Mission & History


The Center for International Policy promotes cooperation, transparency and accountability in global relations. Through research and advocacy, our programs address the most urgent threats to our planet: war, corruption, inequality and climate change.

CIP's scholars, journalists, activists and former government officials provide a unique mixture of access to high-level officials, issue-area expertise, media savvy and strategic vision. We work to inform the public and decision makers in the United States and in international organizations on policies to make the world more just, peaceful and sustainable.


The Center for International Policy is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Through advocacy and policy research, CIP promotes transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign policy and global relations.  We advocate policies that advance international cooperation, demilitarization, respect for human rights and action to alleviate climate change and stop illicit financial flows. Our work provides policy recommendations and analysis to decision makers in government, international organizations, the private sector and civil society.

We are Washington insiders with an outsider&rsquos agenda. CIP&rsquos mix of former senior government officials, journalists, academics and activists brings insider&rsquos access, scholarly rigor and media savvy as well as the passion and organizing skills of seasoned activists.  Our programs focus on long-term policy questions while quickly responding to breaking news. Our programs examine the policy implications of important issues, including the drug war, military budget, global financial integrity and climate change.

The Center for International Policy is effective because of:

  • Relevant research: We document foreign injustices and potential threats through first-hand, in-country research and develop policy recommendations.

  • Credibility with the media: We publicize our research and analysis through CIP publications and the mainstream and alternative media to reach policymakers and the public.

  • Expert staff: Our staff of former senior government officials, academics, journalists and activists can open doors to the most influential and powerful people in Washington.

  • Partnerships with grassroots organizations: We develop alternative foreign policy solutions and build alliances with activists and broad constituencies to pressure Congress and the executive branch to enact legislation.


The Center for International Policy (CIP) was founded in 1975, in the wake of the Vietnam War, by former diplomats and peace activists. CIP&rsquos founders wanted to build on the massive grassroots roots movements that helped end the Vietnam War and to make sure the lessons of the war were not distorted or forgotten. CIP&rsquos mix of experts from inside the government and those from outside by choice has shaped both our methodology and our agenda since our founding.

Today, our programs continue to strive to achieve advances in U.S. foreign policy that fall in line with our mission: international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for human rights.

Early programs

CIP has led or played a vital role in an impressive number of citizens' initiatives. Working closely with allies in Congress, including two members who were to become co-chairs of CIP&rsquos board, Tom Harkin and Don Fraser, CIP campaigned to make sure that a government's human rights record was a factor in allocating foreign aid.

CIP&rsquos initial regional focus was on Asia. In the late 1970s, the Indochina program promoted the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

In the 1980s, CIP staff turned its focus to Central America. Program staff became the Washington advocates for Costa Rican president Oscar Arias's peace plan for Central America. Executive director Bill Goodfellow and research director Jim Morrell ran a U.S. campaign to publicize and build public support for first the Contadora and then President Arias&rsquos peace plan, which ultimately silenced the guns in Central America.

In the 1990s, CIP attracted a number of senior diplomats to its staff and expanded its agenda to include reform of the nation's intelligence agencies. We continued to play an important role in Central America's post-conflict reconciliation, the effort to end the counter-productive isolation of Cuba, and efforts to condition military assistance to the Western Hemisphere on improvements in governance and increased respect for citizens&rsquo human rights.

This work, which continues today, has been augmented with various programs with an increasingly international focus&mdashfrom the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to illicit financial flows. Our programs have in common both their impact on human rights and national security as well as a research-based approach to public policy advocacy. CIP staff follow the money, in Washington as well as in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, for money defines policy.

Read about CIP's current program work by downloading a PDF of our latest Report to Supporters.