The Council of Councils (CoC) Report Card on International Cooperation evaluates multilateral efforts to address ten of the world’s most pressing global challenges, from countering transnational terrorism to advancing global health. No country can confront these issues better on its own. Combating the threats, managing the risks, and exploiting the opportunities presented by globalization require international cooperation.
Chen Dongxiao, Richard N. Haass, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, and Carlos Ivan Simonsen Leal discuss the mounting challenges to international cooperation today, and launch the Council of Councils (CoC) Report Card on International Cooperation. This Report Card surveyed the Council of Councils, a CFR initiative connecting leading foreign policy institutes from twenty-five countries around the world, to provide a benchmark measure of international cooperation year after year, and to help policymakers identify opportunities for breakthrough and prioritize today’s critical issues. The event will present the findings of the 2016–2017 Report Card and discuss implications for global cooperation.
PATRICK: Good morning, and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations, where today we’re launching the third edition of the Council of Councils Report Card on International Cooperation.
I’m Stewart Patrick, the James H. Binger Senior Fellow and Director in International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations.
In a few minutes I’m going to be turning over the microphone to Missy Ryan, who is going to engage the four of the heads of this global think-tank network in the—in a discussion about the path forward and what it means for the state of international cooperation. Before the main event, though, I wanted to give you some background on the COC report card, as well as the Council of Councils.
Created in 2012, the Council of Councils brings together 29 of the world’s most promising and prominent policy institutes to discuss and seek multilateral policy solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. I’m pleased to announce that this year the COC has actually increased its membership by three, one of whose leaders—Yoichi Kato of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation—is here with us this morning.
The COC’s composition is roughly equivalent in terms of its national representation to the Group of 20, and its rationale is basically similar. What we’re trying to do with this group is to bridge gaps between established and emerging powers in trying to deal with the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. And, frankly, the task has never been more relevant than it is today. We’ve just had one of the most turbulent years in world politics in recent memory, and many of the pillars of the old order appear to be crumbling.
Last year’s Report Card, I have to say, brimmed with optimism—a little too much optimism, in the view of our fearless leader, Richard Haass, who accused us of inflating grades. This year, not so much. We don’t really have to worry about that grade inflation problem.
The surprise election of Donald Trump here in the United States, as well as the British decision to leave the European Union, pose potentially—and I want to underscore “potentially”—profound challenges to the multilateral system as we have known it. At a minimum, they have injected a certain amount of uncertainty about the future of the liberal order, to say nothing of U.S. leadership within it.
Around the world, meanwhile, we’ve seen a surge of nationalism—obviously somewhat blunted in the case of France’s recent election, and yet Marine Le Pen, of course, garnering fully a third of the support of the French electorate. But this surge of nationalism is driven at least in part by skepticism of international arrangements, which are often seen as constraining, as unaccountable, and most damning of all, and of concern to all of us I think, ineffective.
Yet, at the same time, the challenges that the world faces increasingly do not respect national borders. Consider global pandemics, transnational terrorism, financial shocks, and nuclear proliferation, to name just a few: these are problems that defy national solutions.
Meanwhile, after a couple of decades of relative decline at the end of the Cold War, we’ve seen a rise in both the number and intensity of international conflicts around the world, many, of course, internal conflicts. And this spike in conflict has driven an estimated 65 million people from their homes around the world, which is a record, certainly since the end of the Second World War.
To respond to these challenges—and actually not just in terms of framing this in terms of risk, but actually to make use of the opportunities of globalization, which are many—we need creative global and regional approaches to cooperation that ensure not only that these risks are dealt with, but that the benefits are more broadly shared so that some of this nationalist/populist reaction can be blunted and, frankly, addressed in productive ways. So the challenge that policymakers face today is to at once respond to domestic demands, without ignoring the risks of transnational threats and the opportunities created for cooperation.
Now, the purpose of our Report Card is to show where cooperation is lagging, and also in a few cases where it’s working. We asked the heads of COC member institutions to assess global cooperation on 10 different issue areas, and these critical challenges are up on the slide. They include preventing nuclear proliferation, managing the global economy, mitigating and adapting to climate change, advancing global development, promoting global health, expanding global trade, managing cyber governance, combating transnational terrorism, and preventing and responding to violent conflict, both among states and within them.
In each case, we asked the think-tank heads to do three things. First, we asked them to grade international cooperation during 2016, both overall and within each individual area. Second, we asked them to rank these challenges in terms of their relative importance for the global system. And, third, we asked them to assess opportunities for breakthrough during the current year, 2017.
So what did we find? Overall, what we found was pretty ugly. The COC awarded global efforts a C-minus, which is barely passing and more than a full letter grade than what we assessed the previous year. In a word, the COC is pessimistic about the state of international cooperation.
And this feeling is consistent across Report Card subject areas. On only one issue—and that was combating transnational terrorism—did we register any gains from the previous year. Once again, the Report Card gives highest marks to mitigating and adapting to climate change. The lower-performing areas are probably no surprise to this group. They include poor grades for preventing and responding to violent conflict between states, as well as to internal violent conflict. The network, in additional, also finds cyber governance and global trade efforts to be inadequate. And, again, this is no surprise, given cyber hacking of the U.S. election and the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or at least apparent demise.
So, in terms of relative importance, for the first time the COC identifies violent—for the third time, excuse me, the COC identifies violent conflict between states, transnational terrorism, and internal violent conflict as the highest priorities that the world needs to attend to during 2017. North Korea’s nuclear program continued unchecked in 2016, prompting the Council of Councils to rank preventing nuclear proliferation as fourth in importance, and obviously in the back of the minds of many of the think-tank leaders was the need to keep the JCPOA on track with respect to Iran.
What about opportunities for breakthrough? The COC identifies combating transnational terrorism, notwithstanding its relatively poor grade, as one of the areas most likely for breakthrough in 2017, perhaps anticipating greater cooperation between the United States and Russia. But it expects little improvements in other high-priority areas, namely violent conflict and nuclear proliferation. Trade stands out as the area where the network anticipates the least amount of progress, and that undoubtedly being a reflection at least in large part of the Trump administration’s at least rhetorical embrace of protectionism and the salience of anti-globalization forces, populist forces, around the world.
