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Paula J. Dobriansky

Paula J. Dobriansky

Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project



Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky, a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs, is a Senior Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard University’s JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  She was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters from 2010-2012.  In this position, she was responsible for designing and implementing corporate strategy in Washington, DC and other key capitals around the globe.  She also held the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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

In February 2007, as the President's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Dr. Dobriansky contributed to the historic devolution of power in Belfast. For her leadership, she received the Secretary of State's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. From 1997-2001, Dr. Dobriansky served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations.  She was also the Council's first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

During her more than 25 years in national security affairs, she has held many Senate-confirmed and senior level government appointments 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, she served on the Presidentially-appointed U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Dr. Dobriansky received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude in International Politics from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an 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 and 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.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Dobriansky is a Trustee of the Trilateral Commission and on the Board of Visitors of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.  Previous boards have included the World Affairs Councils of America (Chair), Western NIS Enterprise Fund, National Endowment for Democracy (Vice Chair), and George Mason University Board of Visitors.  She has lectured and published articles, book chapters, and op-ed pieces on foreign affairs-related topics.  For three years, she hosted Freedom's Challenge and co-hosted Worldwise, the international affairs programs on National Empowerment Television.  She has been interviewed widely on television and radio and has testified frequently before the Senate Foreign Relations and House International Relations Committees.



By Date



March 29, 2015

"Russia's grab for its neighbors"

Op-Ed, 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, 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, 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."



AP Photo

April 17, 2009

"Polar Diplomacy"

Op-Ed, Washington Times

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

"The Antarctic Treaty's unique diplomatic framework furnishes a compelling template for international partnerships on other pressing security, economic and environmental challenges. The experience gained under this treaty provides valuable lessons beyond Antarctica for other international cooperative security and environmental efforts."

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.