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Paula J. Dobriansky

Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project




Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky is a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs. She is a Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Vice Chair of the National Executive Committee, U.S. Water Partnership.

From 2010 - 2012, Ambassador Dobriansky was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters. In this position, she was responsible for designing and implementing a corporate approach for engagement in Washington, D.C. and other key capitals around the globe.  During this time, she was also appointed as the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.

From 2001 to 2009, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs.  Among her primary accomplishments, she established and led the U.S.-India, U.S.-China, and U.S.- Brazil Global Issues Fora -- which advanced crucial work and international cooperation on environment, energy, health, development, and humanitarian issues.  Additionally, she was head of delegation and lead negotiator on U.S. climate change policy.

In February 2007, as the President's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Dobriansky received the Secretary of State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, for her contribution to the historic devolution of power in Belfast. During her more than 25 years in national security affairs, Ambassador Dobriansky has held many Senate-confirmed and senior level positions in the U.S. Government including Associate Director for Policy and Programs at the United States Information Agency, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Deputy Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 1990 Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the 1985 U.N. Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and Director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, the White House.

From 1997- 2001, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations and was the first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.  During this time, she also served on the Presidentially-appointed U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Dobriansky serves on various boards, including the Smith-Richardson Foundation, IDS International, and the Atlantic Council.  She is also a Trustee of the Trilateral Commission, on the Board of Visitors of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Chair of the Bush Center's Women's Initiative Policy Advisory Council.  Previous boards include the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, National Endowment for Democracy (Vice Chair), George Mason University Board of Visitors and the World Affairs Councils of America as Chairman of the National Board.

She received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude in International Politics from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University.  She is a Fulbright-Hays scholar, Ford and Rotary Foundation Fellow, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a recipient of various honors such as the Foreign Policy Association Medal for her service to country and leadership of the World Affairs Councils of America and the International Republican Institute's Women's Democracy Network Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award (2008).  She has received other high-level international recognition including the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, Poland's Highest Medal of Merit, Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, National Order "Star of Romania", Hungary’s Commander’s Cross Order of Merit and Ukraine’s Order of Merit.  She has also received three Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters, one Honorary Doctorate of Laws and one Honorary Doctorate of International Affairs.



By Date



(AP Photo)

April 2016

"Strengthening the Liberal World Order"


By Robert Kagan, Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project and Global Agenda Council on the United States

The world order that was created in the aftermath of World War II has produced immense benefits for peoples across the planet. The past 70 years have seen an unprecedented growth in prosperity, lifting billions out of poverty. Democratic government, once rare, has spread to over 100 nations around the world, on every continent, for people of all races and religions. And, although the period has been marked by war and suffering as well, peace among the great powers has been preserved. There has been no recurrence of the two devastating world wars of the first half of the 20th century.

NOTE: This white paper is republished with peermission from the World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The views expressed in this paper are those of the Global Agenda Council on the United States and do not necessarily represent the views of the World Economic Forum or its Members and Partners.



Bennett Craig, Belfer Center

January 4. 2016

"Putin’s anti-Obama propaganda is ugly and desperate"

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

Paula J. Dobriansky Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project and former U.S. Undersecretary of State together with David B. Rivkin Jr., constitutional lawyer who served in the Justice Department and the White House under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. discuss how in recent years racist and scatological salvos against foreign leaders have become a staple of official Russian discourse.


2015 Donaldson

November 25, 2015

"As winter approaches, looking for US leadership in Ukraine"

Op-Ed, The Hill

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

America’s interests and values align in supporting Ukraine.  U.S. support both bolsters an emerging Ukrainian democracy and demonstrates a willingness to assist vulnerable allies.  This is an opportunity for the U.S. to exercise leadership in a region of strategic and historic importance.



Wikimedia Commons

October 6, 2015

"Congress Can Respond to Putin With More Sanctions"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project and David B. Rivkin Jr.

By enacting new sanctions on Russia, U.S. lawmakers can send a strong signal to Moscow that its continued aggression against Ukraine and growing complicity in a genocidal war in Syria will come at a heavy price.



March 29, 2015

"Russia's grab for its neighbors"

Op-Ed, The Washington Times

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

A bipartisan consensus is emerging that the United States should do more to address Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine. But Russian revanchism does not begin or end with Ukraine, nor are “little green men” its only foreign policy instrument. Moscow is actively engaged in subversive activities along Europe’s eastern flank, targeting the region’s economic and political stability. As Central European capitals grow increasingly concerned, Washington urgently needs to demonstrate its robust commitment not just to the region’s security but to its democratic future.



AP Photo

February 12, 2015

Russia should be prosecuted for its crimes against humanity

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

An enduring diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis has eluded negotiators. But even if the Minsk peace talks’ newly announced cease-firewere to hold, there is widespread agreement in the West that Russia has engaged in a quasi-war in Ukraine. Moscow has acted with some circumspection, employing intelligence agents and plainclothes special forces (the so-called little green men), but in the past several months, it has become much more brazen, deploying thousands of regular troops, backed up by artillery and armor. There is also consensus that Russian activities in Ukraine are destabilizing European security and have violated numerous international legal norms.



May 23, 2014

Expose the Putin Doctrine

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

Paula Dobriansky writes that the US needs a comprehensive strategy, articulated by senior officials, to rally domestic support for countering Russian aggression.



March 6, 2014

Ukraine must wish it had kept its nukes

Op-Ed, USA Today

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

"Had Ukraine still had its 1,800 nuclear warheads, Russia wouldn't have launched its invasion of Crimea. This fact will not be lost on any aspiring nuclear state, be they rogues such as Iran, or pro-Western countries such as Japan, and could undermine the cause of nuclear non-proliferation."



AP Photo

February 2010

"Climate Change Policies: Many Paths Forward"

Policy Brief

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project and Vaughan C. Turekian

The current global economic crisis highlights the fact that environmental objectives exist in a balance with economic growth, a balance that political leaders struggle to find in their own countries and at the global level. The UNFCCC contributes importantly to achieving a healthy balance by providing an overall framework for action to address climate change and as a regular gathering point for diplomats, policymakers, and technical experts from the widest range of countries. As such, it is a unique forum for building partnerships to help countries meet their own national objectives and to forge the consensus needed for success in global efforts to address climate change. It could also help to coordinate international efforts, creating synergies, and avoiding duplication.



AP Images

January 7, 2010

"The Realist Case for Tibetan Autonomy"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project

"When President Obama didn't meet with the Dalai Lama during his October trip to Washington, it gave many the impression that human-rights promotion was not central to this administration's foreign policy. This impression needs to be promptly corrected."

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.