I’m coming to the end of my allotted time, but I do want to point out that the interactive version of this Report Card contains many compelling features that you can get if you go to the website, and I’ll just mention a couple of these. Each issue description includes a section that we call “by the numbers,” with some revealing statistics, such as numbers of people who are refugees at any given time. It also includes more in-depth analysis to place grades and rankings into context. We also have an interactive map that displays the comments from the heads of COC institutes, and you can filter these by country.
So we encourage you to explore the Report Card and let us know what you think. It remains a work in progress. We tweak it in response to, obviously, the concerns and comments of our membership, but also with those of the broader community of users.
Finally, I want to thank three wonderful colleagues who, frankly, did the lion’s share of work in putting this report card together.
One of them is Megan Roberts, who’s my talented associate director and is hiding behind the wall so I can’t see her. She took the lead, frankly, in drafting and producing the report card.
Another is Terry Mullan, who has the job on a day-to-day basis of herding the COC’s 29 cats. So if you could indicate—there you are.
And then, finally, Theresa Lou, who provided outstanding all-around support for the International Institutions and Global Governance Program.
So if you would join me in giving them a hand, I’d appreciate it. (Applause.)
And now it’s my great privilege to introduce Missy Ryan, who, in addition to being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is the Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post. Missy will introduce the other four panelists, and she’s going to lead them in a discussion about the findings of the Report Card, and what it says about the state or and prospects for international cooperation today and in the coming years.
So thank you very much. I look forward to listening to the discussion.
RYAN: Welcome. My name is Missy Ryan. As Stewart said, I’m a reporter with The Washington Post, and it’s my great privilege to be here today to take part in the Council on Councils event here at the Council on Foreign Relations.
And I’m honored to be here with such a distinguished panel of guests, representing some of the world’s most important institutions on foreign affairs and all of the issues that we lay awake at night worrying about. And I’m just going to briefly introduce the guests here, and I may need some help with pronunciation of people’s names.
To my right I have Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. And then, next to him, Dr. Chen—and how do I pronounce your name, your last name?
RYAN: Great. The president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
CHEN: Maybe call me Chen X-something. (Laughter.)
RYAN: OK. (Laughs.) Great.
And then we have Elizabeth. And your last name is pronounced?
RYAN: Great. (Laughter.) The chief executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs.
And finally, last but not least, we have Carlos. And your—can you pronounce your last name for me?
SIMONSEN LEAL: Simonsen Leal.
RYAN: OK, great. (Laughter.) The president of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil.
And so we’re going to take about half an hour to have a moderated discussion up here on the stage, and after that we’re going to open it up for questions and answers with the audience.
And I think I want to start the discussion today by asking a sort of provocative question, and that is—and any of the panelists can answer, please, as you would like to do so. The premise of this Report Card and the Council on Councils generally is that countries need to collaborate to face global challenges. But is this a still—is this still a relevant idea in an era of rising nationalism?
HAASS: Well, it is a relevant idea. Almost by definition, global challenges require collaborative or collective responses. Unilateralism is not a serious option. So the relevance is not an issue.
What is at issue is the likelihood or the promise of it all. And I think what people found is, looking backwards, the reality was, shall we say, disappointing if you had any expectations. I think what it does more than anything else is it gives lie to one of the big ideas in this field, which is that there’s something called an international community. And in most instances, there’s very little international community. That’s a depressing conclusion, and it’s a depressing prospect if it holds.
So the answer to your question, Missy, sure it’s relevant. The question is, is there, though, more than anything else, the will—to some extent, capacity, but more than anything else the will—to make it happen across these 10 or so issue areas. And I would simply say I hope there’s some will, because if there’s not the Report Card is going to get worse in future years and the consequences will grow.
So relevance, sure. Prospects, alas, less clear.
RYAN: Anyone else?
SIDIROPOULOS: Yeah. I couldn’t agree—I couldn’t agree more, but I think that the challenge that that raises in the face of declining commitment to international cooperation or willingness to cooperate internationally is really voices who actually see and recognize the importance of international cooperation for dealing with a whole host of challenges that we face, both nationally and internationally, is to actually make that connection and make that more—articulate that more clearly, I think, to the broader group of people than we probably have in the past. And this is a question, really, around how think tanks also, and similar institutions, engage on some of these issues and help to advance, and help to, I think, nuance the debate, but in a way that also connects with people. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learnt in the last couple of years is that, you know, we—sometimes we talk up here and we need to be able to connect with people.
RYAN: So you think it’s a messaging problem more than anything?
SIDIROPOULOS: No, it’s not only a messaging problem, but I think that’s part of—it’s part of it. The fact is that you cannot deal with climate change as the U.S. or as South Africa or as China, and a whole host of other issues as well. And so how do you make that argument clear? And how do you address some of the downsides of it, of some of these initiatives which create winners and losers?
RYAN: All right.
CHEN: Yeah, obviously it is, well, even more relevant today than before that we should work together in responding—in addressing directly of those transnational and those challenges, security threats, out of those more interdependent, but at the same time that all of the states will feel much more vulnerable to those threats or challenge if we cannot work together. The challenge here—I fully agree with Elizabeth’s points, but also I would add that the challenge here is how to strike a good balance of the cost as well as the benefit that each country, or those people living within each country, they feel about how much they should spend on those public goods or work together against those public bads.
RYAN: Well, let’s turn to the Report Card, which Stewart briefed us on. And, as he said, it’s a rather gloomy prognosis for how we’re doing on international cooperation. The question, again for the panel: What surprises you in the results, if anything, that you saw this year in terms of the grades, in terms of the ranking of the global issues? What jumped out at you?
SIMONSEN LEAL: Well, the amazing thing, I think, is that I wasn’t surprised at all. The situation is not wonderful, let me say it like that.
And I think, going back to the previous question, the problem is not nationalism. It’s nationalism plus enhanced by populism. And this populism is being provoked, especially in the West, by a shift of wealth between the middle class of the West and the middle class of the East. And it has to do with productivity, it has to do with relative rhythm of innovation, and at the end it has to do with public finances.
