Richard Ponzio

Director and Senior Fellow

Transforming Conflict & Governance

Richard Ponzio is Director of the Just Security 2020 Program and a Senior Fellow at Stimson. Previously, he directed the Global Governance Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, where (in a partnership with Stimson) he served as Director for the Albright-Gambari Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance. He brings expertise in the areas of global and national democratic institution-building, global political economy, and the role of international institutions in responding to state fragility, global financial volatility, and population displacement.

Ponzio is formerly a Senior Adviser in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he conceptualized and coordinated Secretary Hillary Clinton’s and later John Kerry’s New Silk Road initiative. Earlier he served as a Senior Strategy and Policy Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, where he initiated a global network of multi/bilateral peacebuilding and stabilization organizations.

From 1999-2009, Ponzio served in a variety of senior policy and strategic planning positions for the United Nations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, and New York. From 1997-1999, he was a Visiting Fulbright Fellow at the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre in Islamabad, where his research focused on the governance-security-development nexus in South Asia.

Ponzio has published widely in academic and policy journals (including Global Governance, Foreign Policy, and Survival), edited volumes, newspapers, U.N. policy reports (including national, regional, and global Human Development Reports), and books, including Democratic Peacebuilding: Aiding Afghanistan and other Fragile States (OUP, 2011) and Human Development and Global Institutions: Evolution, Impact, and Reform (Routledge, January 2016, with Dr. Arunabha Ghosh). He serves on the board of the Academic Council on the UN System.

Ponzio completed his doctorate in politics and international relations at the University of Oxford on a Clarendon Scholarship and undertook earlier studies at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (M.A.), The Graduate Institute Geneva (M.A.) as a MacJannet Fellow, and Columbia University (B.A).

Select Publications (with latest publications following in the new format below):


Addressing global governance deficits as we approach the 75th anniversary of the United Nations

Developing practical approaches to cyber risk management with the guidance of advisors from the cyber security and broader risk management communities

Research & Writing
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Coping with New and Old Crises

Revitalizing the global governance system for charting a durable, green, and broad-based recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

75 Years On: Remaking the Case for the United Nations

Originally published in Just Security.

Policy Memo
Enhance the UN Capacity to Support Conflict Prevention

Give the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs a central role in coordinating UN knowledge in conflict prevention, especially mass atrocities, focusing on the Responsibility to Prevent principle

UN 2.0: Ten Innovations for Global Governance 75 Years beyond San Francisco

Improving prospects for a global governance architecture that is more inclusive, effective, and just during and beyond UN75

The UN-75 Declaration, a Daring Commitment for a More Perfect World

The op-ed was originally published in PassBlue.

Issue Brief
Multilateralism for Chronic Risks

With human security and planetary boundaries at risk, we must reorient multilateralism to avoid the tragedies that might befall all of humankind

Project Note
Dialogue Summary: UN75 Regional Dialogue for the Americas (20 March–26 April 2020)

An open conversation about on the future of multilateralism and its impact at the global, regional, and national levels in the Americas.

Project Note
Dialogue Summary: UN75 Regional Dialogue for Africa (30 March–10 May 2020)

An open conversation about the future of multilateralism and its impact at the global, regional, and national levels in Africa.

Policy Memo
A “G20+” to Foster Socio-Economic Recovery to COVID-19

Create a G20+ to deepen socio-economic recovery from COVID-19, through enhanced coordination by G20 members with the UN system, Bretton Woods institutions, and related bodies, supported by a new, small, full-time secretariat

Issue Brief
Reinvigorating Global Governance Through “Just Security”

2019 is an opportune moment to reflect on the current “anti-multilateralist turn” in international politics and the growing array of global problems that can only be managed multilaterally

Project Note
A Global Policy Dialogue on Global Economic Institutions

Action plan for coordination between economic institutions to avert or respond to future cross-border shocks, and to advance the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Will the UN-75 Declaration Signify More Than a Birthday Party?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres used his annual State of the World speech to the General Assembly last month to outline his 2020 priorities. He stressed four threats to progress in the 21st century: g…

Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World

Providing guidelines for improving the global governance architecture.

Global Policy Dialogue on Climate Governance: Innovating the Paris Agreement & Beyond

Collecting recommendations to tackle global policy challenges such as climate change and global security and justice.

Policy Memo
Upgrading the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission into an empowered Council

Recommendation: Create a strong UN Peacebuilding Council to replace the current Peacebuilding Commission. Similar to the transformation of the Human Rights Commission into a Council in 2006, it is time for the UN Peacebuilding Commission to be upgraded…

Issue Brief
Policy Brief #2: Enabling the Transfer of Green Technology

Some current programs do promote technology transfer and climate adaptation in the Global South, but myriad licensing and IPR laws hinder the process. To ease the transfer and implementation of green technology, the Albright-Gambari Commission rec…

Central Asia’s Growing Role in Building Peace and Regional Connectivity with Afghanistan

In its 2017 strategy for South Asia, the Trump administration called on Pakistan to reduce support for the Taliban and encourage them to enter into peace negotiations. Yet as crucial as Pakistan will be to peace in Afghanistan, a similarly persuasive a…

An Innovation Agenda for UN 75; The Albright-Gambari Commission Report and the Road to 2020

