The Council of Councils Report Card on International Cooperation

September 10, 2015

Results of global think tank survey published by the Council of Councils

The Council of Councils, a Council of Foreign Relations initiative that comprises 26 major international policy institutes, and aims to facilitate dialogue on global governance and multilateral cooperation, has released the results of a survey on international cooperation. The survey asked heads of member think tanks to evaluate international efforts on 10 of the most important global issues. Yasushi Kudo, president of The Genron NPO, took part in the survey representing Japan's intellectual community.
(Click here for the CoC Report Card Web site )

"Every era is characterized by a dominant threat to order and for this era, it comes from challenges that are global by nature," said CFR President Richard N. Haass. "This report card identifies the areas in which cooperation is most needed and can produce the greatest results."

Global cooperation on eight of the 10 issues received mediocre grades - C- or C+

The survey asked the heads of 26 international think tanks to evaluate global efforts on 10 of the most important issues in 2014: the global economy, nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, development, global health, trade, cyber governance, transnational terrorism, and both interstate and intrastate, i.e., internal, conflict. Global cooperation on eight of the 10 issues received mediocre grades - C- or C+. The global issue that received the most positive grade was nuclear non-proliferation with only a B- and international cooperation tackling internal conflict was graded with a D (no progress has been made).

International think tanks are concerned with the lack of governance mechanisms to prevent conflicts and violence internally and internationally

When asked to prioritize these issues for 2015, respondents agreed that preventing and responding to interstate violence ranked No. 1, followed by internal conflict and international terrorism. These three areas also received low grades on the evaluation of the progress in 2014 (intrastate violence: C-, internal conflict: D, terrorism: C-) and on the opportunity for a breakthrough in 2015 (intrastate violence: 7th, internal conflict: 10th, terrorism: 9th).

"We are at the period of returning to traditional interstate rivalry that causes upheaval in the international system," said Marcin Zaborowski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs. Steven Blockmans of the Center for European Policy Studies pointed out that "Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War's bipolar system, the world is far from being a unipolar one, but it is also not truly multipolar. The centers of power are multiple, of different natures and overlapping." All the global issues "demonstrate the urgency of forging strong partnerships."

Genron NPO President Yasushi Kudo stated that the global issues can be categorized in "the crises that arise from dysfunctionality and fragility of the nation-states' systems" and "the challenges come from the gridlock of multilateral mechanisms."

Examples of fragile states can be seen in the area of counterterrorism efforts such as against the Islamic State and the fragile health-care system that allowed the Ebola epidemic in 2014. The gridlock of intergovernmental mechanisms can be seen in controlling the international financial system with the Fed's planned interest rate hike and its spillover effects on countries around the world, and the conflict and antagonism between nation- states that can be seen in the Ukraine crisis, and the territorial disputes over the islets in the East China Sea between Japan and China. Kudo also pointed out that these global issues are not stand-alone issues but interrelated, and 2015 will be significant as various agreements and goals are set to be finalized.

The report card will help policymakers around the world better understand the global issues and their priorities

When asked to rank the 10 global challenges in order of the opportunity for a breakthrough in 2015, the expansion of global trade is the area that has the most potential for a breakthrough as negotiations on mega FTAs such as the TPP are coming to a close. This is followed by the advancement of global health, with global health governance reform much debated since the Ebola crisis, and the mitigation of climate change, where a new carbon emission target is expected to be agreed at the COP21 conference in Paris. The prevention of nuclear proliferation that has just seen the conclusion of a nuclear deal with Iran and advances in development, with new U.N. development goals expected to be agreed at this year's U.N. General Assembly, are ranked 4th and 5th. As the target year of many international agreements and conventions, heads of international think tanks expressed their expectations for breakthroughs within 2015.

On the other hand, the report card has highlighted the global issues, such as prevention and control of internal and international violent conflict, counter- terrorism, management of the global economy and cyber governance, for which there is no comprehensive framework for international cooperation or a breakthrough cannot be expected in 2015.

"Globalization has presented new threats - and new opportunities - which cannot be managed by any country alone," said Stewart M. Patrick, director of CFR's International Institutions and Global Governance Program, which produced the report card. "They require international cooperation, but it can be hard to prioritize among important issues and grasp how the world is doing at addressing them. This report card is a unique initiative that helps policymakers around the world better understand trends in international cooperation and prioritize among them," he explained.

In order to expedite Japan's further contribution to the solution of world issues, The Genron NPO is set to launch full-fledged discussions on the global agenda, and the country's desired stance and international cooperation.

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