RYAN: OK. Well—
HAASS: Can I just say, the one thing that I wouldn’t have predicted a few years ago, but it’s totally consistent, is that something like global trade would be so bad. This is one of the foundation stones of the post-World War II order, and you had all sorts of major regional negotiations in play, and you came to the—you had TPP where it was. And suddenly global trade is getting a D-plus. And that is just something that a couple of years ago, even though trade was to some extent on the defensive, you had people—you had TPP, you had prospects about a transatlantic trading agreement, you had various bilateral agreements taking place between the United States and certain countries, and suddenly we’ve gone from where we were, either the reality of the promise of trade expansion, to where now I guess you’d almost call it trade shrinkage, at least in the agreement sense even if the actual numbers are not going down. And that, to me, is—it’s not something five years ago I would have—I would have seen coming.
RYAN: And that’s something that I think we’ve really seen a break between the Global North and the Global South, in terms of attitudes towards trade.
HAASS: Well, actually, no, I don’t think it’s North-South. I think it’s North-North, and I think a lot has to do with us. I mean, what I didn’t predict is the United States had been the champion of global trade for, what, 70 years, and suddenly we have become the un-champion. And we’re—I think we’ll pay an enormous economic and strategic price as a result. But the old divides—I mean, the WTO failure, the Doha Round, that had lots of reasons. I think that kind of difficulty was predictable simply because there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. And that kind of global agreement, where too many entities, if you will, have blocking power, that was predictable to me. But the breakdown of smaller agreements was less predictable, and more than anything else the loss of enthusiasm on the part of the United States.
And it just—you know, the—a world in which the United States is not leading trade negotiations will be a world that there’s fewer negotiations that are completed. And the quality of those agreements, I believe, will deteriorate.
RYAN: OK. Well, this question is for Carlos and Elizabeth. I’m interested in if you could tell us how the perspective from the Global South differs on international cooperation or any of these issues when you’re talking about how the developing world sees, you know, some of the issues that have been singled out, or just this concept of the importance of cooperating across governments and across countries.
SIDIROPOULOS: I think the first—the first point to make is that, while on the issue of trade I think the divisions are a little bit more complex than simply Global South and Global North, I think it does raise—what we’ve seen in the last—in the last year or so raises interesting questions about how we actually get the WTO, as a global trading framework and rules-making body, to really pick up steam again. From a southern—one dimension of—one perspective from the south, clearly when the mega-regionals, the TPP or the TTIP, were being negotiated, the one key—one of the key concerns was the creation of rules that countries that were not part of these agreements would end up having to abide by in terms of standards, regulations, et cetera, et cetera, and they had not been part of the—of the process of actually negotiating them; and so, you know, in effect, creating a two-tier system where you have plurilaterals creating rules and norms, and the rest of us simply have to abide by them. So that—so in some ways, ironically, I think there are certain sections in countries in the developing world that say, well, actually, you know, maybe this is a good thing in terms of creating—in terms of us participating in those processes.
I think the other dimension is clearly that, you know, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I think the U.S., as a leader on a range of issues in international cooperation, is often maligned. But at the same time, when it’s not present, it’s criticized for that. And I think we’re going to start seeing some of that play out from issues of peace and security, right across to economics and trade.
SIMONSEN LEAL: Of course, we think that cooperation is mandatory—should be mandatory, at least we feel that in our hearts, and that multilateral agreements are better than unilateral or bilateral agreements. But we also have to be on the real world.
Fifteen, 20 years ago, it was a theme of deep discussion in Brazil whether we should enter ALCA or not, and we didn’t do. We didn’t enter ALCA. We preferred to be set apart and not participate in this enhanced NAFTA agreement. And the discussion there was not a lack of belief in the United States. The discussion is there are some things that cannot be promised in the long run because their underlying assumptions will change. This is the fault of no one, but they will change. And for a country the size of Brazil, it is important to have a certain degree of maneuverability.
So, for 15 years, we have listened from the Mexicans, oh, how fools you were not to enter the agreement. And nowadays, we don’t say anything. I know that there are some Mexicans present. But we are very happy not to have entered the agreement because we would have linked our development to a model that has become outdated.
SIDIROPOULOS: There’s just one other point in terms of leadership. And that is, you know, we’re talking about other countries moving up and stepping up to the plate, and I think that’s very important, whether it’s China or other emerging economies. But I think the point is, on a lot of these issues on international cooperation, you actually do need the big players to be moving in the same direction.
RYAN: So just to get back to the point, Carlos, that you were making, are you saying that sort of this initial enthusiasm is now fading and things are adjusting to where they should be?
SIMONSEN LEAL: Now, what I say is the following: Democracies, since Athens, have a conundrum to solve. Either they invest in Medicare, Medicaid or they invest in the Navy. That was voted in Athens every year. And they always—I’m simplifying the discussion of course—they were always voting for social measures. But one day the Athenian fleet was so weak that they decided to take a risk and invade Syracuse. Not the Persians. And they lost again, but they lost their empire. It tends on the nature of things, because of the cycles of democracies, that you tend to look more at short-term things. So, if you want to make agreements, you should rely on things that are immutable, that are not going to change. Your geopolitical positions are very important.
Brazil has the same geopolitical positions that the U.S. has in any issues. But in some economic issues we have different. We have competitors, for example, in agriculture. That’s a part of life. We can have transitory agreements, but they will have to change as there is an evolution. On other things, agreements can be reached for very, very long periods of time. It’s on the nature of things that things are like that. And what we see how, I insist, on that point is I think there was a fallacy that was sold to everyone, it is the increase of productivity. The increase of productivity in the U.S., especially. Part of it was due to outsourcing, where you have log aggregated value and focusing on high aggregated value. But that, of course, tends to limit the possibility of increase of income of a low middle class. And the low middle class is the bulk, is the support of any democracy. So that’s what is moving in Europe and the U.S.
RYAN: Which is one of the issues you mentioned in regards to populist nationalism. Well, I’d like to actually—speaking of migration of jobs, I’d like to turn to the global economy. And, Dr. Chen, maybe you can address this, coming from a Chinese perspective, representing one of the world’s largest economies. I mean, is this a situation where there is going to be a division between the countries that are rapidly developing with high growth rates, and the sort of older, more stagnant economies, like we’ve seen in Europe, just sort of deteriorating and struggling to keep up?
CHEN: Well, yes, you’re right that now in the past few years we have seen a relatively—quite a stagnant growth, particularly on what we call a core part of those capitalist country traditions, the Western countries—United States and European Union as a whole, et cetera. At the same time, we have seen quite a fast catching up by those developing, and particularly those rising economies like China and India and some others. And therefore, in terms of those global economy or economic globalization, we have seen that those so-called dual effect—distribution effect vis-à-vis those—a wealth effect.
