Working Group Series

The Human Rights & Democracy Program regularly hosts a series of working groups focused on several topical areas. These meetings, held monthly, are used to convene high level groups of experts on a certain topic to hold closed-door discussions about problems and solutions that affect foreign policy today.

Human Rights & Democracy Working Group

This working group is a nonpartisan initiative that brings together experts and activists from NGOs, previous Democratic and Republican administrations, and Capitol Hill in an effort to elevate human rights and democracy issues in U.S. foreign policy. First convened by the McCain Institute in 2015 to provide recommendations on human rights and democracy to various presidential candidates, these days the group offers recommendations to Congressional leaders and administration officials. Recent sessions have focused on North Korea, Iran, China, the refugee crisis and global press freedom.

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Russia Working Group

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is moving aggressively to threaten both democracy and stability in many parts of the world. We have seen Moscow trying to disrupt democratic discourse in the U.S. and Europe, perpetuate tyranny and conflict in Syria, undermine democracy and economic independence in neighbors like Ukraine, and support illegitimate regimes in places like Venezuela and Cuba. The Russia Working Group convenes high level discussions among senior American policymakers and thought leaders together with their European counterparts to share ideas on how the West can best respond to Russia’s continued aggression. Recent sessions have discussed Putin’s constitutional referendum, Russian ties to the Taliban and the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict.

America’s Alliance Working Group

The McCain Institute believes that America alone is an America diminished – that our strategic alliances are an irreplaceable source of strength for American leadership on the world stage. While many of these alliances were created for purposes of collective security, they also serve our international economic, democratic, and humanitarian interests. Even though minor disputes and disagreements have occasionally arisen over the years amongst alliance members, few observers have seriously questioned the value of these alliances or our commitment to them. There is evidence that’s beginning to change. The America’s Alliances Working Group of thought leaders from the U.S. and key allies will explore various issues confronting our alliances, and work on ways to effectively address them. It will also develop strategies for reaffirming the importance of our alliances in the minds of both lawmakers and the public.

Working Group on Great Power Competition

This working group focuses on countering China’s malign influence around the globe. This group’s inaugural meeting was centered on framing the main issues of China’s aggressive foreign policy and featured speakers from prominent U.S.-based NGOs, former heads of U.S. Federal departments and agencies, and experienced activists who have dealt directly with Chinese foreign aggression. Moving forward, this group will continue to address how U.S. policy should tackle this issue.