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Ukraine

There was no other U.S. statesman who advocated for Ukraine more than Senator John McCain. In 2014, as Russia began its takeover of Crimea Senator McCain said, “We are all Ukrainians,” as he urged America and the world to oppose Vladimir Putin’s theft of land from a sovereign Ukraine. Senator McCain believed a free and democratic Ukraine would be a bulwark against Putin’s authoritarian regime in Russia and something that emerging states around the world could aspire to. As a senator, he rallied with protesting Ukrainians in Kyiv and constantly pressed his colleagues in Washington to support the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression economically and militarily. With Ukraine currently under attack – again by Vladimir Putin and Russia – we are driven by Senator McCain’s want of freedom and democracy for Ukraine to support them in defense of their homeland. The Ukrainians are standing up for a cause greater than themselves – the cause of freedom, epitomizing what it means to defend democracy.

Vladimir Putin wants to restore the old Russian empire. He cannot stand a free, democratic, prosperous Ukraine, because sooner or later, the people of Russia would want to have that kind of lifestyle as well.

Ukraine: The Grassroots Defense of Democracy & Human Rights​

We and World Central Kitchen co-hosted an event at the U.S. Capitol with Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch and a bipartisan group of five other U.S. Senators, focused on the grassroots defense of democracy and human rights in Ukraine following another Russian invasion.

Speakers included Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.)Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.)Jim Risch (R-Idaho)Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova.

Following these remarks, a panel conversation was moderated by McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas and featured a dialogue with World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook, 2022 Ukrainian McCain Global Leader Dr. Mariia Levchenko, World Central Kitchen’s operations lead in Kyiv, Ukraine Kate Serdiuk, and First Secretary at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Kateryna Smagliy, who is also an alumna of the McCain Institute’s leadership programs.

Meet The People Helping Prosecute War Crimes in Ukraine

As the illegal invasion of Ukraine continues, atrocity crimes have been reportedly committed by the Russian forces. We hosted two virtual discussions featuring lawyers, reporters, prosecutors, and investigators making sure that the Ukrainians and the international community hold Russian individuals accountable for the atrocity crimes they have committed.

The event featured opening remarks from Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice (GCJ). The first virtual conversation was between McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas and the Lead Advisor for the EU-UK-US Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group Ambassador Clint Williamson.

The second panel was moderated by McCain Institute Human Rights and Democracy Program Manager Pedro Pizano and featured Truth Hounds Executive Director Roman Avramenko, EU-UK-US Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group Coordinator Andrea Cayley, Global Justice Advisors Founder Scott Martin, and Maidan Monitoring Information Center Chair Nataliya Zubar

Evelyn Farkas Discusses Ukrainian Gains on Meet The Press Now

Evelyn Farkas Talks About Vladimir Putin Not Attending Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

Evelyn Farkas and Andrea Mitchell Discuss Latest with Brittney Griner on MSNBC

#McCainOnUkraine

The Sedona Forum

Thank you, friends of the McCain Institute, for the success of the first-ever hybrid Sedona Forum. With the theme of “Strategic Competition,” speakers at the Sedona Forum 2022 included Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, U.S. Special Operations Commander General Richard Clarke, former U.S. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper, World Food Kitchen CEO Nate Mook, a bipartisan delegation of 16 U.S. senators and members of Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, FBI Director Christopher Wray and many more experts, policymakers, humanitarians and defenders of democracy. 

The Sedona Forum also partnered with The Washington Post to call attention to our joint efforts to ensure democracy does not die in the darkness.

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Keynote Highlights

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Prevention Practitioners’ Network

In partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, we are building a national network of interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to addressing targeted violence and terrorism, and its impacts, within the United States. This network is both increasing the efficacy of local prevention frameworks and programs and expanding referrals to qualified programs throughout the country.

A National Policy Blueprint to End White Supremacist Violence

In a joint effort with the Center for American Progress, we conducted interviews, round table discussions, surveys and research to inform a comprehensive national policy blueprint, designed to serve as a starting point for a whole-of-government response. This blueprint focuses areas of broad consensus, providing dozens of recommendations that Congress, the Biden Administration, and partners at the state and local level can pursue to counter white supremacist violence.

Invent2Prevent

Expanding on the Peer-to-Peer initiative, we partnered with EdVenture Partners and Credence Management Solutions to challenge university students to develop their own dynamic products, tools, or initiatives to prevent targeted violence and terrorism. University teams compete for cash awards, education scholarships, and optional entry into a one-year sustainment program.

