International Affairs Events

Getting Downtown: International Affairs Events

Septemeber 16th – September 20th

One of the greatest advantages of living in Washington, DC is having unparalleled access to high-quality events hosted by the nation’s leading public, private, and non-profit organizations.

The “Getting Downtown” newsletter is a curated list of events that might be of interest for international affairs-focused students and young professionals living in DC.  Please, feel free to share this list of events with anyone that may be interested and subscribe here to continue getting weekly lists of events!

I encourage all of you to get downtown to events and panel discussions as much as you can. These events are thought-provoking and also provide great opportunities to connect with senior and mid-level professionals.

All the best,
Dr. Paul R. Williams
Rebecca I. Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations
American University

Monday, September 16th

A Changing Ethiopia: The Puzzle of Ethiopian Politics

Time: 10am – 12pm
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW
Information: How did a group with its origins in a small Marxist-Leninist insurgency in northern Ethiopia transform itself into a ruling political party with eight million members and a hierarchy that links even the smallest Ethiopian village to the center? How do the legacies of protracted civil war and rebel victory over the brutal Derg military regime continue to shape contemporary Ethiopian politics? And can the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, after widespread protests and a state of emergency, transform itself under new leadership to meet popular demands?
During this crucial period of reform and uncertainty in Ethiopia, join Dr. Terrence Lyons, author of a new book, The Puzzle of Ethiopian Politics, in conversation with the U.S. Institute of Peace, to discuss how the very structures that enabled Ethiopia’s ruling party to overcome the challenges of a war-to-peace transition are the very source of the problems that it faces now.
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African Americans and Africa: A New History

Time: 4pm – 5:30pm
Location: Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 6th Floor
Information: African Americans and Africa: A New History serves as an introduction to the relationship between African Americans and Africa from the era of slavery to the present, mapping several overlapping diasporas. It examines the long-standing relationship between African Americans and the continent of Africa, exploring the many ways black Americans have engaged/engage with Africa. The diversity of African American identities through interactions with region, ethnicity, slavery, and immigration are all examined to investigate questions about why the African American gaze has persistently turned to Africa, and what that has meant for relationships between African Americans and Africans.
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A Different Face of Terror: Comparing and Contrasting Domestic Violent Extremism with International Terrorism

Time: 1pm – 3:30pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor
Information: Recent attacks in the United States, including at the El Paso Walmart and Pittsburgh synagogue, have raised concerns about the threat from domestic extremist groups. The Defending Democratic Institutions Project (DDI) and the Transnational Threats Project (TNT) invite you for a timely conversation to consider the appropriate application of international terrorism laws, policies, and lessons to domestic violent extremism.
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Tuesday, September 17th

Japan, Taiwan, and the Future of “America First” Trade Policy

Time: 10am – 11:30am
Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW
Information: Under the “America First” banner, President Trump has promised a reset of U.S. trade policy, focusing heavily on negotiating a string of bilateral trade agreements. For trade-dependent economies in Asia with close ties to the United States, like Japan and Taiwan, this moment of disruption in international trade presents both risks and opportunities. The U.S.-China trade war and the increasing bifurcation of high-tech platforms present major challenges for the Japanese and Taiwanese economies, both at the center of global supply chains and with advanced technological capabilities. On the other hand, a bilateral trade agreement with the United States offers a chance to leave behind market access irritants and deepen bilateral ties.
Japan and Taiwan, however, are not starting at the same place. Japan has concluded two mega trade agreements and has just come to a preliminary agreement on a trade deal with the U.S., while Taiwan is interested in launching negotiations to ameliorate its economic and diplomatic isolation. What challenges must be overcome to forge a trade agreement? Can the U.S. articulate an effective bilateral trade strategy in Asia?
On Tuesday, September 17, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings, the U.S.-Japan Research Institute, and the Global Taiwan Institute will co-host a panel of experts to discuss these issues. Panelists will also examine how Japan and Taiwan have weathered the tariff trade war and how they can prepare themselves for a protracted U.S.-China economic conflict.
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New Technologies and Nuclear Risk

