The World Got a C for Addressing Its Biggest Problems Last Year

How It Works
June 20 2014 4:58 PM

The World Is a C Student

179651844-in-this-handout-image-provided-by-host-photo-agency
Let's try this class again.

Photo by Iliya Pitalev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images

The Council on Foreign Relations’ International Institutions and Global Governance program has released its 2014 report card, a cute but I think effective assessment of how well international governments and institutions worked together to coordinate responses to the world’s most pressing problems.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

We didn’t do very well.

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CFR gives the world a D on climate change, a B-minus on global finance, a C-minus on nuclear nonproliferation, a B-minus on armed conflict, a C-plus on public health, and a C-plus on terrorism.

In total that’s about a 2.1 GPA. A not-so-gentlemanly C.

The CFR experts evidently don’t share Al Gore’s new optimism on the climate, singling out the United States in particular for its lack of leadership. (To be fair, the report is based on 2013, so doesn’t take into account the Obama administration’s new carbon regulations for power plants or some encouraging recent rumblings out of China.)

The C-plus on public health actually seems generous given signs that polio is making a global comeback.

I would guess that next year’s marks on armed conflict are going to be a lot lower following recent events in Ukraine, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Iraq.

The entry on terrorism, which highlights Nigeria and Iraq as countries that “failed to contain the rising threat of terrorism within their borders, and actually exacerbated sectarian instability by marginalizing minorities,” is certainly borne out by events this year.

Might be time for the world to start looking at safety schools. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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