Backgrounders

Authoritative, accessible, and regularly updated primers on hundreds of foreign policy topics.

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

The swift development of effective vaccines against the new coronavirus was an unprecedented scientific achievement. But production challenges, vaccine nationalism, and new virus strains have all presented hurdles.

Middle East and North Africa

What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining U.S. interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, hurt the chances of a peace deal.

Explainers Video Filters and Cards

Americas
U.S. Detention of Child Migrants
Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border each year, sparking debate over how to respond. A recent rise in their numbers has challenged the Biden administration.
Ukraine
Ukraine: Conflict at the Crossroads of Europe and Russia
Ukraine has struggled to forge an independent path, torn between Europe and the United States in the West and its long-standing ties to Russia in the East.
World Trade Organization (WTO)
What’s Next for the WTO?
In the wake of President Trump’s combative approach to trade, and with major negotiations stalled, the future of global trade rules is in doubt.  
Climate Change
Global Climate Agreements: Successes and Failures
International efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say countries aren’t doing enough to limit dangerous global warming.
Cuba
U.S.-Cuba Relations
Communist Cuba has long been a major foreign policy challenge for the United States. President Biden is the latest U.S. leader to grapple with how to balance democracy promotion with the desire for a better bilateral relationship.
G20 (Group of Twenty)
The Group of Twenty
The Group of Twenty, an informal gathering of many of the world’s largest economies, is the premier global forum for discussing economic issues. But it has faced divisions over trade and the response to climate change.
Infrastructure
The State of U.S. Infrastructure
The U.S. Congress has approved the largest federal investment in infrastructure in decades. Here’s why infrastructure matters for U.S. economic competitiveness. 
Japan
The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance
The alliance with Japan has been the cornerstone of U.S. security policy in East Asia for decades. Now, Japan’s role in global security is growing as challenges from China and North Korea mount.
COVID-19
Will the World Ever Solve the Mystery of COVID-19’s Origin?
It is crucial to learn the facts about how COVID-19 emerged to prevent future outbreaks. But China is rebuffing calls for further investigations focusing on Wuhan.
Lebanon
What Is Hezbollah?
Military experience gained from fighting in Syria’s civil war and decades of clashes with Israel have made the Iran-backed group stronger than ever, but the biggest threat it faces may be upheaval in its own backyard.
United States
Corporate Taxes in a Globalized World
A group of more than one hundred countries has agreed to a historic rewrite of global tax rules. Here’s what to know.
Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
The swift development of effective vaccines against the new coronavirus was an unprecedented scientific achievement. But production challenges, vaccine nationalism, and new virus strains have all presented hurdles.
Trade
The Truth About Tariffs
Tariffs have been applied over the years to protect homegrown industries and target competitors who are seen as using unfair trade practices. They impose costs on both importers and exporters and had been in decline until the recent U.S.-China trade spat.
Peacekeeping
The Role of Peacekeeping in Africa
Africa continues to have more peacekeeping missions than any other continent. As conflict-stricken countries increasingly look outside the United Nations for support, experts say reforms are necessary to improve peacebuilding.
International Organizations
The Role of the UN Secretary-General
The United Nations’ top leadership position has broad authority to steer the organization’s agenda, but its impact has varied widely since 1946.