The Richard C. Holbrooke Forum for the Study of Diplomacy and Governance was established in 2013 as a remembrance of the American Academy in Berlin’s founder and his lifelong commitment to applying the tools of diplomacy and statecraft to solving some of the world’s most intractable problems.
The Forum is the American Academy’s principal forum for the debate on international public-policy issues. It aims at bringing together some of the finest thinkers and practitioners of global affairs to engage in in-depth exchange, and to find answers to both pressing issues of the day and the underlying, structural challenges the international community and the transatlantic partners are facing.
Building on the intellectual capital of the American Academy, the Forum uses a variety of formats to conduct its work. Interdisciplinary working groups—comprised of experts including legal scholars, policymakers, political scientists, historians, and members of government—discuss topics of current and future global import. Distinguished Visitors at the American Academy present some of the best thinking in their respective public-policy fields to audiences at the Hans Arnhold Center. Small seminars and workshops convene informally to formulate and test ideas for new, and better, policies.
The work in these formats is informed and inspired by what we call the Holbrooke Method: a relentless, unconventional, forceful, highly demanding intellectual pursuit of political possibilities in a world that needs new solutions for complex challenges.
The results of these activities are published and circulated by the American Academy in Berlin on a variety of media platforms as well as through papers presented to governments and decision-makers.
The Holbrooke Forum’s work is organized in three interrelated thematic clusters:
I. Migration, Integration, Refugees
The free movement of people is one of the pillars on which a globalized economy rests. Yet, at the same time, war, economic hardship, terror, ethnic strife, and the effects of climate change force millions of people each year to abandon their homeland involuntarily and to seek refuge in distant places. Taken together, refugees, migration, and integration have become a key global challenge.
II. Technology and Diplomacy
The technological revolution is in the process of rapidly uprooting the way we live, work, learn, communicate – and conduct politics and diplomacy. From the future of truth in a world full of echo chambers to global networks that supplant old power structures to the way democracy can survive in the era of hyper-participation, technology is perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of public affairs today.
III. The Future of Conflict and War
A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the question of how to create and maintain order in a world riddled with conflict remains a fateful one for people around the globe. What will conflicts look like in a fully globalized, digitalized world? What is the nature of power, and how can it be used to provide stability, security, freedom, and prosperity? What toolbox will political leaders, diplomats, and soldiers need in the world of tomorrow?
From November 5-7, 2017, the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum held a seminar in Tallinn, Estonia, as part of its ongoing Digital Diplomacy Project. In cooperation with the Tallinn-based International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), participants conducted a deep- dive into the question of how the unfolding IT revolution will impact international affairs, diplomacy, statecraft, and global order. At the center of the discussion were issues of institutional adaptation in a networked world, the revolutionary impact of blockchain technology and quantum computing, the increasingly fuzzy distinction between war and peace, and how political order will come about and be maintained in a world where classic politics loses much of its ability to bring about outcomes. The seminar will be followed up by a series of essays on the subject, published under the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum publications page, and downloadable as PDFs.
Subsequent the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum’s early October 2017 roundtable on new diplomatic and political challenges in the Balkans, Cornelius Adebahr published an article for the Holbrooke Forum outlining those challenges and the way forward for the European Union.
Subsequent the Holbrooke Forum workshop The Global Triangle, held at the American Academy on May 5, 2017, the Forum initiated a publication series, based on a few of the major themes and topics addressed. The first three essays are “Drivers of Global Change,” by Eberhard Sandschneider, “The Digital Demos,” by Ulrich Speck, and “Net Reach,” by Adam Segal.
On the evening of June 1, 2017, the Academy’s Richard C. Holbrooke Forum brought together Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, and Christoph Heusgen, chief foreign policy advisor to the German chancellor, to discuss both the foundations and the policy specifics the Atlantic security arena is facing today. Click here to watch the full discussion.
On May 5, 2017, the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum hosted a workshop entitled The Global Triangle Project: Power, Innovation, and Order in a Networked World. The workshop looked into what happens when traditional geopolitics collides with the digital revolution, and what this means for diplomacy and statecraft. It was comprised of two dozen participants from academia, the private sector, and the foreign policy community—among them the China Daily, Mercator Institute for China Studies, Chatham House, Nokia Networks, Stanford and Fudan universities, the Council on Foreign Relations, SWP, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.