The relationship has somewhat tilted, that we have seen that the—while we have seen a slowing growth or expansion of those economic cake, while we have seen more and more people—governments included—that were concerned about the distribution. And they have to concern about distribution across borders. But at the same time, they are more concerned about the distribution of those benefit within their own territories. So I think that partially can refer to the rising economic nationalism and rising populism, because they have to deal with that. And as long as we have continuously and relatively a stagnant growth, a fragile recovery of global economy, we’re still—I’m still quite concerned about this so-called distribution effect will continue overwhelming shaping agenda of global economic governance.
HAASS: I’m actually not. This will be the first year that Christine Lagarde will be able to stand up and say our numbers are going up, and they don’t have to adjust them down. So you know, the global economy is clearly in a different position going forward. I don’t find inequality across borders a particularly significant issue. I think the issue is more inequality within borders and even more the reality of opportunity within borders. And I think that will be there, the big issues. And I think it’s going to increasingly affect developed and developing economies alike.
Technology doesn’t discriminate. Robotics cross borders. Artificial intelligence crosses borders. Autonomous vehicles will cross borders. So regardless of the economic base, economies around the world are going to be facing these challenges. And I think they’re going to create enormous social tensions within countries. But I think that will be the big issue going forward. And then that might have international consequence. I think as we’ve seen over the last year, when you have issues like prolonged unemployment and the like, how does one avoid the adoption of policies against immigration, against trade, which essentially scapegoat them for really the results of technological innovation? And I think that’s much more the challenge that we’re going to be talking about in future years.
RYAN: Just to follow up, Richard, how do you address that intrastate economic inequality if that’s one of the drivers of the resistance—
HAASS: Intra or inter?
HAASS: Well, again, I don’t think inequality, per se, is the issue. I think it’s a lack of mobility. I think inequality is more a result than the cause of the social issues. But we’re actually going to launch a new taskforce on it here at the Council on Foreign Relations. But it’s going to deal with issues of training, education, temporary financial assistance, so-called wage insurance. I think corporate profit repatriation could be part of the answer. I think infrastructure could be part of the answer.
But more than anything else, I think that we’ll—because new jobs will emerge as jobs get eliminated. The problem’s going to be the mismatch between the skills requirement of the jobs that emerge and the workforce. And we can’t do a lot about the skill requirements of the jobs that emerge. So what we’ve got to do is improve the skills base of the workforce, so basically prepare our citizens so they’re in a position to take those jobs. And I think that will be the big challenge for this society and for every society represented here and every other society around the world, is how, given the inexorable march of technology, we can create human capital that’s in a position to contend with it.
CHEN: Yeah, Richard, I agree with you on the point that nowadays we should be more concerned with those in politic within rather than across. But at the same time, I think that’s all contingent—this prospect of a continuing—see a transparent, a globalized economy. Whether we will continue to live in the similar or predictable governance order or world economy, that all depends upon whether in the next few years that we will see more protectionism or not. So if there’s more protectionism, nationalism, economic nationalism, I think that those emerging economy, including those catching up economies, they will feel a very, very—you know, a headwind in front of them.
So I think that this is the reason. On one side, we are quite happy about those grand convergence, which means the narrowing gap between those developed and the developing economy in the global GDP distribution—or wealth distribution. But at the same time, we are not—we are not—should not be too optimistic in the long term if those rising nationalism—economic nationalism or protectionism is really on the rise and, you know, just rock the boat of those international economic order.
RYAN: Well, I’d like to actually jump to the outlook for the future. We have only about 10 minutes before we’re going to open it up for questions from the audience. And I have a couple of questions about the prognosis for some of these global issues ahead. And this is obviously something that the Report Card looks at, and I’d like to delve a little bit more deeply, starting with the issue of development. And what I’m interested to learn from any of the panelists is: Do you believe that foreign aid and this sort of populist nationalism, economic nationalism, can be compatible? What is the argument for foreign assistance and for supporting development in countries that are struggling with their own challenges and where you have—you know, we’ve seen in this country an “America first” movement, and steps to potentially reduce the foreign aid budget. Reactions.
HAASS: Well, as an American, I should probably say something about the—well, because I think you raise what’s the 800-pound gorilla, which is the relationship between “America first” and everything that’s implicit and explicit in this Report Card. And the question is how you in any way combine the two—to make the two compatible, because American global leadership has not been based, over the last 70 years, on a concept of “America first.” It’s been more America with, rather than something sequential. So I think I just posit that as a major question mark.
Look, foreign aid—there’s elements of foreign aid that are—but it’s actually modest elements of foreign aid that are there as a—simply to, how do I put it, quote/unquote, “help others.” Almost all aspects of foreign aid, though, are much more focused than that—whether it’s security relationship that helps American national security directly. It can help countries deal with things like infectious disease outbreaks, which in turn helps us. If they don’t have the capacities, we will pay a price. It can help countries slow or stop deforestation. It can help them deal with adaptation to climate change. Something like the Millennium Challenge Corporation can encourage good government and higher levels of economic growth.
I mean, Americans have two major misunderstandings about foreign aid. One is they think there’s tons of it, when in fact there isn’t. And the other is they think most of it’s a kind of give away. It’s do-goodism for others, when in a sense a lot of it is do-goodism for ourselves—that a lot of foreign aid brings about or encourages trends in the world that are actually—they buttress American national interest. And the budget that went forward to the State Department and—I mean, from the State—from the administration to the Congress cuts a lot of it. The good news is it’s dead on arrival. And even in the legislation that was passed the other day to keep the government open, a lot of this got restored, got protected. The administration didn’t get its wish.
And my guess is that the administration positions on foreign aid will in no way be sustained, and the foreign aid budget will look a lot more like it has looked in recent years, rather than something that is decimated or even close to that.
SIDIROPOULOS: Yeah. I think a couple more points. The point around foreign aid as an instrument of national interest I think can’t be understated. And I think that has, in fact, accelerated—not just talking about the U.S., but I think across the OECD states. I think the shifts in priorities among a number of OECD countries on their aid budget has been much more clearer, sort of national interest approach to where money goes and for what purpose. And some of it might be to boost national security. Others might be to advance economic interests and so on and so forth. And I think that has become much more apparent.