Preventing
Targeted Violence

In October of 2021, President Joseph Biden stated that “domestic terrorism from white supremacists is the most lethal terrorist threat in the homeland.” For the first time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated “Domestic Violent Extremism” as a National Priority Area within the Department’s Homeland Security Grant Program, which means that over $77 million will be allocated to state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic violent extremism.

In response to this threat, the McCain Institute established the Preventing Targeted Violence program, which facilitated 104 student innovation projects, developed a Prevention Practitioners Network, launched a national SCREEN Hate campaign to raise awareness of online hate, and crafted a comprehensive Policy Blueprint to End White Supremacist Violence. Over the past two years, the PTV program has grown into one of the McCain Institute’s most notable programs. 

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conducted to disseminate recommendations from the Policy Blueprint to End White Supremacist Violence

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in the Prevention Practitioner Network’s workshops and symposia

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of Prevention Practitioner workshop and symposium video recordings

The Growing impact of I2P

The I2P program is rapidly expanding, both in the United States and abroad. Since the program’s launch in the United States in spring 2021, 77 collegiate programs and 27 high school pilot programs have participated in peer-to-peer competitions. To date, this I2P participation has included three HBCUs, 11 universities serving majority Black and brown populations, and 35 total U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia. Three university teams in the U.K. and six university teams in France have also participated in I2P programs adapted to their local context.

Demand for I2P programming at the high school level in the U.S. has skyrocketed, with rapid one-year growth from the initial 10 pilot schools to the current 37 schools participating in the Fall 2022 semester program. Demand remains steady at the collegiate level, with 25 universities in the U.S. and three universities in France competing this fall.

In June 2022, the top three university and top three high school teams in the U.S. gathered in Washington D.C. to compete for cash awards, education scholarships, and invitations to participate in our year-long sustainment program. In September 2022, the top two teams from the U.K.’s and France’s I2P programs convened for a first-ever bilateral summit in which each team presented their projects to a panel of judges.

I2P student projects often sustain and scale beyond the semester competition. Seven U.S. universities have participated in the optional year-long sustainment program, which provides mentorship and assistance in scaling and sustaining their I2P projects. Two sustainment teams successfully competed for DHS funding through the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention grant program. The team from Lewis University was awarded $157,707 for its How2INFORM(H2i) project which supports media literacy training in classrooms. Arizona State University was awarded $659,327 to collaborate with the Middlebury Institute for International Studies team to continue their “Diverting Hate” project that aims to disrupt involuntary celibate (“incel”) radicalization on-ramps on Twitter.

The Expansion of PPN

The Prevention Practitioners Network (PPN) – a national network of interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to preventing targeted violence, terrorism and their impacts within the United States – has expanded to include over 875 members who have participated in our online workshops, attended symposia, and leveraged our resources.

We hosted a symposium in March and July 2022 for practitioners and professionals to address threat assessment and management, as well as early prevention through education. We had a combined total of 564 registrants for these events. Since spring, we have seen over 250 downloads of our practice and intervention guides and other published resources and our online workshops and symposia discussions have garnered over 3,000 views on YouTube and website.

In September, we officially launched our national PPN Directory via the ResilienceNet app, which can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices. The directory is an inclusive index of multi-stage violence prevention resources and clinically licensed mental and behavioral health providers. We have 80 applications from clinicians, organizations, and resources from across the United States to join our directory.

SCREEN Hate Launch

In September 2022, the McCain Institute launched SCREEN Hate – an online awareness campaign to address teens and young adults’ growing exposure to hate online. The campaign provides caregivers and concerned adults with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to keep youth safe from hateful messaging online that could incite violence. The campaign educates caregivers, concerned adults, friends, and teachers about the platforms and tactics violent extremists use to spread hate online. It also provides tips for discussing these topics with youth as well as resources for prevention and assistance. Finally, SCREEN Hate directs concerned adults to the McCain Institute’s PPN nationwide directory, which allows them to seek help if a teen or young adult is showing concerning behavior.

In the first month of the campaign, we have had 37,000 impressions and 814 unique visitors to the SCREEN Hate site.  In addition, two concerned adults reached out directly to the McCain Institute seeking help for youth in their lives after hearing about SCREEN Hate. Brette Steele and Rachel Hunkler co-authored an op-ed piece that was featured at the top of the USA Today opinion page and picked up by Yahoo News. Gray TV’s interview of Brette Steele on the campaign’s launch went out to 113 local news stations.

