Teddy Roosevelt had it right:  “It is not the critic who counts…”

We’re about leaders and citizens of character – In The Arena– fighting to defend human rights, foster security and advance freedom.

Inspired by Senator John McCain and the McCain family legacy of public service, Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership champions character-driven leadership and civic engagement in the United States and abroad.

Our five core programs are all action-oriented and mutually supporting.

The Next Generation Leaders program prepares and networks emerging leaders from tough spots around the world.

International Rule of Law & Security steeps students in the law and policy of promoting fair and equitable justice systems, and assists in the development of legal systems that ensure fundamental rights and national security.

Combatting Human Trafficking educates stakeholders, trains authorities and fields long-term mechanisms to eradicate an unconscionable scourge.

Human Rights & Democracy convenes a uniquely effective working group of principals, gives voice and protection to a growing list of activists, and is mounting a national campaign to redefine how we talk and act.

And our Counterterrorism & National Security program has set out to increase U.S. capacity to challenge homegrown extremism, build an international community of young counterterrorism professionals and forge international partnerships.

Euromaidan “Revolution of Dignity” — Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 2013

Cell phone footage captured by Senator John McCain

Calling All Mavericks

America has lost its most well-known Maverick, and it’s a position we need to fill. Mavericks are essential to freedom. The McCain Institute has launched a new initiative, #MavericksNeeded, calling all Mavericks to stand up, to speak out, and to serve causes greater than themselves.

#MavericksNeeded is Phase 1 of a long-term nonpartisan initiative to educate and inspire Americans to reconnect with the United States’ bedrock legacy of standing up for human rights at home and around the world.

In Action

A Call for Mavericks
McCain Institute: Join Us -- In The Arena
The Sedona Forum 2018 Humanitarian Focus with Cindy McCain and Ashton Kutcher
Next Generation Leaders Impact Video


2018 Next Generation Leaders: New York City Module

In a trip to New York City last month, our 2018 Next Generation Leaders (NGLs) began the latest phase in building their Leadership Action Plans by examining leadership in practice…

The McCain Institute Marks Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month in Effort to #EndTrafficking

On January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, our staff wore blue to raise awareness of human trafficking. #WearBlueDay Also on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Student Alliance Against…

McCain Institute announces Senator Heidi Heitkamp as Board Member

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the McCain Institute is pleased to announce that former Senator Heidi Heitkamp has joined the Institute’s Board of Trustees. While serving in the United States Senate from…


Phoenix, Arizona – Rick Davis, Senator John McCain’s former presidential campaign manager and McCain Institute Trustee, read the following farewell statement from Senator McCain at a press conference at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, on August 27th, 2018.

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17 Feb 2019

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Transatlantic relations at an inflection point. Aspen Germany hosts @kvolker from @McCainInstitute and @PeterbeyerCDU for breakfast conversationon the lessons of #MSC2019 and way forward in the Trump era.

Delay of Nigeria's elections raises concerns & questions of legitimacy around the electoral commission https://t.co/2sIcbjG4UV

"What we're seeing is death by a thousand cuts of our democracy." - Award-winning journalist @mariaressa on her recent arrest, the latest blow to an independent press in the Philippines. https://t.co/eT7DK2kY5M