from Council of Councils

International Cooperation Gets a Low Grade from Global Think Tank Leaders for the Second Year in a Row

May 7, 2018

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The Report Card on International Cooperation gives a dismal C- to international efforts to mitigate the world’s most pressing problems in 2017, the same grade given for 2016. The Council of Councils—a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) initiative comprising twenty-nine major international policy institutes—surveyed the heads of member think tanks to evaluate the world’s performance on ten transnational challenges of 2017, from countering terrorism to advancing global health

Report Card

According to CFR President Richard N. Haass, performance on international cooperation in 2017 received a lackluster C- in part because “the United States changed from the principal preserver of order to a principal disrupter, as it called into question the global economic architecture and long-standing alliances, agreements, and institutions.”

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The fourth annual report card offers the following grades:

 

Performance in 2017

Performance in 2016

Overall Grade for International Cooperation in 2017

C-

C-

Promoting Global Health

B-

B

Managing the Global Economy

B-

C+

Combating Transnational Terrorism

B-

C

Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change

C+

B

Advancing Development

C+

B-

Expanding Global Trade

C

D+

Preventing and Responding to Violent Conflict Between States

C

C

Managing Cyber Governance

C-

C-

Preventing and Responding to Internal Violent Conflict

D+

D+

Preventing Nuclear Proliferation

D+

B-

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Global Governance

 

The grade for preventing nuclear proliferation dropped precipitously, from a B- in 2016 to a near-failing D+ in 2017. At the same time, respondents ranked nonproliferation the top priority for policymakers in 2018.

“International institutions and national governments failed to assuage the serious security concerns about the North Korean development of nuclear weapons—weapons that can now reach the continental United States—and the increasing risk of nuclear armament by South Korea and Japan,” commented Sook Jong Lee, president of the East Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea. “President Donald J. Trump’s policy has increased the likelihood that the Iranian nuclear agreement will fail,” Lee added.

The grade for efforts to expand global trade saw the sharpest improvement across all ten issue areas. Respondents awarded it a C in 2017, up from a D+ in 2016. “Despite Trump’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric, in 2017 global growth accelerated to 3.7 percent, the fastest pace in seven years, and global trade increased by 3.6 percent,” the report card notes. However, trade growth depends on robust global economic growth, and substantial risks and uncertainties from rising trade and geopolitical tensions still threaten the world economy.

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The survey was conducted from December 1, 2017, through January 12, 2018. The report card was made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation.

Explore the Council of Councils Report Card on International Cooperation at cfr.org/reportcard. Learn more about its methodology.

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Global Governance

The Council of Councils is a CFR initiative connecting leading foreign policy institutes from around the world in a common conversation on issues of global governance and multilateral cooperation. The Council of Councils draws on the best thinking from around the world to find common ground on shared threats, build support for innovative ideas, and introduce remedies into the public debate and policymaking processes of member countries.

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