“TWENTY GLOBAL IDEAS FOR 2020” With the proliferation of advanced military and information technologies, growing ease of movement, increasing climate instability, and the rise of violent extremism, conflict and state fragility have increased since reac…

Project Note
Global Governance Innovations on the Road to 2020 explored in Boulder, Washington, Rome, The Hague, and Caux

In July, Stimson’s Just Security 2020 Program contributed to a rich set of discussions on the future of global governance, as the international community fast approaches the two-years-to-go mark for the expected Leaders Summit, in September 2020 in New…

Project Note
UN Sustaining Peace Dialogue Debrief

On April 24 the Missions of Nigeria and Canada to the United Nations, the Savannah Center for Diplomacy, Democracy, and Development (Abuja), the Instituto Igarapé (Rio de Janeiro), the Alliance for Peacebuilding (Washington, D.C.), the UN 2020 Initiati…

Project Note
The United Nations’ New “Sustaining Peace” Agenda

  On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, the Stimson Center, along with the Alliance for Peacebuilding and United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, co-hosted a “preview conversation” with leading policy-makers, practitioners, and scholars i…

Just Security in an Undergoverned World

Just Security in an Undergoverned World examines how humankind can manage global problems to achieve both security and justice in an age of antithesis. Global connectivity is increasing, visibly and invisibly-in trade, finance, culture, and inform…

The UN’s new “Sustaining Peace” Agenda: A Policy Breakthrough in the Making

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ much anticipated Report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace was recently released, in the lead-up to the U.N. General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to be held Apri…

Project Note
Emerging U.N. Sustaining Peace Effort – Experts Dialogue

2018 will be a crucial year for the United Nations in its efforts to address fundamental peace and security challenges of a rapidly changing world. Central to the 2016 peacebuilding resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council (A/RES/7…

Project Note
Launch of Human Development and Global Institutions: Evolution, Impact, Reform

On Friday, September 8 at Stimson, in an event co-sponsored with the Center for Global Development, Arunabha Ghosh (Founding CEO of the New Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment, and Water) and Richard Ponzio (Director of Stimson’s Just Security 2…

Stimson in the News
Richard Ponzio Quoted on President Trump’s Rhetoric on North Korea in UN Address

North Korea has warned that US President Donald Trump’s bellicose remarks against the Asian country and its leader will make the US mainland an “inevitable” target for rocket attacks. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho’s remarks on Satu…

Stimson in the News
Richard Ponzio Quoted On President Trump UN Speech

President Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations has drawn predictable mixed reactions. The North Korean delegation walked out as he began, leaving only a junior diplomat present. Venezuela’s foreign minister rejected “threats” from the “racist” M…

Hitting the Reset on the UN?

By Richard Ponzio and Michael Schroeder Today the U.S. president will preside over a high-level meeting on United Nations reform on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly meetings in New York.  It holds out promise for urgently needed reform…

Engaging the New Majority: US Perspectives and Experience

Over time, the United States and other wealthy governments have designed and operated institutions and bilateral programs to engage effectively the extreme ends of the global wealth spectrum. From the OECD to the G7, wealthy governments routinely gathe…

Project Note
Regional Dialogues on Sustaining Peace: Shaping UN Strategies for 2018 and Beyond

7 July 2017 – New York: The Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations, the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development, and the Stimson Center convened an informal scoping discussion at Columbia University Law School…

Mobilizing Smart Coalitions and Negotiating Global Governance Reform

Mobilizing Smart Coalitions and Negotiating Global Governance Reform Drawing lessons from three international commissions and two international campaigns since the mid-1990s, Tom Buitelaar and Richard Ponzio, Director of the Just Security 2020 Program,…

Reforming the UN to Address 21st Century Threats

Building a “smart coalition” of state and non-state actors dedicated to engendering global governance reforms.

Press Release
Expert Analysis: Confronting Transnational Challenges at UN and Beyond

As President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly today for his eighth and final time, experts from the nonpartisan Stimson Center analyze the remarks as well as U.S. and U.N. efforts to confront 21st century transnational threats: Aditi Gorur, Di…

Just Security and the Crisis of Global Governance

William Durch, Joris Larik, and Richard Ponzio’s article “Just Security and the Crisis of Global Governance” is published in the August-September 2016 issue of the IISS policy journal Survival. It considers how the intersection of justice and security—…

Press Release
Dialogue on Conflict, Fragile States Marks Anniversary of Albright-Gambari Commission Report

To mark the one-year anniversary of  the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance report that concluded that the U.N. must reform to address modern threats, UAE Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh and form…

Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance

The Stimson Center and The Hague Institute for Global Justice teamed up in 2014 to address critical global issues at the intersection of security and justice and build effective responses to them. To these ends, the two institutions built a major…

Beyond UN 70: Sustaining Momentum for Peacekeeping & Peacebuilding Reform

Peacekeeping is one of the cornerstones of the United Nations and was, is and will be an essential tool for creating lasting peace in war-torn societies. The international system has changed in many ways since the first deployment of peacekeepers in 19…

Beyond Paris: Completing the new model of climate governance

By Richard Ponzio and William Durch As the world commemorates Earth Day today, April 22, it is useful to take stock of the progress made in tackling the preeminent global environmental challenge of our time: climate change. Remarkably, last December in…

Report of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance

Former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright and former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Dr. Ibrahim Gambari present Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, the pathbreaking new…

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