Combatting
Human Trafficking

From raising awareness through the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign to training law enforcement, service providers and school personnel in Arizona, our team takes a dynamic and innovative approach to building capacity and support for vulnerable populations locally, nationally and globally. The fight against modern slavery continues to be a significant priority of the McCain Institute.

Direct Action Where It Matters

International
The McCain Institute and its partners are building a vibrant global practitioners’ network of experienced human trafficking prosecutors to align on best practices for prosecuting human trafficking cases with a victim-centered approach and develop specific, targeted practical recommendations to improve the global criminal justice response to human trafficking.
Arizona
Through our Arizona CHT programs, we’ve trained over 3,900 individuals in prevention and identification of human trafficking. We are proud to partner with the Arizona Human Trafficking Council and stakeholders across the state to provide expertise and support in ongoing initiatives. In addition to the anti-human trafficking work, the Arizona program partners with the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations to provide rich, informative, and timely programming to diverse individuals and organizations with a passionate interest in national and global affairs.
U.S.
We have trained over 65,901 stakeholders to-date through specialized and scenario-based human trafficking and outreach programs. Additionally, we’ve centralized risk data for stakeholders through the Labor Data Dashboard.

Global Forced Labor Advocacy

This year, the McCain Institute increased its advocacy efforts to generate action to address forced labor in global supply chains. Building off prior engagement with G7 Leaders and Trade Ministers, the Combatting Human Trafficking program partnered with fellow anti-trafficking leaders, including the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, Humanity United, the Freedom Fund, Walk Free and others, to urge the G7 to reaffirm their commitment and take action to end forced labor in global supply chains.

Ahead of the G7 Leaders meeting in June and again before the September Trade Ministers meeting, over 20 organizations, led by the McCain Institute, urged leaders and called for specific actions, including: harmonizing minimum legal and regulatory standards, creating and strengthening mechanisms for robust information and data sharing, identifying new financial resources to address human trafficking, forced and child labor, and drafting specific language for inclusion in all future trade agreements to which a G7 member is a party prohibiting the use of forced and child labor.

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) newly released Global Estimates of Modern Slavery reiterate the need for a coordinated response to end forced labor, and the McCain Institute remains committed to leading global efforts to generate new commitment and action from the G7 and other mutli-national organizations.

Outreach to Vulnerable Populations

In partnership with the United Way of Southern Cameron County, the McCain Institute has concluded its second year of delivering specialized human trafficking trainings and providing guidance to anti-trafficking stakeholders in Cameron County, Texas.

In coordination with our Rio Grande Valley-based outreach team, the McCain Institute conducted over 610 hours of outreach this year and reached over 2,890 individuals working in agriculture, construction, fishing, and other high-risk industries. As part of this important work, our team delivered 48 Spanish-language “Know Your Rights” trainings, offering vulnerable populations and their family members a safe space to ask questions and learn more about the rights to which they are entitled.

With new figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) indicating that Mexico now registers the third highest number of refugees globally (source), the Combatting Human Trafficking team also provided trainings and capacity building opportunities to local shelter staff along the U.S.-Mexico border who work most closely with vulnerable populations and their families.

Arizona Program Collaborative Expansion and School Prevention

Training and outreach remain central components of our work in Arizona. This year, we have trained over 925 individuals, provided 1,000 labor trafficking outreach cards to day laborers in Maricopa County as part of Project ALTO, and distributed 1,450 training brochures for parents, teens, educators, and special education professionals. 

In addition to providing trainings and technical assistance, the Arizona Program received a second year of STOP funding to identify and serve minor victims of sex trafficking through expansion of the Collaborative model. We have worked with Mercy Care, the Department of Child Safety, and partners in Coconino, Mohave, Yavapai, Yuma, and Santa Cruz Counties to connect multidisciplinary stakeholders, support their anti-trafficking efforts, and gain an understanding of the resources and training needed.

Through our School Prevention project, the McCain Institute works directly with schools and youth-serving organizations to prevent child sex trafficking. Our primary prevention toolkit, created in collaboration with stakeholders from child safety, juvenile courts and probation, community services, and K-12 personnel, provides schools with actionable steps to increase safeguards for their students.

Human Rights
& Democracy

There has never been a more important time to advocate for human rights and democracy, in the United States and around the world. Our program continues to bring human rights to the forefront of conversations in Washington, D.C., and protect human rights activists around the world.