The second dimension, of course, is the big—another 800-pound gorilla, which is to what extent to foreign aid actually—has it really helped over so many years? And I think that’s a very mixed picture. And one shouldn’t say it’s either—it’s either or. The third point is that increasingly foreign aid budgets are going to be under tremendous—and are already under tremendous pressure. And so the—you know, the global community is now branching out in terms of diversifying financing for development. And so you see a focus on a much stronger role for the private sector in some of these initiatives, working together—using public finance to leverage private funds in particular projects. I don’t think necessarily that’s a bad thing. I think it’s good. But one has to be very careful about the use of public finance for commercial companies doing certain things, and the tradeoffs around that.
Lastly, of course, and I think very importantly, the lives of emerging donors in the development—in the development landscape. You know, they’ve taken, I think, really—talking about China or in a much smaller way South Africa or India—I think they take a different approach in terms of the kinds of activities they undertake in other developing economies. But that certainly is a new financing tool which shouldn’t—which shouldn’t be underestimated.
Lastly, and this really relates to the Report Card, interestingly, you know, dealing with development across the world has to be a fundamental priority if we’re going to be—if we’re thinking about the migration flows to the north of people looking for jobs. The, you know, high unemployment rates, high sort of political instability that forces people—whether you’re talking about them, and particularly in Africa, or in the Middle East—sort of going to countries where they think they can find—they can find better opportunities. And so ways of tackling both peace and security dimensions, as well as economic and governance conditions in developing economies is something that isn’t going to go away.
RYAN: OK. Just a couple more questions. One of the issues that was singled out as a—as being an opportunity for breakthrough moving forward was confronting terrorism. And I personally was surprised to see that as one of the issues, given the low grades that were given to the violent conflict between states and internal violent conflict. And so I just wanted to see if I could get a comment from anyone on the panel about, you know, why we can be confident about terrorism being confronted in an effective way while these other problems seem to fester.
HAASS: Well, in 2017 looking forward, I think it’s highly likely that ISIS loses any territorial control in Iraq, and it may well lose its territorial control in Syria in Raqqa. So I think more than anything else it reflects that. Plus, there is a degree—it’s one of the few issues—at least there’s a limited degree of consensus even among the United States, Russia, China and other countries about doing something about it. It’s one of the areas where there’s a greater degree of acceptance, the idea that countries shouldn’t harbor terrorists, that terrorism is something of a common thread. So it actually doesn’t surprise me.
The problem will be after the defeat of ISIS, in the territorial sense, in Mosul and Raqqa, what then? And I think that’s a legitimate question mark, because it isn’t going away. And none of the other groups are going away. And in certain places—indeed, this morning we were talking about Afghanistan’s in the news. That’s a place it may actually—the situation could grow worse, both from ISIS as well as from the Taliban. But I think in the narrow sense, particularly of ISIS, they will—they will probably—they’ll certainly lose control of Mosul and they may well lose control of Raqqa by the end of the year.
RYAN: OK. And one last question for the panel. Cyber governance is one of the global issues that did not get a good score in the Report Card, a C-minus. And I’m just wondering, for the panelists, how do you see—this is an issue that, as Stewart said, really has grabbed headlines in 2016 and 2017 so far. Is it realistic to expect global cooperation on this issue, given the national interest in using cyber tools as a—as a military and espionage function?
SIMONSEN LEAL: There will be collaboration and there will be competition. It’s in the nature of things. Nothing more than that, nothing less.
RYAN: So the key will be finding the areas or the cooperation?
SIMONSEN LEAL: Yeah, there will be a lot of collaboration. Collaboration will not be steady. It will fluctuate. And there will be a lot of competition. Everyone is going to look for means to attack the others. But also, they will be looking for means to compromise.
CHEN: Yeah. I also believe that it’s fundamental for all those key players—the U.S., China included—to accelerate their common standing of those norms building, how to govern the cyberspace, including the security governance, and particularly to avoid those miscalculation or misperception of each other, and to avoid those unintentional, let’s say, cyberattack, or those unintentional attack on those critical infrastructure juncture, for instance. I think that’s all important for all of us, because that refers to the stability of those cyberspace.
HAASS: I’m a little bit more negative on that. I think that Russia, North Korea, Iran and others—this is an important instrument of national power. And I think the gap between the technology and the rules that Dr. Chen was just alluding to, is large is some areas, may well grow. There simply isn’t the consensus on what ought to be the norms for cyberspace in the end. And should there be an open, global internet? Or should—to what extent should governments be able to insert themselves to stop the flow of information. How do you deal with data and privacy? To what extent can it be weaponized, this space? What’s legitimate in peacetime? What should only take place in wartime?
And I think there’s splits within the United States, between the corporate sector and government, individuals, between the United States and Europe over privacy and data issues, obviously, Russia and other countries are using it certain ways. The United States and China have an agreement about intellectual property protection. We’ll see how well it’s honored. So there’s—I think there’s just—it’s just enormous issues. This is an area where global governance is trying to catch up with technological emergence. And I just think it’s early days still. And this is an enormous problem that’s far more complicated than the challenge 60-70 years ago, where arms control had to catch up with the emergence of nuclear weapons. This is actually intellectually far more difficult for the world to contend with.
SIMONSEN LEAL: And there is an extra problem, which is that whatever regulation you make, you assume a certain cost structure to bypass it. The problem with this area of knowledge is that costs are always going down. So you make an agreement today. You imagine that you are going to be able to prevent—and someone finds a way to bypass it at a lower cost. So this is a continuous fight. It’s not stable.
RYAN: OK. Well, listen, I want to open it up to the audience. I’m sure that there are a lot of questions out there. Before we open it up, I’d just like to remind everyone that his meeting is on the record. And there are microphones in the back. And if you do have a question, please identify yourself, your affiliation, and make sure that your question is a question.
So I think the gentleman over there.
Q: Thank you. Jack Goldstone, George Mason University.
This is a question about the list of global challenges. I was disturbed to see there’s no mention of human rights or good governance among the list of challenges. This is striking to me, since fighting corruption has been central to legitimacy of government in Brazil, South Africa, and China in recent years. And we have new challenges in the U.S. in dealing with conflict of interest. But it bothers me that things like the attack on press freedom and academic freedom in Turkey, just as one example, would not be mentioned here. So my question for all of you is do you think dealing with corruption, good governance, and human rights is a global challenge—at least equivalent to issues of global health or trade in terms of quality of life for people around the world?
