Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

Rio Plus 20: What Prospects for the Next UN Mega-Conference?

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, March 30, 2012
A boat is seen near Copacabana Beach at sunrise in Rio de Janeiro March 14, 2012. (Sergio Moraes /Courtesy Reuters)

On June 20-21, the world will descend on Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Twenty years after the last Earth Summit in Rio—heralded as an epochal event—expectations are underwhelming. No major treaties are on the table, unlike in 1992, when the event produced major conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification. The world seems exhausted by UN mega-meetings, so full of sound and fury but delivering little. And at a time of continued economic difficulties, governments around the world are looking inward, despite looming environmental crises. The United States, which tried to steer the Brazilians away from a leaders-level summit, has not even decided who will head its delegation. Read more »

The BRICS India Summit: Beyond Bricolage?

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, March 28, 2012
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, India's President Pratibha Patil, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari pose with artists during a cultural programme and banquet before the BRICS India Summit (Presidential Palace Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

This Thursday India hosts the fourth summit of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), an annual gathering of the leaders of major rising powers. The meeting in New Delhi will expand the BRICS’ agenda beyond its traditional macroeconomic focus to address development, urbanization, and cultural cooperation. The BRICS has been widely heralded as a new geopolitical force. But beyond all the fanfare, what are the prospects that the bloc can turn its surging economic weight into real diplomatic clout? Read more »

The Nuclear Security Summit: Five Tests of Success in Seoul

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, March 26, 2012
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (L) shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit on March 26, 2012. (Yuriko Naka/Courtesy Reuters)

As more than fifty-three world leaders convene in Seoul, South Korea for the second global Nuclear Security Summit, North Korea has—predictably—attempted to steal the show by threatening to launch a “satellite” (aka long-range missile) next month. Pyongyang’s latest calculated provocation, though, should not be permitted to overshadow the significance and seriousness of the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit and its potential impact to bolster the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Read more »

The UN Versus Regional Organizations: Who Keeps the Peace?

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, March 23, 2012
South African President Jacob Zuma speaks during a Security Council meeting during on conflict prevention during in New York on September 22, 2011 (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).

In January, the South African government of Jacob Zuma threw down a gauntlet. Taking advantage of the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC), South Africa introduced a resolution to tighten the relationship between the UNSC and regional organizations—and the African Union in particular—charging that “Africa must not be a playground for furthering the interests of other regions ever again.” The Security Council subsequently adopted Resolution 2033 (2012), which pledges to enhance cooperation with regional organizations, though its clauses remain extremely vague. Read more »

South Africa: Just Another BRIC in the Wall?

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, March 20, 2012
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) is greeted by China's President Hu Jintao during the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan province April 14, 2011. (Nelson Ching/Courtesy Reuters)

Pretoria, South Africa

Next week the Indian government hosts the annual “BRICS” summit in New Delhi. For the first time, the guest list includes not only Brazil, Russia, India and China but also South Africa (adding a capital “S” in the BRICs acronym). The formal invitation to join the group came in December 2010, in an official letter from Chinese premier Hu Jintao to South African president Jacob Zuma. The alacrity with which Pretoria has seized on this new affiliation speaks volumes about South Africa’s ongoing identity crisis, eighteen years after the end of apartheid. It suggests a nation moving further away from the idealistic aspirations of its “second founding” to embrace a more cynical foreign policy in which the protection of fundamental human rights cedes to the defense of absolute sovereignty and nonintervention. This posture may curry favor with the major rising powers. But it will surely damage prospects for U.S. support for one of South Africa’s most cherished goals: a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC). Read more »

Beyond the BRICS

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, March 14, 2012
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (top L-R) attend a joint news conference during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Sanya, on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, April 14, 2011. (Press Information Bureau of India/Handout /Courtesy Reuters)


A second tier of middle-income powers is emerging beyond the Brazil, India, China, Russia, and South Africa (BRICS) group. These countries complicate traditional conceptions of East vs. West and developed vs. developing nations. Watch below for my analysis of the global impact of this shift: Read more »

The G20: What We Thinktank It Should Do

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, March 1, 2012
Speakers, including Stewart Patrick, at the Mexican Think20 meeting.

As host of this year’s Group of Twenty (G20) summit, the Mexican government is diligently finalizing the agenda that world leaders will consider in Los Cabos (June 18-19). Earlier this week I was in sunny Mexico City, helping advise Mexico’s G20 sherpa, Deputy Foreign Minister Lourdes Aranda, on summit priorities. I did so as part of a new “Think20” network of think tank experts from around the world—the brainchild of the Canadian Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The consultation, cohosted by the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI), offered a rare chance to weigh in on the future of the world’s “premier forum for global economic coordination.”  The G20 has a tall task ahead of it, and needs to focus its agenda. Here’s the Internationalist’s take on its priorities for Los Cabos: Read more »