What is the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace?


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) is a nonpartisan international affairs think tank headquartered in Washington D.C., with operations in Europe, South and East Asia, and the Middle East as well as the United States. Founded in 1910 by Andrew Carnegie, the organisation describes itself as being dedicated to advancing cooperation between countries, reducing global conflict, and promoting active international engagement between the United States and countries around the world. It engages leaders from multiple sectors and across the political spectrum.

In the University of Pennsylvania’s “2019 Global Go To Think Tanks Report”, Carnegie was ranked the number 1 top think tank in the world. In the 2015 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, Carnegie was ranked the third most influential think tank in the world, after the Brookings Institution and Chatham House. It was ranked as the top Independent Think Tank in 2018.

Its headquarters building, prominently located on the Embassy Row section of Massachusetts Avenue, was completed in 1989 on a design by architecture firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls.

The chairperson of Carnegie’s board of trustees is former US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and the organisation’s president is former California Supreme Court justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who replaced CIA Director William J. Burns in 2021.

Organisational History


Andrew Carnegie, like other leading internationalists of his day, believed that war could be eliminated by stronger international laws and organisations. “I am drawn more to this cause than to any,” he wrote in 1907. Carnegie’s single largest commitment in this field was his creation of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

On his seventy-fifth birthday, 25 November 1910, Andrew Carnegie announced the establishment of the Endowment with a gift of $10 million worth of first mortgage bonds, paying a 5% rate of interest. The interest income generated from these bonds was to be used to fund a new think tank dedicated to advancing the cause of world peace. In his deed of gift, presented in Washington on 14 December 1910, Carnegie charged trustees to use the fund to “hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization”, and he gave his trustees “the widest discretion as to the measures and policy they shall from time to time adopt” in carrying out the purpose of the fund.

Carnegie chose long-time adviser Elihu Root, senator from New York and former Secretary of War and of State, to be the Endowment’s first president. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912, Root served until 1925. Founder trustees included Harvard University president Charles William Eliot, philanthropist Robert S. Brookings, former US Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph Hodges Choate, former secretary of state John W. Foster, and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching president Henry Smith Pritchett.

The First Fifty Years (1910 to 1960)

At the outset of America’s involvement in World War I in 1917, the Carnegie Endowment trustees unanimously declared, “the most effective means of promoting durable international peace is to prosecute the war against the Imperial Government of Germany to final victory for democracy.” In December 1918, Carnegie Endowment Secretary James Brown Scott and four other Endowment personnel, including James T. Shotwell, sailed with President Woodrow Wilson on the USS George Washington to join the peace talks in France.

Carnegie is often remembered for having built Carnegie libraries. They were funded by other Carnegie trusts. However, the Endowment built libraries in Belgium, France, and Serbia in three cities which had been badly damaged in the war. In addition, in 1918, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) began to support library special collections on international issues through its International Mind Alcove programme, which aimed to foster a more global perspective among the public in the United States and other countries. The Endowment concluded its support for this programme in 1958.

On 14 July 1923, the Hague Academy of International Law, an initiative of the Endowment, was formally opened in the Peace Palace at The Hague. The Peace Palace had been built by the Carnegie Foundation (Netherlands) in 1913 to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a library of international law.

In 1925, Nicholas Murray Butler succeeded Elihu Root as president of the Endowment. In December of the same year, the endowment’s Board approved a proposal by President Butler to offer aid in modernizing the Vatican Library. From 1926 to 1939 the Carnegie Endowment expended some $200,000 on the endeavour. For his work, including his involvement with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Butler was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

In November 1944, the Carnegie Endowment published Raphael Lemkin’s Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation – Analysis of Government – Proposals for Redress. The work was the first to bring the word genocide into the global lexicon. In April 1945, James T. Shotwell, director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Division of Economics and History, served as chairman of the semi-official consultants to the US delegation at the San Francisco conference to draw up the United Nations Charter. As chairman, Shotwell pushed for an amendment to establish a permanent United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which exists to this day.

In December 1945, Butler stepped down after twenty years as president and chairman of the board of trustees. Butler was the last living member of the original board selected by Andrew Carnegie in 1910. John Foster Dulles was elected to succeed Butler as chairman of the board of trustees, where he served until fellow board member Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president of the US in 1952 and appointed Dulles Secretary of State.

In 1946, Alger Hiss succeeded Butler as president of the Endowment but resigned in 1949 after being denounced as a spy for the Soviet Union by Whittaker Chambers. Hiss was replaced in the interim by James T. Shotwell.

In 1947, the Carnegie Endowment’s headquarters were moved closer to the United Nations in New York City, while the Washington office at Peter Parker House (700 Jackson Pl., NW) became a subsidiary branch.

In 1950, the Endowment board of trustees appointed Joseph E. Johnson, a historian and former State Department official, to take the helm.

The Cold War Years (1960 to 1990)

In 1963, the Carnegie Endowment reconstituted its International Law Programme in order to address several emerging international issues: the increase in significance and impact of international organisations; the technological revolution that facilitated the production of new military weaponry; the spread of Communism; the surge in newly independent states; and the challenges of new forms of economic activity, including global corporations and intergovernmental associations. The programme resulted in the New York-based Study Group on the United Nations and the International Organisation Study Group at the European Centre in Geneva. In 1970, Thomas L. Hughes became the sixth president of the Carnegie Endowment. Hughes moved the Endowment’s headquarters from New York to Washington, D.C., and closed the Endowment’s European Centre in Geneva.