Time: 9:30am – 12:15pm
Location: 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW
Information: The proliferation of new technologies threatens to increase the risks of nuclear use. Join us to discuss two of those risks—precision-strike weapons in the hands of U.S. allies and artificial intelligence—explored in recent studies funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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Market Outlook: Risks and Opportunities in the Gulf and Middle East 

Time: 12:30pm – 1:45pm
Location: SAIS, Room 714, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Information: Dr Adel Zaid Altoraifi was the Minister of Culture for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2017 and member of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. He participated in the development of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision and the 2020 National Transformation Plan and chaired the media campaign to promote these programmes. Dr Adel also chaired the media committee for the 2016 and 2017 government budget announcements and served as a member of the Security and Political Affairs Council.
Dr Adel is a journalist and a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, focusing on Saudi-Iranian relations and foreign policy decision-making in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. He is a board member of the General Authority for Culture in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, and is the chairman of Conrad Holdings Ltd.
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Wednesday, September 18th

Argentina in Crisis: A Conversation with Juan Manuel Urtubey

Time: 9am – 10am
Location: Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 4th Floor
Information: *The seminar will be in Spanish without simultaneous translation.
Argentina finds itself under severe financial stress following the unexpected results of the August 11 presidential primaries, which raised serious questions about President Mauricio Macri’s reelection prospects. The strong performance by Frente de Todos candidate Alberto Fernández provoked enormous pressure on the peso, depleting foreign exchange reserves amidst rampant capital flight and worsening inflation. Mr. Macri, Mr. Fernández and former Finance Minister Roberto Lavagna will compete in Argentina’s October 27 elections.
Even before the primaries, Argentina was suffering from a deep recession and operating under the strict supervision of the International Monetary Fund, which last year agreed to provide a $56 billion loan – the largest in its history. Now, the political uncertainty has the country teetering.
The governor of Salta province, Juan Manuel Urtubey, is Mr. Lavagna’s running mate and one of Argentina’s best-known political figures. He is a leader in Peronism’s moderate wing and an insightful observer of the country’s political, economic and social challenges.
Please join us on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 9 a.m. to hear Mr. Urtubey’s analysis of Argentina’s economic struggles and his vision for the country’s future in advance of this year’s high-stakes elections.
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Russia- Iran Relations: Agreements and Disagreements

Time: 9am – 10:30am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor C
Information: At the June 2019 Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, when the Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, he remarked that the relations between the two countries were “multifaceted” and “multilateral.” The two countries have continued developing their ties despite tightened sanctions. What are the main economic and political drivers of Russia-Iran cooperation? Are there any irreconcilable differences between the two and where does Iran fit in U.S.-Russia relations?
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Resolve 2019 Global Forum

Time: 9am – 5pm
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW
Information: Despite progress in countering violent extremism, it still poses challenges that have grown more lethal and complex as new actors and conflicts arise. To face these emerging trends, policymakers and practitioners require global insights—grounded in research—into sources of resilience and vulnerability. The annual RESOLVE Global Forum will bring together top scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to reflect on past efforts, explore prevailing myths, and discuss strategies to recalibrate the way forward in addressing violent extremism.
RESOLVE’s mission is to provide insights into violent extremism around the world, elevate local voices and analysis, and increase connectivity between research, policy, and practice. The rise in violent extremism globally lends urgency to reflect on and highlight successful approaches, refocus research and practice, and find areas for collaboration.
The full-day public event, which features a series of panel discussions and TED Talk-style presentations with leading experts, will aim to reset priorities and understand the contemporary challenges to countering violent extremism.
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Thursday, September 19th

Unpacking Perceptions and Attitudes: Arabs on the Economy, Women’s Leadership and Youth 