HAASS: I would answer that I think it’s more of a national challenge with global consequences, Jack. So I don’t think there’s a global answer to what recently has taken place—say, the setbacks in Turkey or what’s going on in the Philippines. But any of those situations, or the breakdown of democracy or anything close to it, human rights, will have implications. But I don’t know how to approach those things globally. So I think what we try to do is deal with issues more here, and Stewart may want to add to that, but we don’t think it was—we didn’t think it made sense to principally address those issues through the lens of global action, though obviously everything you point to is incredibly significant. It’s not an argument about that, it was just—it’s really more a question of framing and how to approach it as a policy instrument. Is that fair?
Q: Yeah. I would say so. We considered, Jack—well, obviously, we considered it a huge—a huge issue. But as Richard suggested, you know, there are international instruments, U.N. convention against corruption. There are OECD conventions against bribery. There are a number of multilateral efforts that one could turn to here. But I think that we really wanted to take the starting point of looking at transnational and global issues that, in a sense, span borders in a—in a more direct way, as opposed to ones that are simply national issues that have, of course, international implications.
HAASS: But just to be clear, I think corruption is a legitimate one to add to this. And I take your point on that. I think that one fits more clearly. And that’s one we might add in future years.
RYAN: I think Carlos wanted to talk—
SIMONSEN LEAL: I would like to point out one amazing thing is international collaboration in the Brazilian cases of corruption. It has been wonderful. It has helped a lot. Part of that is due to an evolution of law around the world, in the U.S. and France, everywhere. But also to a belief, a common belief amongst judges, attorneys, et cetera, that it’s important to fight corruption everywhere. That’s not good. If you are involved, it’s polluting yourself too. Even if a crime was made in Brazil not in the U.S., it is important to fight that. So that is a good thing. That is a good—a really good thing, because it has helped eliminate the situation where you have a fiscal paradise where you can do everything that you want, and then you cannot be caught, which was the case in the past.
CHEN: Yeah, the corruption will damage the economy—the national economy. And the corruption will also damage the confidence in the economic cooperation between and among the states, governments included. So I think that it is also a priority for Beijing, for China, to work together with all of the international community, including with the U.S. The latest—the progress we achieved between two sides is we set up enforcement and the cybersecurity high-ranking dialogue. And I think that the primary concern from Chinese side is that the Washington and Beijing could continue to work together to handle, to crack down of those corrupted officials who, for one reason or another, now stay in the United States.
RYAN: OK. Let’s move onto the next question. The woman in the black right there.
Q: Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Georgetown University.
It’s notable that the two areas on conflict both received the worst performance grades, the highest level of importance, and the lowest opportunity for breakthrough. I wonder if you see any glimmers of hope of either individual countries or organizations or groups of influence of individuals who are seeking to lead in this area, or whether we just are sort of dooming conflict and those people who are impacted by it for a few years, that there’s no a lot of hope in moving forward.
RYAN: Anyone want to take that?
HAASS: Liz, why don’t you take some African conflict? You’re so upbeat on—(laughter)—
SIDIROPOULOS: My personal perspective on this is actually quite bleak, certainly in the short term. Not only on a number of African conflicts, but I think some of the ones that are much more prominent in the headlines also, in the Middle East. If I were to look, for example, at some of the challenges we face on the continent, whether you talk about Libya and what is happening across the Sahel, whether indeed you’re looking at Nigeria and Boko Haram there—notwithstanding, I think, some progress that has been made—or, indeed, whether you’re looking at countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where, you know, South Africa in particular has been heavily invested in the peace process for a number of years. And I suppose if I was being asked this question a few years ago, I would say that has been one of the great success stories of South African engagement, to move the process and create a framework.
But a few years later, and that actually is exactly the point about many of these conflicts, we’re in a situation where it’s highly precarious, where I think a lot of the gains that have been made over the last 10 years now nearly, since the first election in 2006, are really hanging in the balance. There was no election last year. It’s been pushed off the—you know, to 2018. The processes of dialogue are not really making much progress. And some of these problems are far too complex and difficult for international efforts in the short term to actually bring to a resolution.
And of course, what has happened there in the aftermath of Libya, now moving up to the north of the Libyan intervention in 2011, has really created—had a set of consequences that I think few people actually expected at the time. And these—you know, these are non-state actors, and state actors, and paramilitaries, and whatever that—are just making it such a complex set of issues to address, with competing external interests as well. And so it’s just dire.
CHEN: Well, in terms of the ranking opportunities for breakthrough, I just find that the nuclear proliferation issues has been relatively lower, which indicate that we are not so optimistic about those breakthrough, for instance, on North Korean nuclear development. But at the same time, I think that as Chinese phrase the word about opportunity and the crisis, they are—sometimes they are interchangeable. I think that if we can, by a very good concert of effort among all those key players—U.S., China, Russia, Japan, or so, and other—we can work together, and to give a synchronized and also much more complementary action together to press North Korea on the table of disarming its nuclear program. That will be a great opportunity.
And I’m afraid that will be the last good opportunity for all those players to work together. Otherwise, even if we kick the can down the road this time, I think that those frequency and even explosive crisis next time, which will be much more uncontrollable. So I really believe that we should regard nowadays the tensions on North Korean issues or the Korean Peninsula nuclear weapons as kind of an opportunity. But it all depends upon the strategic choice among the actors.
HAASS: You may well be right. And I hope you are. If you look at the top challenges, you know, the first one is violent conflict between states and the third is internal violent conflict. I mean, think about it. You have Venezuela in this hemisphere, which is essentially an internal violent conflict already, could very easily grow worse. The Middle East, there’s more conflicts internal and proxy than you can shake a stick at. And I think Yemen has all the potential to get worse. And I think the possibility of direct Iranian conflict cannot be precluded. We haven’t talked about India-Pakistan, but I don’t think you have to have a wildly creative imagination to see violent conflict between those two countries if there’s a terrorist incident that emanates from Pakistan.
