. engagement on NCDs in LMICs as a matter of U.S. foreign policy, national security, and promotion of international economic development and trade.

The project is directed by Thomas Bollyky, CFR senior fellow for global health, economics, and development. The Task Force was launched in February and concluded its work in December 2014, with the release of its report, The Emerging Global Health Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countriesand an accompanying web interactive

What to Do About...

Each meeting in the series will highlight a specific issue and feature experts who will put forward competing analyses and policy prescriptions in a mock high-level U.S. government meeting.

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy

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

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.

U.S. Relations With South Asia Roundtable Series

The U.S. Relations with South Asia Roundtable Series is an ongoing series that provides a forum for leading U.S. and South Asia experts to analyze domestic and foreign policy in the region, with a focus on business and economic issues.

Independent Task Force on North America

The Council on Foreign Relations has convened an Independent Task Force on North America, co-chaired by David H. Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank.

The Task Force will provide a comprehensive analysis of North American integration in areas including trade, security, migration, energy, and infrastructure, and will generate policy recommendations designed to enhance U.S. and regional competitiveness and well-being.

Shannon K. O'Neil, CFR's senior fellow for Latin America Studies, serves as the project's director. The Task Force was launched in October 2013 and concluded its work in October 2014, with the release of its report, North America: Time for a New Focus

Japan’s New Strategic Challenge

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

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.

West Coast and Washington Conference Call Series

The "West Coast and Washington" conference call series examines global issues of particular interest to businesses on the West Coast, and the impact of Washington policies and politics. The series provides opportunities for the West Coast and Washington to engage on topics including digital policy, data, intellectual property rights, immigration, and other issues related to U.S. competitiveness and technology.