The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program constitute a joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center. The Center is independent and privately funded, and has offices in Washington, D.C., and Stockholm, Sweden. The Center is affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, and with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. It is the first Center of its kind in both Europe and North America, and is firmly established as a leading focus of research and policy worldwide, serving a large and diverse community of analysts, scholars, policy-watchers, business leaders, journalists, and students.


The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program were designed, in 1996 and 2002 respectively, to respond to the increasing need for information, research and analysis on these regions with the identical ambition: to help bring these regions out of the shadows of the American and European consciousness to which fate had consigned them. By encouraging Americans and Europeans to enter into an active and multi-faceted engagement with the region, and by promoting serious and well-informed policies towards it, the founders hoped the new institutes could help a neglected world area to reclaim its legitimate and appropriate place in the world order. Realizing the complementary and identical aims of providing rigorous, applied and policy-relevant research on this region, as well as the added value of further structured cooperation in research, teaching, and publications, CACI and SRSP resolved in 2005 to institutionalize their existing cooperation and to formally merge into a joint Research and Policy Center.


The joint Center strives to promote study and policy-related work on the region through five main channels: Impartial research; publications and dissemination; forums and conferences; teaching; and acting as a "switchboard" for knowledge and information.

Impartial Research

The joint Center fosters both fundamental and applied research in a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, ranging from short research projects involving a sole researcher to larger, multi-year endeavors involving numerous researchers. This research is undertaken mainly at the Center's two offices, but often involves sponsoring research in the field. The Center also often receives visiting scholars. In fields formerly dominated by males, women have been prominent among scholars at the Center. 

Publications and Dissemination

A main task of the joint Center is the publication and dissemination of its research to a large and varied audience consisting of both policymakers, academics, and the educated public. The Center aspires to fulfill this task through publishing research findings in a wide variety of outlets; through issuing a series of publications on the issues under its mandate; and through frequent interviews and lectures given by the Center's staff at to various media outlets and institutions around the world. The Center publishes the following publications:

    • A book series in cooperation with M.E. Sharpe Publishers.
    • The Silk Road Papers, the Center's Occasional Papers series ranging from 50 to 150 pages in length, are published electronically and in print, and are freely available online.
    • The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, a globally leading periodical for analysis and information on the region, freely accessible online. Established in 1999 and edited by Svante E. Cornell, the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst has established itself among the world's most authoritative sources of analysis and information on the region.
    • The Fact Sheets, Eurasian Narcotics, are based on an extensive database and provide insights on the drug problem in each regional country in an accessible manner.
    • News Digests. The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst includes a News Digest, while the Center also provides a weekly news digest on the narcotics and security situation in Eurasia.

Forums and Conferences

The Center organizes two periodic forums in their respective locations as well as occasional joint conferences. In Washington, the W.P. Carey Forum has developed into the country's premier locus for rigorous discussion of issues pertaining to Central Asia and the Caucasus. In Stockholm, the Silk Road Forum fosters discussions on the region in a similar manner. These forums have several aims:

    • To keep the region in the attention of the western foreign policy makers;
    • To make available the fruits of the most authoritative research on the region;
    • To bring attention to questions that are important but neglected in the public debate;
    • To give important officials in the region an opportunity to present their views to a wider audience than might otherwise be available to them.


While devoted mainly to research and policy issues, the joint Center regularly offers undergraduate and graduate courses on the region as well as supervision of master's and doctoral theses. 

A Switchboard of Knowledge and Information

The Center serves the most promising scholars and analysts working on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Such men and women are extremely decentralized. The best younger researchers in the U.S. and Europe frequently teach at universities and colleges that are distant from the traditional academic centers of international studies. Numerous centers for serious study exist throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus, among them being the Institutes of Strategic Studies that exist in every capital, and with which the Center maintains regular ties. The joint Center has become an unofficial embassy for Central Asia and Caucasus Studies in Washington and a kind of "intellectual switchboard" for such studies globally. The Washington office welcomes hundreds of visitors each year, including individuals, groups, and official delegations, while the Stockholm office, building on a long and leading tradition of studies of Central Eurasia in Europe, serves the same function.

The Center's Officers

The Joint Center's Chairman is Dr. S. Frederick Starr. A Distinguished Fellow at AFPC, Starr co-founded the Kennan Institute, served for 11 years as President of Oberlin College, and served in the early 2000s as pro-tem Rector of the University of Central Asia. He is a leading specialist on the society and politics of Central Asia including Afghanistan, as well as Russian politics and foreign policy, U.S. policy in Eurasia, and the regional politics of oil. The Center's Research Director is Dr. Svante E. Cornell. A Senior Fellow for Eurasia at AFPC, Cornell is a specialist on security issues, regional security and state-building in the Caucasus, Turkey, and Central Asia. The Center's Program Director is Dr. Niklas L.P. Swanström. Swanström is a specialist on conflict management, security, and negotiation in Northeast and Central Asia.





  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53


  • CACI Initiative on Religion and the Secular State in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Sunday, 24 January 2021 13:53

    In 2016, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program launched an initiative on documenting the interrelationship of religion and the secular state in the region. This initiative departed from the fact that little systematic reserch had been undertaken on the subject thus far. While there was and remains much commentary and criticism of religious policy in the region, there was no comprehensive analysis available on the interrelationship of religion and the state in any regional state, let alone the region as a whole. The result of this initiative has been the publication of six Silk Road Papers studying the matter in regional states, with more to come. In addition, work is ongoing on a volume putting the regional situation in the context of the Muslim world as a whole.