In Europe, you still have the continuing conflict going on in Ukraine. And I don’t see Russian behavior in Eastern Ukraine, shall we say, improving. And then North Korea’s an opportunity, but North Korea could also be the site of conflict, quite honestly, if the diplomacy doesn’t work and North Korea continues to march towards a threshold of being able to put nuclear warheads on missiles that can reach the continental United States. I don’t think anyone could rule out the possibility of the American use of military force. So, when you look at the world in 2017, yeah, I think there’s pretty good reason that—and Elizabeth mentioned the internal things in places like South Sudan, the DRC and so forth. So the combination of interstate and intrastate conflict—I think the examples are way too numerous for comfort in 2017. It’s stacking up of what could be an extraordinarily violent year.
RYAN: OK, there’s a gentleman right here in the front.
Q: Thank you. Michael Fullilove from the Lowy Institute.
First of all, I’m from the Lowy Institute. One of the members of Council of Councils. And let me first of all record my appreciation to Richard for inviting the think tank leaders here to Washington. It’s been a very important meeting. And I want to thank Stewart and his team for putting together really a sharp document here. And it’s great that we’re having a discussion and an argument about individual rankings. And that’s exactly the purpose of this document. So thank you for that.
I was one of the respondents to this. And I see my—certainly I recognize my own sense of pessimism in those rankings, and probably mine were pretty close to the averages. Of course, we answered those questions almost at the height of a perfect storm, shortly after President Trump who, at least based on the last couple of decades, has revealed himself to be an unbeliever in the global liberal order, was elected. A few months after the Brits decided to vote against their own interests and leave a union that has really brought peace to Europe. A few months after Mr. Duterte was elected just as the international legal community gave a different message on the rules-based order in the South China Sea.
My question to the panel is: Is there any sense that in the last little while we’ve, if not turned the corner, there’s a few—a few green shoots? First of all, in the Dutch elections the forces of nativism and populism were rejected. The result yesterday in France I think was a really resounding affirmation of the principles of global cooperation. If we now have, for example, Chancellor Merkel strong reelected later in the year—I realize this doesn’t solve all the problems listed on this, but at least for some of the, in terms of managing the global economy, cyber governance, perhaps managing and adapting to climate change, is the re a sense that the freefall we are in has perhaps been checked and you’re starting to get a corps of strong leaders who may—who may mean that next year the grades are a little bit—are a little bit stronger?
RYAN: All right. Have people been sobered by the events of the last year?
HAASS: As much as I would love to embrace optimism—(laughter)—and it would be so uncharacteristic—it would be refreshing for me. I could write a book with a more positive title. I don’t quite see it. Look, I agree that you pointed to a few things in Europe, Michael, in particular, you know, the Dutch election, the French election, the likelihood of the German elections. But in the meantime, you’ve got the enormous challenges they’re going to face domestically. I think you also have the very worrisome possibility of what happens in Italy. So I’m not sure the trend continues there. But even if Europe is in slightly better shape, and I think you’re probably right, mainly—well, in what’s been averted or avoided. And we’ll see how—whether the opportunity is seized in terms of reforming or revitalizing the EU.
I don’t see where that matters a whole lot on the other issues in here. I don’t see that slightly stronger leadership in Europe will necessarily have a fundamental effect on the dynamics of the Middle East. Even if the Paris agreement remains intact and the United States doesn’t pull out, the gap between even an optimistic view of what Paris, its trajectory, and the climate challenge—doesn’t have a significant effect. It’s only a matter of time, I would argue, before we’re having a serious international conversation about geoengineering, simply because mitigation has fallen so far short. Europeans are going to be having their hands full debating Brexit. They’re not going to be—you know, transatlantic trade agreements are not going to be on the agenda for I don’t know how many years, if then.
I think there’s real—quite possibly in the trade front what you could say, OK, what we didn’t do in NAFTA was a green shoot, that NAFTA didn’t go the way of TPP. So I guess that’s one. Maybe that’s a mini-green shoot—a shootette, which we’re all happy to—I think—I think, quite honestly, a lot depends on the trajectory of the Trump presidency. How ultimately is “America first” defined? Does this administration have something of an evolution in its view toward the American role in the international system? And how does it define its role. And I think that’s probably, even more than the change in Europe, I would think that’s the biggest question mark. And the big test, and maybe Dr. Chen is right, that North Korea is somewhat teed up as a test case of U.S., Chinese, and more broadly international cooperation. It’s not really preventing proliferation. It’s managing it and dealing with it once it’s happened. And I think that might be—you know, that might be the signature event of 2017, for better and for worse. But I think it’s probably a bit premature to see meaningful consequences of some of the positive signs you looked at.
RYAN: I want to make sure we get as many questions in as we can in the next 10 minutes. So the woman right here in the front.
Q: Hi. My name is Mekani Tungar (ph). I work for TechnoServe.
I saw that advancing development is high on the opportunities for breakthrough. But in recent years there’s been a push for trade not aid. And given the negative outlook for trade, and the current administration’s distaste for development, where do you see in the world those breakthroughs coming for advancing development?
RYAN: Anyone have a good answer? Dr. Chen?
CHEN: Yeah, if I may. I think that 2015 is a milestone year for the global development agenda. At least we cherish the consensus that the international community should work together. And through those more universally accepted index for a sustainable development agenda. But the challenge here is how to implement them, particularly at the national level. So far, I think that even in terms of G-20 members—so-called most—the biggest economy or most important, influential economy in the world—I think that only a few of them are now on the track of making—working out their national implementation plan for the development. So I think that in terms of the implementation process, there will be more challenges ahead of us, particularly when I think that those government—they are much more constrained by those economic growth and less financially, you know, good shape. I think that that will all constrain their capability to do that. But anyway, in terms of China, I think that at least Beijing will continue to push forward on that.
HAASS: Can I just say one thing? I think part of the answer—if I could be uncharacteristically upbeat—advancing development. One would be a Europe that is slightly more—you know, better led and more united. And that would mean that the EU, which has played a large role in global development, that will probably continue. India growing at 7 percent. That in and of itself is a significant advance in the development agenda. The fact that U.S. Congress will probably protect U.S. aid levels I think is good. But I think—and the trade regime, while it won’t move forward, won’t unravel probably in most cases. And you could even have a TPP 11. So you could have some advance there. So it might—I take your point. I’m not fighting it. I think it is somewhat optimistic. But you can construct a theory where development issues are actually—do relatively OK, despite some of the rhetoric.
