The Fragility Study Group is an independent, non-partisan initiative, jointly convened by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), to improve the U.S. government’s approach to reducing global fragility. 

flournoy burns lindborg

Chaired by William Burns, Michèle Flournoy and Nancy Lindborg, the Study Group provided recommendations to the next U.S. presidential administration and the next Congress on strategic approaches to preventing and addressing the interrelated security, humanitarian and development threats posed by fragile states. The Study Group is advised by a group of more than 20 former U.S. government officials, members of Congress, academics and private sector leaders.

Leadership

Burns
 

​Ambassador William J. Burns – President, CEIP; former U.S. deputy secretary of state.

"The upheaval we've seen over the past few years, from the Arab uprisings to the spread of extremism, and the global displacement crisis to the Ebola outbreak, underscore the stakes and urgency of addressing fragility with renewed emphasis."

Honorable Michèle Flournoy – CEO and co-founder, CNAS; former U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy.

"After the 2016 elections, the new Congress and next administration – regardless of political affiliation – should demand better ideas about whether and how to engage, prioritize and invest in these challenges"

Lindborg

Honorable Nancy Lindborg – President, USIP; former assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

"More than a billion people now live in states deemed fragile, which is where conflict, violence and poverty are deeply concentrated."

Objective

To advise the next Administration and Congress on how to meaningfully improve United States foreign policy for addressing fragility.

Products

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The Study Group produced a report composed of:

  • A joint high-level paper from the three chairs outlining principles for engagement and prioritization in fragile environments.
  • A series of policy briefs authored by institutional scholars that built on the chair report, discussing the implications of fragility on existing U.S. tools, strategic interests, and challenges.

Launch

The public launch of the Fragility Study Group took place on September 12, 2016. It featured two panels: the first featured the three chairs, moderated by David Ignatius, and the second featured three policy brief authors, and was moderated by executive director Alexa Courtney. For more information about the event discussion, please see the USIP analysis, Burns, Flournoy, Lindborg Press Urgency of Fragile States

Membership

The Study Group includes the Chairs, institutional points of contact, institutional scholars and a specifically dedicated staff.

Senior Advisors

The former U.S. government officials, members of Congress, academics and private sector leaders who will help the Study Group frame relevant and bi-partisan recommendations include:

  • Gen (ret.) John Allen: Co-director and senior fellow, The Brookings Institution Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence; Former special envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL.
  • Hon. Howard Berman: Senior advisor, Covington and Burling, LLP; former U.S. representative (D-CA).
  • Ambassador Johnnie Carson: Senior advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace; former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
  • Jared Cohen: Founder and director, Google Ideas; former member, Policy Planning Staff at U.S. Department of State.
  • Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens: Deputy chief executive officer, United Nations Foundation; former U.S. ambassador to U.N. Economic and Social Council.
  • David Crane: Professor of practice, Syracuse University College of Law; former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone.
  • Dr. Chester Crocker: James R. Schlesinger professor of strategic studies, Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service; former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
  • Dr. Paula Dobriansky: Senior fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; former senior vice president, Thomson Reuters and Undersecretary of state for democracy and global Affairs.
  • Diana Farrell: Founding president and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute; former global head of McKinsey Center for Government.
  • Stephen J. Hadley: Chairman, U.S. Institute of Peace Board of Directors and principal, RiceHadleyGates; former national security advisor to President George W. Bush.
  • Gen (ret.) Carter Ham: Chairman, National Commission on the Future of the U.S. Army; former commander, U.S. Africa Command.
  • Neal Keny-Guyer: CEO, Mercy Corps; former director, Save the Children Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
  • Christopher Kojm: Visiting professor of the practice of international affairs, George Washington University Elliott School; former chairman, National Intelligence Council.
  • Dr. Stephen Krasner: Graham H. Stuart professor of international relations, senior associate dean for the social sciences, School of Humanities & Sciences, and the deputy director of Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI), Stanford University; former director of policy planning, U.S. Department of State.
  • Clare Lockhart: Co-founder and director, Institute for State Effectiveness.
  • David Miliband: President and CEO, International Rescue Committee; former secretary of state for foreign affairs, United Kingdom.
  • Ambassador George Moose: Vice chairman, U.S. Institute of Peace Board of Directors; former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and U.S. permanent representative to the European Office, United Nations.
  • Michael Morell: Senior counselor, Beacon Global Strategies LLC; former deputy director, Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Andrew Natsios: Executive professor and director, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University; former administrator, (USAID).
  • Ambassador Thomas Pickering: Vice chairman, Hills & Company; former undersecretary of state for political affairs.
  • Emma Sky, OBE: Director, Yale World Fellows and senior fellow, Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
  • Hon. Vin Weber: Partner, Mercury; former U.S. representative (R-MN).
  • Dr. Jeremy Weinstein: Professor of political science and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; former deputy to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Institutional Scholars

Each partner institution has identified scholars who will author, or contribute to, additional chapters exploring in greater depth particular themes and policy tools related to fragility. The chapter list will be forthcoming.

Additional Consultations

In addition to the Senior Advisors Group, Study Group staff has undertaken consultations with various experts, scholars and sitting government officials on background.

Latest Publications

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

Thursday, October 6, 2022

By: Jawhara Kanu;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Three and a half years after Sudan’s military deposed the authoritarian ruler, Omar Bashir, in response to massive protests, the current military leadership and divisions among political factions are stalling a return to elected civilian government. This year has brought a deepening economic crisis and violent communal clashes — but also a new wave of nonviolent, grassroots campaigns for a return to democracy. As Sudanese democracy advocates and their international allies seek ways to press the military for that transition, all sides should note, and work to sustain, Sudan’s nonviolent civic action.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceNonviolent Action

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Josh Martin;  Meghann Perez;  Ruben Grangaard

Although social contract theory—the idea that encountering someone with a different group identity can lead to greater understanding, empathy, and trust—has become a bedrock of most peacebuilding initiatives in recent decades, doubts remain about whether such initiatives prevent violence. This report provides practical insights and recommendations for improving peacebuilding efforts by more effectively factoring an understanding of human behavior into the design, implementation, and evaluation of social contact interventions.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent Action

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

Earlier this month Chinese leader Xi Jinping made his first foreign trip since the coronavirus outbreak, joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The summit was Xi’s first in-person opportunity to win support outside of China’s borders for his new Global Security Initiative (GSI), which he launched in April. While the GSI remains notional and somewhat vague, Xi is on the offensive, seeking to position his vision of a new global security architecture as an alternative to the Western-led security order. In an era of heightened strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, Xi’s GSI campaign could amount to yet another challenge to the U.S.-China relationship and the two countries’ ability to peacefully manage differences.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Mary Glantz, Ph.D.;  Mona Yacoubian

Vladimir Putin is under increased pressure as Russia continues to lose ground inside Ukraine. Faced with the prospect of stark losses — potentially leaving Russia in a worse position than before its February 24 invasion — Moscow may be embarked on an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy. By raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation twice in recent weeks, Putin may in fact be seeking a way out of his dilemma marked by Russia’s strategic failure in Ukraine. The coming weeks will be critical as Putin pursues nuclear brinksmanship — possibly even repositioning tactical nuclear weapons — while actually seeking an exit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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