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


European elections suggest US shouldn’t be complacent in 2020

The 2019 European Parliament elections were well defended against outside interference. AP Photo/Olivier Matthys Liisa Past, Arizona State University In many ways, the European Parliament elections in late May were…

“India and China: what is success?”

By Kurt Volker, Former US Ambassador To NATO; Executive Director McCain Institute for International Leadership One need look no further than the Indian parliamentary election that took place from April…

Steele Shows Resolve in Congressional Testimony

McCain Institute’s Director of Prevention and National Security Brette Steele gave expert testimony this week before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In the hearing, Confronting White…


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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McCain Institute

Today's leadership quote of the week, focused on civility, comes from Sen. John McCain. #InTheArena ... See MoreSee Less

13 Jun 2019


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Where has Honor gone?

Today's leadership quote of the week comes from Prime Minister and 2018 Award for Courage and Leadership recipient Theresa May. #InTheArena ... See MoreSee Less

07 Jun 2019

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Contrasting their varying levels of democracy, Ambassador @kvolker analyzes India's and China's political systems, writing "it is ultimately the way in which people relate to government that defines the difference between the Chinese and Indian models".

“Europe protected the legitimacy of its parliamentary elections and showed some effective ways the U.S. and other nations can protect their own.”

Next Generation Leader @LiisaPast breaks down what the EU did right on protecting its recent election. https://t.co/ww9THaiSXB

Interested in reporting on a presidential campaign, Capitol Hill, and the White House? NBC’s @KellyO sat down with McCain ’08 campaign manager Rick Davis on #InTheArena to discuss her experiences doing all of this and more. Give it a listen here: https://t.co/RMMGGYMLyR