The Carnegie Endowment acquired full ownership of Foreign Policy magazine in the spring of 1978. The Endowment published Foreign Policy for 30 years, moving it from a quarterly academic journal to a bi-monthly glossy covering the nexus of globalisation and international policy. The magazine was sold to The Washington Post in 2008.

In 1981, Carnegie Endowment Associate Fred Bergsten co-founded the Institute for International Economics – today known as the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Citing the growing danger of a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan, Thomas L. Hughes formed an eighteen-member Task Force on Non-Proliferation and South Asian Security to propose methods for reducing the growing nuclear tensions on the subcontinent. In 1989, two former Carnegie associates, Barry Blechman and Michael Krepon, founded the Henry L. Stimson Centre.

After the Cold War (1990 to 2000)

In 1991, Morton Abramowitz was named the seventh president of the Endowment. Abramowitz, previously a State Department official, focused the Endowment’s attention on Russia in the post-Soviet era. In this spirit, the Carnegie Endowment opened the Carnegie Moscow Centre in 1994 as a home of Russian scholar-commentators.

Jessica Mathews joined the Carnegie Endowment as its eighth president in May 1997. Under her leadership, Carnegie’s goal was to become the first multinational/global think tank.

In 2000, Mathews announced the creation of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) headed by Demetrios Papademetriou which became the first stand-alone think tank concerned with international migration.

The Global Think Tank (2000 to Present)

As first laid out with the Global Vision in 2007, the Carnegie Endowment aspired to be the first global think tank. Mathews said that her aim was to make Carnegie the place that brings what the world thinks into thinking about US policy and to communicate that thinking to a global audience. During Mathews’ tenure as president, the Carnegie Endowment launched the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut (2006), Carnegie Europe in Brussels (2007), and the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre at the Tsinghua University in Beijing (2010). Additionally, in partnership with the al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Carnegie established the Al-Farabi Carnegie Programme on Central Asia in Kazakhstan in late 2011.

In April 2016, the sixth international Centre, Carnegie India, opened in New Delhi.

In February 2015, Mathews stepped down as president after 18 years. William J. Burns, former US deputy secretary of state, became Carnegie’s ninth president. After Burns’ nomination and confirmation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, then-California Supreme Court Justice and Stanford professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar became President of the Carnegie Endowment on 01 November 2021.

In April 2022, the Carnegie Endowment was compelled to close its Moscow centre at the direction of the Russian government.

In April 2023 Russia’s Ministry of Justice added the Centre to the so-called list of “foreign agent”

Carnegie Global Centres

Carnegie Endowment Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Carnegie Endowment office in Washington, D.C., is home to ten programs: Africa; American Statecraft; Asia; Democracy, Conflict, and Governance; Europe; Global Order and Institutions; Middle East; Nuclear Policy; Russia and Eurasia; South Asia; Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics; and Technology and International Affairs.

Carnegie Moscow Centre

In 1993, the Endowment launched the Carnegie Moscow Centre, with the belief that “in today’s world a think tank whose mission is to contribute to global security, stability, and prosperity requires a permanent presence and a multinational outlook at the core of its operations.”

The centre’s stated goals were to embody and promote the concepts of disinterested social science research and the dissemination of its results in post-Soviet Russia and Eurasia; to provide a free and open forum for the discussion and debate of critical national, regional and global issues; and to further cooperation and strengthen relations between Russia and the United States by explaining the interests, objectives and policies of each. From 2006 until December 2008, the centre was led by former Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller. The centre was headed by Dmitri Trenin until its closing in April 2022.

Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Centre

The Carnegie Middle East Centre was established in Beirut, Lebanon, in November 2006. The centre aims to better inform the process of political change in the Arab Middle East and deepen understanding of the complex economic and security issues that affect it. As of 2016, the current director of the centre is Maha Yahya. In October 2020, it was renamed the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Centre in honour of scholar Malcolm H. Kerr.

Carnegie Europe

Founded in 2007 by Fabrice Pothier, Carnegie Europe is the European centre of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From its newly expanded presence in Brussels, Carnegie Europe combines the work of its research platform with the fresh perspectives of Carnegie’s centres in Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and Beirut, bringing a unique global vision to the European policy community. Through publications, articles, seminars, and private consultations, Carnegie Europe aims to foster new thinking on the daunting international challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy

The Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy was established at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2010. The centre’s focuses include China’s foreign relations; international economics and trade; climate change and energy; non-proliferation and arms control; and other global and regional security issues such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

Carnegie India

In April 2016, Carnegie India opened in New Delhi, India. The centre’s focuses include the political economy of reform in India, foreign and security policy, and the role of innovation and technology in India’s internal transformation and international relations.

Carnegie Russia Eurasia Centre

In April 2023, the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Centre opened in Berlin, Germany. The centre focuses on major policy challenges across the wider region in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is home to the digital publication Carnegie Politika.

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