Atlantic Council

This article is about the US think tank. For the NATO body, see North Atlantic Council.
Atlantic Council
Motto Working Together to Secure the Future
Formation 1961 (1961)
Type International affairs think tank
Headquarters 1030 15th Street, NW, 12th floor
Washington, DC
Jon Huntsman, Jr.
President & CEO
Frederick Kempe

The Atlantic Council is a think tank in the field of international affairs. Founded in 1961, it provides a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. It manages ten regional centers and functional programs related to international security and global economic prosperity. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

It is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Association.


The Atlantic Council was founded with a mission to encourage the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began after World War II. In its early years its work consisted largely of publishing policy papers and polling Europeans and Americans about their attitudes towards transatlantic and international cooperation. In these early years its primary focus was on economic issues—mainly encouraging free trade between the two continents, and to a lesser extent to the rest of the world—but it also did some work on political and environmental issues.[1]

Although the Atlantic Council did publish policy papers and monographs, Melvin Small of Wayne State University wrote that, especially in its early years, the Council's real strength lies in its connections to influential policy makers. The Council early on found a niche as "center for informal get-togethers" of leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, with members working to develop "networks of continuing communication".[1]

The Atlantic Council works outside Europe and the US also. The Atlantic Council was among the first organizations advocating for an increased Japanese presence in the international community, and in recent years has expanded its focus with the opening of its South Asia Center and Program on Asia. Its Asian programs have expanded in recent years due to the war in Afghanistan and the new challenge of coordinating with India and China on climate change efforts.[1][2]

In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.[3] In addition, other Council members also left to serve the administration: Susan Rice as ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter as Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Four years later, Hagel stepped down to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft served as interim chairman of the organization's Board of Directors until January 2014, when former ambassador to China and governor of Utah Jon Huntsman, Jr.[4] was appointed.

The Atlantic Council has influential supporters, with former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling the Council a "pre-eminent think tank" with a "longstanding reputation",[5] and former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) noting that the Council is "held in high esteem within the Atlantic community".[6]

In September 2014, The Atlantic Council hired Call of Duty: Black Ops series director Dave Anthony as a nonresident senior fellow.[7]

Political stance

The Atlantic Council has, since its inception, been a nonpartisan institution, with members "from the moderate internationalist wings of both parties."[8] Despite its connections, the Council is by charter independent of the US government and NATO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[1]


The Atlantic Council creates a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, the Council hosted former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first major US speech, in which he discussed issues such as Afghanistan, Russia, and the broader transatlantic relationship.[9] Prominent members of the US Congress have also appeared, including Senator Richard Lugar and Secretary of State John Kerry.[10][11] The Council often hosts events with sitting heads of state and government, including former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,[12] Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk,[13] and former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.[14]

The Council has hosted many military leaders from both sides of the Atlantic as well. The Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security has since January 2007 held periodic events known as the Commanders Series where it invites military leaders from the United States and Europe to speak about conflicts of interest to the Atlantic community.[15] As part of the Commanders Series, American military leaders such as former General George Casey[16] and former Admiral Timothy Keating[17] and European leaders like former French Chief of Defense General Jean-Louis Georgelin[18] and Dutch Lieutenant General Ton van Loon[19] have spoken on issues as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, and security threats in Asia and Africa.

Its flagship annual events are Distinguished Leadership Awards in Washington, DC; the Future Leaders Summit ; the Global Citizen Awards in New York City; the Freedom Awards in Wroclaw, Poland; and the Atlantic Council Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

Programs and Centers

Launched at the 2008 Bucharest summit, the Young Atlanticist Network brings together a community of emerging leaders who share a vision of closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation based on common values. Through online tools and regular events, the Young Atlanticist Network serves as a forum for open dialogue between young Atlanticists so they can exchange their views on a range of international issues. As a meeting place, the Network serves as a stage for global leaders to address the next generation and to share the perspective on current issues.[20]

The Young Atlanticist Network also manages the very competitive Future Leaders program. Building on years of experience convening emerging leaders at flagship events at the last five official NATO summits, the Council will host the 2014 Future Leaders Summit on the side-lines of the official 2014 Wales summit. This Future Leaders Summit will connect emerging leaders from NATO member countries with one another, the Alliance's current leaders, luminaries in the international security sphere, and a lasting global network of peers. The Council selects a cadre of exceptional emerging leaders to participate in this dynamic event through an open and competitive call for applications.[20]

