James B. Cunningham

Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center

James Cunningham-Web

Expert Connect

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Expertise

Topics

Democracy, Development, European Security, NATO and its Partners, Terrorism, United Nations

Regions

Afghanistan, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Israel, Macau, Middle East




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Recent Activity

  • January 17, 2019
    January 20 marks two years since US President Donald J. Trump took office. We take a look back at some of the big foreign policy headlines made by the president and his administration over these past two years.
  • December 11, 2018
    Read the Publication (PDF)Over one year after the announcement of the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, significant opportunity remains to improve efforts to achieve peace. In the Atlantic Council South Asia Center’s new report, Review of President Trump’s
  • November 12, 2018
    A new round of violence has erupted in the Gaza Strip following an Israeli military raid on November 11 that killed a local Hamas commander. The undercover military operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took place in the Gaza
  • November 07, 2018
    Democrats captured the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their Senate majority in the US midterm elections on November 6. We asked our analysts what they believe are the policy implications of this outcome. Here’s what they had to say*:
  • October 19, 2018
    Afghans will vote in parliamentary elections on October 20 amid the familiar threat of violence. The fragile security situation in Afghanistan was underscored on October 18 when Gen. Austin Miller, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, escaped unharmed in
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Full Bio

Ambassador James B. Cunningham joined the Atlantic Council in May 2015 as a senior fellow in the South Asia Center. He became a nonresident senior fellow in May 2016. He served as ambassador to Afghanistan (August 2012 to December 2014), and as deputy ambassador (2011 – 2012). He was ambassador to Israel (2008 -2011), consul general for Hong Kong and Macau (2005 – 2008), ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations in New York (1999 – 2004), and acting permanent representative to the United Nations for the first nine months of 2001, including on 9/11.

After early tours in Stockholm, Washington, Rome, and the US Mission to NATO, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner selected Ambassador Cunningham as his chief of staff (1988 – 1990). He advised the Secretary General on all NATO issues in the context of nuclear disarmament in Europe, the collapse of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, and the impending dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.

Just after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Ambassador Cunningham became deputy political counselor at the US Mission to the United Nations. In 1992, he became the deputy director of the State Department Office of European Security and Political Affairs (1992 – 1993) and then director (1993 – 1995). He served as deputy chief of mission at the Embassy in Rome (1996 – 1999).

Ambassador Cunningham was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with degrees in political science and psychology. He is married to Leslie Genier of Mineville, New York. They have two daughters. Ambassador Cunningham is the recipient of multiple awards from the State Department, the National Performance Review's Hammer Award for Innovation in Management, the US President's Meritorious Service Award (twice), and has received awards from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Secretary of Defense, the Afghan government, and Syracuse University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Asia Society.Ambassador Cunningham retired from government service in December 2014 with the rank of career minister.

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