    Case Studies

    Each study below can be freely downloaded in PDF format.


    Azerbaijan's Formula: Secular Governance and Civil Nationhood
    By Svante E. Cornell, Halil Karaveli, and Boris Ajeganov
    November 2016   

    2018-04-Kazakhstan-SecularismReligion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan
    By Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr and Julian Tucker
    April 2018




    1806-UZ-coverReligion and the Secular State in Uzbekistan
    Svante E. Cornell and Jacob Zenn
    June 2018




    2006-Engvall-coverReligion and the Secular State in Kyrgyzstan
    Johan Engvall
    June 2020

     Event video online


    2006-Clement-coverReligion and the Secular State in Turkmenistan
    Victoria Clement
    June 2020

    Event video online




    Articles and Analyses

    Svante E. Cornell, "Religion and the State in Central Asia," in Ilan Berman, ed., Wars of Ideas: Theology, Interpretation and Power in the Muslim World, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    Svante E. Cornell, "Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?" in Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds. Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

  • Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories
    Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:01

    Rehab-coverIn 2010, the CACI-SRSP Joint Center cooperated with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus to produce a study of the methodology and process for the rehabilitation of the occupied territories in Azerbaijan. The study was written in the hope that it would prove useful in the aftermath of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    Such a resolution nevertheless did not materialize. At present, however, it appears that some of these territories are returning to Azerbaijani control as a result of the military conflict that began in late September, 2020. While it is regrettable that this did not come to pass as a result of negotiations, it is clear that the challenge of rehabilitating territories is as pressing today as it would be in the event of a peaceful resolution - if not more, given the likelihood that such a solution would have included a time-table and provided the Government of Azerbaijan and international institutions time for planning.

    It is clear that the study is a product of a different time, as much has changed since 2010. We fully expcect many updates and revisions to be needed should the recommendations in this study be implemented today. That said, we believe the methodoloy of the study and its conclusions remain relevant and would therefore like to call attention to this important study, published in English, Russian and Azerbaijani versions.

    Click to download:



  • Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
    Monday, 05 October 2020 08:19

    Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict


    The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program have a long track record of covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. This page presents the key resources and most recent analysis. 

    In 2017, Palgrave published the first book-length study of the International Politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, edited by Svante Cornell. The book concluded by arguing that if international efforts to resolve the conflict are not stepped up, “the ‘four-day’ war of April 2016 will appear a minor skirmish compared to what is sure to follow”.

    In 2015, CACI & SRSP released the Silk Road Paper  “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus”, which included a full page of recommendations for the U.S. and EU on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. These are reproduced below:


    Develop a substantial and prolonged Western initiative on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

    o This initiative must be led by the United States, in close consultation with its European partners – primarily the EU Commission and External Action Service, and France. Barring some process to reinvigorate the Minsk Process – a doubtful proposition given Western-Russian relations in the foreseeable future – Western leaders must be prepared to bypass that process, utilizing it where appropriate but focusing their initiative on developing direct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

    o The U.S. and its European partners must abandon the practice of relying solely on the Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Karabakh conflict. These diplomats have contributed greatly to formulating a workable framework agreement. However, strong and sustained U.S. Government leadership from the top level is needed to complement or, failing that, to replace the Minsk Process. In practice, this means the expressed support of the President, involvement of the White House, and leadership manifested in the appointment of a distinguished citizen as Special Envoy for the resolution of the conflict.

    o The EU must take a more clearly defined and substantial role in the process, by integrating to the highest degree possible the French co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group with EU institutions. While Washington will need to take the lead on the political side, it would be natural for the EU to take the lead in organizing an international development program for the currently occupied Azerbaijani provinces and Karabakh itself. That effort, too, would need to be led by a senior EU figure.


    In 2011, CACI & SRSP helped launch an extensive study of the steps needed for the post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's occupied territories, in cooperation with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus. The monograph "Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories" can be accessed here


    More background resources:

    Svante E. Cornell, "Can America Stop a Wider War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?", The National Interest, October 2020

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupation, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, January 2020. 

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, "The U.S. Needs to Declare War on Proxies", Foreign Policy, January 27, 2020

    Svante E. Cornell, “The Raucous Caucasus”, American Interest, May 2017

    Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, RoutledgeCurzon, 2001.

    Svante E. Cornell, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Uppsala University, 1999

    More recent analysis:

    Turkey Seeks to Counter Russia in the Black Sea-Caucasus Region,” Turkey Analyst, 10/5/20, Emil Avdaliani

    Turkey’s Commitment to Azerbaijan’s Defense Shows the Limits of Ankara’s Tilt to Moscow,” Turkey Analyst, 9/25/20, Turan Suleymanov & Bahruz Babayev

     “Cross-Border Escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 9/25/20, Natalia Konarzewska

    Russia and Turkey: Behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 8/31/20, Avinoam Idan

    Armenia and the U.S.: Time for New Thinking?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 10/2/19, Eduard Abrahamyan.

    Why Washington Must Re-Engage the CaucasusCentral Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 7/8/19, Stephen Blank

    Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Reform”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 5/7/19, Tamerlan Vahabov.

    Military Procurements on Armenia's and Azerbaijan's Defense Agendas”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/27/19, Ilgar Gurbanov

    Armenia's New Government Struggles with Domestic and External Opposition,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/20/19, Armen Grigorian.

    Bolton's Caucasian Tour and Russia's Reaction”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 12/17/18, Eduard Abrahamyan.