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Attacks on Hospitals from Syria to Ukraine: Improving Prevention and Accountability Mechanisms

June 14, 2022

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, it soon began implementing one of its frequent--and criminal--tactics that it had already been using in its military intervention in Syria: bombing healthcare and medical facilities. Syrian government forces first began targeting health workers in Syria in 2011 at the start of the Syria crisis, and Russia joined them in targeting the healthcare system upon its official entrance to the conflict in 2015. Over the course of the conflict, over 90 percent of 601 recorded attacks on medical facilities were attributable to either Syrian or Russian forces. In Ukraine, Russia has reportedly perpetrated more than 200 attacks on healthcare facilities and ambulances since the start of the invasion. The well-documented pattern of targeted attacks on healthcare in Syria and Ukraine undermines long-established and hard-won provisions under international humanitarian law intended to protect civilians during conflict. Despite the scale of the problem, which extends beyond Syria and Ukraine, there has been no prominent criminal prosecution of any alleged perpetrators of attacks on healthcare in any conflict, no establishment of a UN mandate dedicated to this issue, and no task force created by national governments specifically aimed at prevention of and accountability for these crimes. The international community's failure to compel meaningful action to stop the criminal practice of targeting healthcare in conflict after conflict has resulted in continued deaths of health workers and civilian populations.In a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council Strategic Litigation Project's Elise Baker and Gissou Nia, the two propose recommendations to UN bodies, the World Health Organization, national governments and other institutions and decision makers for concrete actions to prevent future attacks and advance accountability for past ones.

Do Countries Need Freedom to Achieve Prosperity? Introducing the Atlantic Council Freedom and Prosperity Indexes

May 26, 2022

The Atlantic Council's Freedom and Prosperity Center aims to increase the prosperity of the poor and marginalized in developing countries—and to explore the nature of the relationship between freedom and prosperity in both developing and developed nations. To aid in this task, this report introduces the new Atlantic Council Freedom and Prosperity Indexes.The Freedom Index measures economic, political, and legal freedom for nearly every country in the world, using the latest available data when the index was constructed at the end of 2021. The Prosperity Index measures economic wellbeing and human flourishing for the same countries and time period. In addition, we collected historical data to allow us to track and analyze change over time. We constructed the same indexes going back in five-year increments for the years 2006, 2011, and 2016; 2006 is the earliest date for which data on our indicators are available.To be sure, there are limits to any data-collection effort. The world changes quickly, and the data we collected at the end of 2021 may not still represent current realities in every case. Russia, for example, is less free today than when we collected the data, due to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and his related crackdowns at home. In addition, we needed to choose indicators that could be applied across all countries and over time, but these generalized measures may not always fit neatly with the unique circumstances in every country. Still, despite these limitations, we believe that these indexes provide new and valuable information on global freedom and prosperity.Going forward, we plan to update the indexes annually. The methodology to produce the indexes is straightforward and transparent, and is described in detail in the appendix.

Shaping the Global Future Together

May 10, 2022

The Atlantic Council has never been more robust operationally, substantively, or financially in its sixty-year history. This comes at a time when our work has never been more crucial in the face of complex, daunting, and worldwide challenges.

What are the risks and benefits of US/NATO military options in Ukraine? Our strategic risk calculator has answers

March 9, 2022

Faced with the shocking images of Russian military forces indiscriminately shelling civilians across Ukraine, Western countries are under mounting pressure to find new ways to help Ukrainians defend themselves. As the Atlantic Council's military fellows concluded in their latest assessment, Russian forces—despite seriously stumbling during their first week of combat in Ukraine—still pose a perilous threat as the Kremlin's invasion proceeds.While the Biden administration is working closely with NATO allies and European partners to respond to the invasion diplomatically and economically—as well as pledging billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine—many analysts also are advocating specific ideas for how Western leaders can "do more" to bolster Kyiv's defenses. Clearly, if the United States and its allies and partners are going to increase their support for Ukraine, it must happen immediately. But such action also must be carefully considered, and its relative benefits in terms of effectiveness must be weighed against the potential risks of escalating the conflict to a war between Russia and NATO.With that in mind, on March 3 the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security conducted a survey of thirty-seven national security experts, including a former ambassador to Russia and top NATO official, former senior officials at the US National Security Council and Defense Department, retired and active-duty military personnel, and experts across the Atlantic Council. We asked them to evaluate eleven options, all primarily military in nature, that the United States and NATO could take to strengthen Ukraine's defenses. The result is a strategic risk calculator for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic to assess the possible risks and benefits of boosting their military assistance to the Ukrainian government.

Defending every inch of NATO territory: Force posture options for strengthening deterrence in Europe

March 9, 2022

In light of Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine, the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security's Transatlantic Security Initiative convened a task force of Atlantic Council experts focused on strengthening US and NATO force posture. This Scowcroft Center Issue Brief outlines the strategic context that NATO now faces, key principles for strengthening NATO's deterrence posture, and a menu of recommended posture enhancements for the Alliance.

The Next National Defense Strategy Must Get Russia Right

February 24, 2022

The rapidly developing 2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis and ongoing invasion raises a key question for US defense policy makers as they finalize the next National Defense Strategy (NDS): How can the NDS get Russia right? This issue brief seeks to answer this question by developing a US defense strategy for deterring and managing the Russian threat in Europe and beyond, building upon the authors' 2021 report, Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy. The strategy advances three foundational pillars: 1) countering Russian gray-zone activities and taking the offensive; 2) meaningfully integrating allies and partners; and 3) adopting a more globally oriented force posture model.

Deploying Distributed Renewable Energy to Reduce the Impacts of Extreme Heat on the Urban Poor

October 20, 2021

This paper explores the potential for distributed renewable energy (DRE) to play an increased role in mitigating heat risk in large urban and peri-urban settlements via its integration into passive and active cooling solutions. 

The United States and the Gulf States: Uncertain Partners in a Changing Region

February 7, 2013

Evaluates the relationship between the United States and the Gulf states as they face democratic transitions in the Arab world as well as security challenges in the Gulf.