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Articles published in 2020

of the We Hold These Truths campaign platform

The McCain Institute is deeply committed to standing on the side of democracy and progress and making our voice heard in service of restoring faith in fact-based journalism, countering mis-, dis-, and mal-information (MDM), and, most importantly, defending American democracy. With the support of the Knight Foundation, the McCain Institute has launched a new program, the Defending American Democracy program, which is a series of conversations designed to advance the cause of American democracy by convening key stakeholders, engaging elected officials, and communicating with the public. We highlighted the importance of supporting local journalism to strengthen democracy;  we hosted election officials from around the country to draw attention to the pressures they face in running elections and defending democracy; and we have made the case that our national security is strongest when our democracy is protected from international interference.

The conversations and convenings continue alongside We Hold These Truths, a McCain Institute campaign where articles from Knight partners on MDM and defending democracy are regularly featured for the public in an accessible format.

Recently, a conversation with Congresswoman Liz Cheney was the fifth event in the series. Previous events have focused on the decline and disappearance of local journalism endangering our democracy, the implications of physical and verbal threats against election officials, how to protect our electoral systems and infrastructure against cyber-attacks, and how to counter hate in America today.

Human Rights Defenders

We are deeply committed to upholding freedom, democracy and universal human rights. Reflecting this commitment, our Human Rights Defenders program provides transitional assistance to human rights defenders who have been forced to flee their homes or to work underground due to harassment, intimidation or violent threats. With the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights defenders faced unprecedented challenges in operations and through magnifications of injustice. Despite travel restrictions and new threats to health and safety, the Human Rights Defenders program succeeded in supporting determined, resilient activists around the world. Since the program’s inauguration, it has proudly supported 56 defenders from 34 places, including its on-going support to Russian and Ukrainian activists involved in the fight for accountability.

“What began as a small group of activists has grown into a team of nearly 30 specialists working to prevent human rights abuses and create greater accountability for the perpetrators of international crimes. Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine has only intensified the need for this critical work and has increased the pressure felt by our team members in the field. This funding from the McCain Institute will help support our work and bring justice for more Ukrainians and victims around the world.”
Logo-Blue-Background.png
Roman Avramenko
Truth Hounds Executive Director

US Russia Foundation

We equipped Russian NGOs with tools necessary to succeed and defend their constitutional rights. Standing true to its commitment to protect the vulnerable and advance democracy, we partnered with Latvia-based Russian NGO Astraea to launch four interlinked training programs for Russian NGOs in Europe, Russia, and North America last year. These four interlinked training programs were led by ASU PI Pedro Pizano, with experts Andrea Matačić Cayley, and Fron Nahzi;  Astraea’s Victor Olenyk managed the subaward.  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February renewed the urgency in strengthening the rule of law and holding Russia accountable for its human rights violations on the international stage and we continued training NGOs and individuals. In total, we had 292 (non-unique) anonymized check-ins from 10 different NGOs to our 12 training courses delivered over 10 two-hour sessions

A post-retrospective survey was deployed in Russian among the 25 more active participants. The results were the following: 

  1. 182% average change in understanding of how to file a case with the U.S. court system
  2. 53% average change in understanding of how to file a case with the ECtHR
  3. 67% average improvement in organizational management skills
  4. 109% average improvement in developing fundraising strategies and skills.

Leadership
Programs

Committed to continuing Senator McCain’s legacy of character-driven leadership, the McCain Institute empowers individuals around the world to educate others in the Institute’s leadership curriculum.

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for the inaugural cohort of McCain Global Leaders

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Countries Represented

in the inaugural cohort of McCain Global Leaders

The McCain Global Leaders Program supports character-driven leaders from around the world who embody Senator John McCain’s legacy of serving a cause greater than oneself.  Structured as a 10-month fellowship and experiential learning experience,  the inaugural cohort will feature 26 diverse leaders from around the world who are working “in the arena” to advance democracy, human rights and freedom. The program is designed to advance each Leader’s personal and professional leadership journey and impact by providing training, resources, and access to highly relevant regional and global networks with goal of preparing today’s leaders to meet tomorrow’s challenges. The inaugural cohort will be announced later this spring.

McCain Leadership Curriculum

Over the span of 12 weeks, the leaders participated in a virtual curriculum focused on character-driven leadership.  The curriculum allowed leaders to engage each other directly as well as parallel their own leadership journey with that of Senator John McCain.  Real world case studies were conducted with experts that included Rick Davis, Michelle Bekkering, Djordje Todorovic and Jack McCain. 

