Belfer Center Home > People > Robert B. Zoellick

« Back to list of experts

Robert B. Zoellick

Mailing address

Not in Residence

Robert B. Zoellick

Non-resident Senior Fellow



Robert B. Zoellick is the Chairman of Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors. He serves on the boards of Temasek, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, and Laureate International Universities, as well as on the international advisory board of Rolls Royce. Zoellick is also a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the board of the Congressionally-created National Endowment for Democracy and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Zoellick was the President of the World Bank Group from 2007-12. He served in President George W. Bush's cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005 and as Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006. From 1985 to 1993, Zoellick worked at the Treasury and State departments in various capacities, including as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Under Secretary of State, as well as briefly in the White House as Deputy Chief of Staff. He was the lead U.S. negotiator in the 2 + 4 process for Germany’s unification, serving under Secretary James A. Baker III. The German Government awarded Zoellick the Knight Commanders Cross for his work on unification. The Mexican and Chilean Governments presented him their highest honors for non-citizens the Aztec Eagle and the Order of Merit, respectively. Zoellick holds a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from Swarthmore College.



By Date



Gobierno de Chile

May 17, 2016

"Trade Is a National Security Imperative"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

In an uncertain world, America's future security depends on both upgrading military capabilities and expanding economic opportunities. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade accord among 12 countries accounting for almost 40% of the global economy, draws together these two strands of strategy. But TPP has been widely criticized by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates alike and faces an uphill battle in Congress.




Monday, September 7, 2015

"China will stumble if Xi stalls on reform"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington this month could be as consequential for the world economy as then-vice premier Deng Xiaoping’s American tour of 1979.



August 21, 2015

We asked Robert Zoellick: What Should Be the Purpose of American Power?

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

My first professor of diplomatic history directed the class to study the back of the one-dollar bill. His aim was not to suggest the commercial motivations of American foreign policy, but instead to help us find the Great Seal of the United States, which is conveniently printed on the back of the dollar.




July 21 2015

"Crucial Weapons in the Defense of Ukraine"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow and Stephen Hadley

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an assault on the vision that emerged from the end of the Cold War of a Europe whole, free and at peace. For that vision to be realized, the war against Ukraine must end, and its government must be able to offer its people a secure, prosperous and democratic future. If Ukraine—a country of more than 40 million people—becomes a failed state, the turmoil will spill into the European Union and likely fuel future conflict between Russia and the trans-Atlantic community.




July 9, 2015

"How the Pacific Trade Pact Could Feed a Hungry Planet"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

With Congress granting trade-promotion authority to the Obama administration last month, negotiations for the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement should be completed soon. The 12-country Asia-Pacific talks offer an unprecedented opportunity to transform ocean and fisheries conservation.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 90% of marine fisheries in every region of the world are now significantly depleted or recovering. Chinese fleets, for example, are devastating West African fisheries because countries such as Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Guinea have weak enforcement capabilities.



U.S. Embassy The Hague

July 2, 2015

"The US should lead change with China: Robert Zoellick"

Op-Ed, Australian Financial Review

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

China's growth since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping has been incredible, writes Robert B. Zoellick in Australia's Financial Review. "Yet the internal challenges of the transformation remain tremendous, as President Xi Jinping's new structural reforms and push to revitalise the Communist Party have highlighted."



US Embassy, The Hague

June 7, 2015

"Shunning Beijing's infrastructure bank was a mistake for the US"


By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

The Obama administration’s negative response to China’s proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was a strategic mistake. Though some Chinese moves might be destabilising and require US resistance, this initiative should have been welcomed.

The US should be careful about opposing ventures that are popular and likely to proceed. Losing fights does not build confidence. Moreover, the new bank’s purpose — to develop infrastructure in Asia — is a good goal. The world economy needs more growth. Many emerging markets are eager to boost productivity and growth by lowering costs of transportation, improving energy availability, enhancing communications networks, and distributing clean water.

The AIIB offers an opportunity to strengthen the very international economic system that the US created and sustained. The AIIB’s designated leader, Jin Liqun, a former vice-president of the Asian Development Bank, sought advice in Washington. He engaged an American lawyer who was the World Bank’s leading specialist on governance. He also reached out to another American who had served as World Bank country director for China and then worked with the US embassy.

If the AIIB was indeed threatening the American-led multilateral economic order, as its opponents seemed to believe, then its Chinese founders chose a curiously open and co-operative way of doing so.



November 7, 2014

Diplomatic Lessons from the Fall of the Berlin Wall: An Interview with Robert Zoellick


By Josh Burek, Communications and Outreach Director and Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

Belfer Center Senior Fellow Robert Zoellick, chairman of Goldman Sachs' International Advisors, was the lead U.S. Negotiator in the Two Plus Four process for Germany’s unification, serving under Secretary of State James Baker. The German government awarded Zoellick the Knight Commanders Cross for his work on unification. In this Q&A with Belfer Center Director of Communications Josh Burek, Zoellick shares lessons from the fall of the wall 25 years ago and the crucial diplomacy that followed.



AP Photo

August 11, 2014

"A Presidency of Missed Opportunities"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

When President Obama assumed office, he wanted to reverse what he perceived as President Bush's overreach in foreign policy, writes Robert B. Zoellick. "He determined on withdrawal from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the risks of unraveling that we are witnessing today. Then his administration failed to offset retrenchment with a strategic initiative. In contrast, as America retreated from Vietnam, President Richard Nixon and his adviser Henry Kissinger seized the strategic initiative by opening relations with China and resetting the geopolitical chessboard to U.S. advantage."



Kris Snibbe

April 11, 2014

"Working With China on Key Issues Necessary"


By Robert B. Zoellick, Non-resident Senior Fellow

Robert Zoellick, senior fellow with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and former head of the World Bank, spoke to a crowd of about 150 as part of the Harvard University Center for the Environment’s (HUCE) “China 2035: Energy, Climate, Development” lecture series. As reported in the Harvard Gazette, “HUCE Director Daniel Schrag, the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and professor of environmental science and engineering, introduced the event, saying that it’s important to understand China because it looms so large on the world stage.”

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.