Time: 10am – 11:30am
Location: Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 5th Floor
Information: On September 19th, the Wilson Center will be hosting a panel discussion of the Arab Barometer’s 2019 Surveys of the Arab world focused on perceptions and attitudes towards the economy, women’s leadership and youth.
The Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network that provides insights into the social, political, and economic attitudes and values of ordinary citizens across the Arab world, has been conducting rigorous, and nationally representative face-to-face public opinion surveys on probability samples of the regional adult populations since 2006. This year, the Arab Barometer has conducted 50 national surveys over five waves including more than 70,000 interviews in 15 Arab countries.
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Reintegrating Taliban Fighters in Afghanistan

Time: 11am – 12:30pm
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW
Information: Even with an agreement between the United States and the Taliban possibly imminent, an intra-Afghan peace process will still need to address many critical challenges—including the reintegration of former fighters and their families. Life in a post-settlement Afghanistan could involve an estimated 60,000 full-time Taliban fighters returning to civilian life. There may also be efforts to demobilize other armed groups that have been fighting the Taliban. And if ex-combatants are not accepted by their communities or are unable to find a new livelihood, they may be vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups or terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.
To address this vital but often overlooked issue and assist U.S. policymakers and agencies as they craft an approach to reintegration, the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has produced the agency’s seventh “Lessons Learned” program report.
Please join USIP and SIGAR for the official launch of “Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan.” The event will include a keynote address by Special Inspector General John Sopko, followed by a panel discussion on the report’s findings and recommendations—both for the ongoing insurgency and for a post-settlement Afghanistan.
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Curative Violence: How to Inhabit the Time Machine with Disability

Time: 2pm – 4pm
Location: Elliot School of International Affairs, 1957 E St NW, Room 505
Information: Presenting from her book, Curative Violence (2017), Kim will examine a direct link between cure and violence that appears in the representations of disability and Cold War imperialism in South Korea. She explores the notion of “folded time” in which the present disappears through the imperative of cure in the case of Hansen’s disease care. By thinking about the imperative of cure as a time machine that seeks to take us to the past and to the future by universalizing disability experiences and denying coevalness, Kim explores the possibility of inhabiting in the present with disability and illness. While calling attention to the transnational construction of disability under militarism and imperialism, Kim argues that the possibility of life with disability that is free from violence depends on the creation of a space and time where cure is understood as a negotiation rather than a necessity. In addition, Kim will introduce her work in progress on “necro-activism,” emerging in the form of persistent involvements of dead bodies and presences-other-than-human as important agents for making claims for justice.
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Friday, September 20th

Investing in Climate Action

Time: 9am –  10am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor B
Information: Just days ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, join us for a discussion on stepping up climate action, unlocking investments, and how governments and the private sector can cooperate to make progress on these goals.
Dan Jørgensen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, will provide introductory remarks on what government leadership on this agenda can look like.  Following these remarks, Mr. Jørgensen will sit down with Sarah Ladislaw (CSIS) to discuss the progress and potential of green finance, further actions needed to unlock investments at the scale required, and what private investors are doing to deliver on their commitments.
More speakers to be announced.
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The Future of Afghanistan: Maintaining Peace (If it Comes)

Time: 2:30pm – 4pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW
Information: What comes next from economic development and governance perspectives? How do we move beyond foreign aid and security cooperation driven paradigms to one that focuses on private sector growth and new investments in promising sectors? Robust policies accepted at the national and local levels, good governance, women’s empowerment, tangible demonstrations of continued security, and other changes will be critical to building upon any eventual peace agreement. And that peace agreement, if it comes, will only be worth the paper on which it was written should Afghanistan be unable to move into a new, more sustainable chapter in its history.
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Red Sea Rivalries: Middle East Competition in the Horn of Africa

Time: 10:30am – 12pm
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW
Information: As part of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s ongoing “Red Sea Rising” multi-track initiative, please join us for the release of the International Crisis Group’s forthcoming report unpacking the regional goals, motivations, and often conflicting aims of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
The report, based on conversations with senior officials on both sides of the Red Sea, examines how outside forces are jockeying to build political influence and carve out pivotal positions in the Horn of Africa’s emerging economy. At this historic juncture for the region, Crisis Group researchers will present the report’s main findings, followed by a panel discussion with experts from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
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