Changemaker Tours

Each regional cohort of McCain Global Leaders participated in week-long study tour in a host country, focusing on the regional theme and experiences on the frontlines of various regional and global challenges.

Warsaw,
Poland

Poland
Defending Democracy by Preventing Disinformation and Extremism

In Poland, the Europe and Eurasia members of McCain Global Leaders focused on the defense of democracy and the invasion of Ukraine. Leaders met with members of parliament, the Community of Democracies, International Republican Institute, the Office of the Mayor of Warsaw as well as numerous civil society organizations and journalists. While in Poland and in partnership with the World Central Kitchen, the leaders traveled to the Ukrainian border to volunteer in support of refugees.

Johannesburg,
South Africa

South Africa
Providing Peace and Security through Understanding and Reconciliation

The leaders from Africa and MENA traveled to Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa to learn from the history of apartheid and the subsequent reconciliation process. The leaders met with U.S. Embassy Pretoria, multiple academic and civil society organizations as well as NGOs focused on democracy throughout Africa. They also toured historical locations and museums that told the story of apartheid. A particularly impactful visit to Constitutional Hill, showed the transition from apartheid to the modern-day democracy that allows for freedom and human rights.

Bogotá,
Colombia

Colombia
Approaches to Root Causes, Instability and Support to Displaced Populations

Leaders from the Western Hemisphere gathered in Bogotá and Cúcuta, Colombia to observe how the Colombian government and people have handled the large influx of refugees from Venezuela. The leaders met with Venezuelan and Colombian members of parliament, the International Republican Institute, International Justice Mission, UNHCR, local CSOs and NGOs and political observers to analyze the issue of migration in Colombia. They also traveled to the Venezuelan border to observe the situation and interact with the first line of response to refugees.

Technical Skills Building and Peer Coaching

In September, the leaders began their participation in weekly virtual programming that focuses on real world skills building in areas such as management, fundraising, communications, responding to global challenges and more. Guest speakers have included David Axelrod, Nate Mook, Ali Soufan, Djordje Todorovic and Michelle Bekkering. The leaders are also participating in peer coaching sessions, the foundation to lasting relationships within the cohort.

National Security
& Counterterrorism

The National Security & Counterterrorism Fellowship program brings together the brightest emerging leaders from the Five Eyes nations to build an enduring community of young national security professionals. In 2022, the second cohort of leaders convened for a week in London and another in Canberra.

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from four Five Eyes countries in the NSCT fellowship network

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for the 2023 cohort

NSCT Fellowship

This second cohort of fellows hails from four of the Five Eyes countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada – and brings with them a wealth of experience in national security, intelligence and counterterrorism. They join a growing network a total of 26 Fellows from across four of the Five Eyes nations.

A Week in London and Belfast

Following the initial welcome module in Washington, D.C. in November 2021, fellows convened for a week in the U.K. In London, the fellows attended private meetings with senior leadership at key government agencies, including the Home Office, the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), the Metropolitan Police, MI5 and Vauxhall. Speakers included Director General for Homeland Security Chloe Squires and National Security Director Jonathan Sinclair at the Home Office; Director General of Defense & Intelligence Thomas Drew CMG at FCDO; Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu QPM of the London Metropolitan Police; and the head of state threats as well as Director General Ken McCallum at MI5.

The fellows also engaged in discussions with premier national security scholars and experts from the private sector and media, including John and Suzanne Raine, affiliate lecturer at Cambridge University; Brunswick Senior Advisor Paddy McGuinness on crisis management; the Pool Re team working on terrorism reinsurance; and investigative foreign correspondent Washington Post London Correspondent Greg Miller. Finally, fellows had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Exhibit and the Churchill War Rooms to learn more about leadership in action across British national security history.

Midweek, the fellows flew to Belfast for a daylong briefing on the current terrorism threat in Northern Ireland. The day included a guided tour of Belfast, along with briefings on comparative case studies and how Northern Ireland’s threat landscape differs from that of Great Britain.

A Final Gathering Down Under

Fellows convened one final time as a cohort in August 2022 for a week of programing in Australia. This Australian Module was coordinated in partnership with Australian National University (ANU) National Security College. Fellows spent their first four days in Canberra, meeting with senior government officials and subject-matter experts. Some highlights include Andrew Kefford and Brendan Dowling of Home Affairs, Andrew Shearer, Director-General of National Intelligence, Mike Burgess and Chris Teal, Director-General and Deputy Director-General, respectively, of ASIO, and Paul Symon, Director-General of ASIS.