The Program on Transatlantic Relations promotes dialogue on the major issues that will affect the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. At the heart of the program is the conviction that a healthy transatlantic relationship is an essential prerequisite for a stronger international system. The Council seeks to strengthen the transatlantic relationship by addressing specific areas of policy differences by identifying areas of potential cooperation and by building the personal networks and mutual understanding that form the basis for an effective partnership.[21] The Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security examines U.S. relationships with allies and adversaries in an effort to build consensus around policies that contribute to a more stable, secure and well-governed world.[22]

The Global Business and Economics Program works to build upon and strengthen the already deep economic integration between Europe and the United States as well as promote Transatlantic leadership in the global economy. Bringing together top business leaders, government policy makers, and economic experts, the program explores transatlantic and global issues of importance to the U.S. and European business community.[23]

Under the leadership of Shuja Nawaz, the South Asia Center is the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as well as on relations between these countries and China, Central Asia, Iran, the Arab world, Europe and the U.S. As part of the Council's Asia program, the Center seeks to foster partnerships with key institutions in the region to establish itself as a forum for dialogue between decision makers in South Asia, the U.S. and NATO. These deliberations cover internal and external security, governance, trade, economic development, education and other issues.[24]

The Energy and Environment program explores the economic and political aspects of energy security and supply, as well as international environmental issues. It promotes open access and clean air and offers policy recommendations to meet developing countries’ needs through the increased flow of capital, technology and know-how in the energy and water supply sectors.[25]

The Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center fosters dialogue among regional leaders, as well with counterparts from key neighbors and global leaders. Combining in-depth understanding of Eurasia’s history with expertise on politics, economics and energy, the Center provides distinctive research and advice to governments and businesses worldwide. It seeks to promote an agenda of regional cooperation and integration based on shared values and common interest in a free, prosperous and peaceful future.[26]

The Africa Center was established in September 2009 with a mission to help transform US and European policy approaches to Africa by emphasizing the building of strong geopolitical partnerships with African states and strengthening economic growth and prosperity on the continent.[27]

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East seeks to produce original analysis of the forces transforming the region, as well as policy recommendations for the United States and Europe about how to promote closer and more productive relations with the region.[28]

The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center promotes a stronger partnership between Latin America, the United States, and Europe based on a shared foundation in transatlantic values and common strategic interests, and engages its robust network of political, business, and NGO entrepreneurs to develop ideas for policy and business leaders seeking innovative solutions to regional and global challenges.[29]


Jon Huntsman, Chairman
Fred Kempe, President


The Atlantic Council produces publications and issue briefs about global policy issues ranging from NATO's global role to energy security. A list of the Atlantic Council's publications and issue briefs can be found on the Atlantic Council's publications webpage.[31]


In September 2014, the New York Times reported that since 2008, the organization has received donations from more than twenty-five governments outside of the United States, including $5 million from Norway.[32]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Small, Melvin (1 June 1998). "The Atlantic Council--The Early Years" (PDF). NATO. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  2. "Admiral Timothy Keating Event Transcript". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  3. Allen, Mike (11 February 2009). "Politico Playbook - Exclusive: Senator Hagel succeeds Gen. Jones at Atlantic Council". Politico. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  4. Howell, Tom (16 January 2014). "Jon Huntsman tapped as Atlantic Council chairman". The Washington Times. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  5. Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Drennan, Justine (September 22, 2014). "Call of Duty: Star Video Game Director Takes Unusual Think Tank Job". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  8. Melvin Small, "The Atlantic Council — The Early Years," page 21 (Wayne State University: June 1, 1998)
  9. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen: First Major U.S. Speech Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
  10. Senator Richard Lugar: Congressional Perspective on the Future of NATO Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
  11. Kerry and Hagel Unveil Atlantic Council's Pakistan Report Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 25 February 2009
  12. Council Hosts Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 24 September 2008
  13. Webcast: Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Atlantic Council, 12 March 2014
  14. Young Atlanticist Discussion with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 3 May 2007
  15. Commanders Series Archived October 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council
  16. General Casey: Complex Operations and Counterinsurgency Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 May 2009
  17. Admiral Timothy Keating: Asia-Pacific Security Challenges Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 29 June 2009
  18. General Jean-Louis Georgelin: France in NATO Archived July 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 10 September 2009
  19. Ton van Loon: Taliban Have Lost the War Archived July 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 5 June 2007
  20. 1 2 "Young Atlanticist Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  21. "Transatlantic Relations Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  22. "Brent Scowcroft Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  23. "Global Business and Economics". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  24. "South Asia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  25. "Energy and Environment". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  26. "Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  27. "Africa Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  28. "Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  29. "Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  30. "Healey, Jason". Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  31. "Publications". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  32. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confessore, Nicholas (6 September 2014). "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks". New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015.

External links

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