RYAN: Go right here, in the purple tie.
Q: Thank you. Jay Kansara with the Hindu American Foundation.
Just as there is—on the far right there is a skepticism or a disbelief in the global liberal order, there is also an equally skeptical vantage point from the left. And that was visible with the rise of somebody like Bernie Sanders and the questioning of NAFTA, and also some of—U.S. engagement in Syria, particularly arming some of the rebels, who then—which was believed to essentially be arming ISIS. How do we address—how can we address their concerns, particularly from an American vantage point? So I guess my question is directed to Mr. Haass. How do we address that in order to correct some of these perceptions about the global liberal order here in America, which can—which plays out in our elections, which we clearly saw?
HAASS: Well, actually, I don’t think a lot of the concerns on the left are fundamentally different than a lot of concerns on the right. I think we’ve seen a scrambling of American political parties, and within each party you have tendencies. So there were certain similarities between Mr. Trump’s support and Mr. Sanders’ support: a certain lack of enthusiasm for certain types of foreign involvements, particularly military involvements of a certain scale; a lack of enthusiasm, shall we call it, for trade agreements; a reaction against, quote/unquote, “globalization” and all of its manifestations. So maybe a difference on immigration, but not so much on other issues. And I think you see that—you saw it in France. The Mélenchon agenda and the Le Pen agenda, other than immigration, looked virtually identical.
So I think you’re seeing both left and right have these concerns. And I think then you—again, you come back to what we talked about before: What’s an agenda to help people cope with the real challenges of globalization, but, even more, technological advance? And again, I—my hope is that ultimately both the left and the right can be persuaded that the answer is not to be found in shutting borders to people or trade. And as long as that’s where the left and right are, it’s going to be a depressing debate because those are—even if they got what they wanted, it’s not going to give them the remedies they want.
So, you know, then you’re into basic questions about public education and how you ultimately win debates in free societies. And that’s a—you know, that’s—and it’s tough. I mean, people like Carla Hills are here, who have dealt with this their entire careers. But the perceived losers of issues, whether it’s from trade or immigration, feel it with a much greater intensity than the general beneficiaries. And there’s always a(n) inequality, if you will, to political debates, and intensity of felt loss is much greater than the intensity of actual gain. And that’s a—that’s a structural problem for political systems, and that affects both left and right.
But it’ll be interesting to see in 2018 and 2020 whether anyone takes up that argument, whether—in either party I think there’s a space, shall we say. And whether Mr. Trump is ultimately challenged in the Republican Party and who comes to the fore in the Democratic Party—not just, if you will, people of the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders left—whether there are people in either party who decide to take on these issues as we move towards 2020. And I think that’ll be one of the really interesting questions in American politics.
RYAN: OK. I think there were—there’s a hand in the back there, in the middle. Right there, yeah.
Q: My name is Chen Yang. I’m from the George Washington University.
While we were talking about the global issues, I was reminded of the role played by Confucius over 2,000—more than 2,000 years ago. He was preaching great harmony among the seven kingdoms that were competing for leadership in China. And I was wondering—and I’m posing this question to the panel—if the U.N. has a role to play in addressing the global issues. Thank you.
RYAN: Great question. Anyone? Carlos, do you want to take that?
SIMONSEN LEAL: Well, it’s a very interesting point that you raise because that is—in my belief, it’s a root of a difference of understanding between East and West. In the East (sic; West), in the Judaical-Christian religions, you have a big problem, which is to save your soul, and that you can only do by yourself. It leads to individualism. And the social framework of the West is built for dealing with this problem, individualism.
In the East, you start with Lao Tzu and then Confucius, and you have another form of dealing with the same problems, and individualism is reduced. It exists. There is greed, there is selfishness, as in the West, but it’s treated in a different form. And there is a lot of misunderstanding.
Of course, the U.N. was built under Western principles, and I don’t know if it can adapt to act in a Confucian way. It’s not on the nature of things.
But it—I also would like to remind you that Confucius, in China, he didn’t succeed for long. Actually, he failed. And what really was his success was to create a culture that yielded a structure of government, with the passage of time, and the public service that took control and unified the seven kingdoms. And you not only have Confucius, you have other thinkers that are not very known in the West that worked a lot of public governance problems along centuries, especially between the, let us say, minus-100 to 100 years before Christ and the year 900.
But, again, China was exposed to the rest of the world no matter what. And one day, it was invaded and dynasties changed. And so there is a lot to be learned there. There is a whole lot to be learned there. But I don’t think that right now we would be ready for Confucian thinking.
RYAN: We have about one minute. Does somebody want to add something and address the U.N. question as well?
CHEN: Well, we—of course we should, to some extent, draw upon Confucius, all of those very good tradition, those cultural philosophy, to try to get some experience of good teaching, whether those—some of those good principle could continue to apply to the contemporary world.
But one thing I want to point out, that the context in which Confucius raised those harmony is that he realized how difficult it is to reach harmony among those competing and confrontational states during that period. It was really a chaotic and quite military confrontational period of time. So he just—finally, he withdraw from all of those mission to try to educate the emperor or king that only—you know, to evolve into those what we call civil society and to educate those normal, everyday people, and to make them realize how important to apply those kind of principles to the average life, rather than just try to have such ambitious plan to educate the king and emperors, to make them to realize the importance of reach harmony.
Having said that, United Nations, I think that so far it is just a kind of a(n) international coordination forum. If we return to those General Assembly and when we refer to those national—Security Council, it has its authority. But it all depends upon the concert or the agreement among all those key players. That’s the essence. If those key players, five members for instance, they could not reach agreement, it doesn’t work. We have seen too many bad experience.
Elizabeth, 20 seconds. Last word.
SIDIROPOULOS: Yeah. I think the U.N. is a very important body, but I don’t think it’s going to solve all our problems. Ultimately, the U.N. is about member states, and it’s about actually working together in various forums. The U.N. is the legitimating body. But I think we need to look at various other instruments and sort of smaller groupings that can build consensus on certain things and move things forward. And for all the sort of international cooperation and some views on postmodernist perspectives, et cetera, et cetera, I think the issue of great power cooperation remains key on being able to move many of these issues forward.
Well, listen, we’ve reached the end of our time here. I’d like to thank you for being here and thank our panelists for the discussion today. (Applause.)