Fellows also engaged with subject matter experts in academia, including a talk on crisis management and ethical leadership by ANU Professor Mark Crosweller and a visit to the AFP forensic site with Dr. Sarah Benson, Chief Forensic Scientist. Finally, Fellows visited the Australian War Memorial to lay a wreath during the Last Post Ceremony that honors fallen Australian service members.

Fellows spent the final two days of the Australia module in Sydney. There they attended a roundtable with the AVERT Network. They also met with Sheikh Shadi Alsuleiman, President of the Australian National Imams Council and the United Muslims of Australia, as well as the Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce at AFP.

Reaffirming America's
Strategic Alliances

With a stalwart belief that strong transatlantic alliances make the world a safer place, the McCain Institute hosts two new conversation series to promote the importance of enduring relationships with America’s  alliances and to build public awareness around one of the most serious threats to democracy: mis-, dis- and mal-information.

Conversations with
Secretary Mark Esper

President Joe Biden made his first overseas trip to Europe to attend the G7, NATO and EU Summits, as well as met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The world’s eyes looked to Europe as the trip represented the United States’ potential return to a more traditional approach to its transatlantic alliances. To continue the critical work of Senator John McCain on this issue, the McCain Institute hosts a public conversation series between Dr. Mark T. Esper, the John McCain Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and experts on various issues related to challenges and threats to U.S. national security – a rising China, increasing international authoritarianism, the global plague of disinformation, etc.

Conversations With Sec. Mark Esper: Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

NATO Series

NATO and its members are facing a growing threat in the form of Mis-, Dis-, and Mal-information (MDM) campaigns that can be traced back to authoritarian regimes and their proxies. Much of this “weaponized” information seems aimed at weakening confidence in member governments and in the alliance itself. While Russia poses the most immediate threat, China and others are also engaged in these antidemocratic campaigns. One important step in countering MDM is measuring the public’s awareness of the threat. This is difficult because efforts are increasingly sophisticated, subtle, and coordinated. To counter this threat, NATO and its members must measure and build public awareness of MDM and clearly communicate NATO objectives especially younger populations in NATO member states.

Below are the third and fourth installments in a four-part series of conversations covering NATO and building public awareness of mis-, dis- & mal-information.

Part III: NATO & China: Has a European War Changed NATO’s Approach to China?
Part IV: A 21st Century Iron Curtain? Looking at the Future of NATO

These events are funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State – NATO Mission. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

Fellows

The Institute was privileged to welcome Secretary Mark T. Esper, former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army, as the inaugural John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow. We are equally honored to announce the Honorable Julie Bishop, former Foreign Minister of Australia as the 2021 Kissinger Fellow.

External Communications

Our programs and leadership initiatives are delivering real, tangible results – not just in Arizona and Washington, DC, but throughout the country and the world. Using social media and a new strategy of media engagement, we are continuing the conversations of the ideas and causes Senator John McCain dedicated his life to serving.

Media & Social Media Outreach

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*Data from May – October 2022.

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*Data from February – October 2022.

Events & Forums

At the core of our strategy is constructive engagement and convening experts. By hosting forums and events that assemble subject-matter experts, we can better promote our values through solution-oriented and substantive conversations. The  Coronavirus Pandemic provided us the opportunity to pivot and create virtual content that helped make these in-depth conversations more accessible.

Tbilisi Conference

The McCain Institute at Arizona State University, the George W. Bush Institute and the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) hosted the 2022 Tbilisi Conference in Georgia. This year’s international conference “Slava Ukraini” focused on Ukraine. Experts, leaders and policymakers from the United States and Europe held high-level discussions about Ukraine and Georgia, the future of NATO and the EU, and democracy in general, given ongoing Russian military aggression and disinformation.

Why North Macedonia Should Join the European Union Next and Why it Matters

We hosted a conversation focused on the efforts to bring the newest NATO member, North Macedonia, into the European Union.

The discussion featured Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia Bojan Marichic, U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes and McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas. The conversation was moderated by McCain Institute Human Rights & Democracy Program Director Paul Fagan.

The discourse centered around North Macedonia’s position as a helpful partner of both the United States and NATO, and as a target for Russian and third-party disinformation campaigns. All the panelists praised the growth of North Macedonia’s democratic institutions and commitment to maintaining that progress.

The timing of this event comes just after the six-month mark of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has raised alarms in many former Eastern Bloc states including North Macedonia.

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