New Articles
  May 26th, 2018 | Written by

International Cooperation Gets Low Grade

[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="13106399"]


  • Global think tank leaders down on efforts to mitigate the world's most pressing problems for second year in row.
  • Despite Trump's anti-trade rhetoric, 2017 saw global trade increase by 3.6 percent.
  • Think tank grade for preventing nuclear proliferation dropped precipitously for 2017.

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.

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.”

Somewhat surprisingly, 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.

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.

Explore the Council of Councils Report Card on International Cooperation here.