Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

Prospects for the Geneva Summit—and other Matters

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, June 28, 2012
Smokes rises after an explosion was heard near the Palace of Justice in central Damascus June 28, 2012 (SANA/Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

U.S. lawmakers may be preparing for their summer recess (and just in time to escape a brutal DC heat wave), but the news cycle will certainly not be slowing down. Join Jim Lindsay and me, filling in for Bob MacMahon, on The World Next Week podcast as we discuss the upcoming crisis meeting on Syria in Geneva, Mexican presidential elections, and the upcoming budget challenges that Congress will need to confront to avert “taxmaggedon”. Read more »

How Transnational Crime Hinders Development—and What to Do About It

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A worker carries charcoal through a slashed and burned area in eastern Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. Logging is illegal in Sierra Leone, but remains the leading cause of environmental degradation, according to the European Union. Population pressure, common slash and burn methods and illegal logging mean the country's bountiful forests could disappear by 2018, according to the Forestry Ministry (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters).

Today, the Internationalist is writing from the floor of the United Nations in New York, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, among others, have gathered for the hundredth anniversary of the landmark 1912 Opium Convention and the 2012 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. To mark the occasion and attempt to progress in the world’s fight against transnational crime, today’s thematic debate focuses on drugs and crime as a threat to development. Below is a summary of my prepared remarks to the panel. Read more »

Governing and Protecting the World’s Oceans: Still At Sea in Rio

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, June 22, 2012
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reacts as he talks to journalists during a news conference after the opening of the Rio+20 United Nations sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro June 20, 2012 (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

As the UN Conference on Sustainable Development—more popularly known by its moniker, “Rio+20”—wraps up today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, initial reports from the summit are bleak. The final outcome document, painstakingly hashed out in down-to-the-wire negotiations, contains few concrete and time-specific commitments. The World Wildlife Federation dubbed the text a “colossal failure,” a sentiment echoed by the European Union, which lamented the document’s “lack of ambition.” Read more »

Obama, Putin, and Syria: The Makings of a Deal?

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, June 19, 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

As often happens at G20 summits, the major diplomatic action in Los Cabos is taking place not in plenary sessions devoted to the world economy, but in discreet conversations between world leaders. Witness the bilateral meeting yesterday between presidents Obama and Putin over the deteriorating situation in Syria. That conversation suggested the outlines of a potential breakthrough, as both sides stare into the abyss of an all-out Syrian civil war. In their closing statement, Obama and Putin committed to the common goal of a “political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system that would be implemented by the Syrians themselves.” Making tangible progress toward this objective will require restraint on the part of the Obama administration, and the stomach to grant Putin the outsized diplomatic role he craves as mediator. Read more »

The G20 and the Eurozone Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, June 15, 2012
Germany's Chancellor Merkel and U.S. President Obama discuss before a meeting on the second day of the G20 Summit in Cannes (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

On Sunday, one day after Greeks vote in elections that may result in their withdrawal from the eurozone, and throw that single currency union into untested waters, leaders from the world’s twenty largest economies will gather in Los Cabos, Mexico, at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit. The eurozone crisis will undoubtedly dominate, but under the surface there are important issues of global cooperation that the leaders must not forget. Read more »

The G20 Mexico Summit

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Mexican President Felipe Calderon speaks to members of the G20 during a G20 Sherpas' meeting at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City, February 3, 2012 (Bernardo Montoya/Courtesy Reuters).

World leaders will gather June 18-20 in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the Group of Twenty nations summit. Watch the Internationalist interview below with Enrique Berruga, the president of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, about the upcoming meeting and future of the group. Read more »

RIP for R2P? Syria and the Dilemmas of Humanitarian Intervention

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, June 12, 2012
People carry the body of men, whom activists say were killed by the Syrian government army, in Taftanaz village, east of Idlib city April 5, 2012. Picture taken April 5, 2012. (Shaam News/Courtesy Reuters)

The ratcheting up of violence in Syria, including the massacres of civilians in Houla and Qubair, is placing extraordinary pressure on the Obama administration to match its tough anti-atrocities rhetoric with practical action. The pending failure of the Annan peace plan, and the former secretary-general’s declaration that the country is headed for “all-out civil war,” is quickly driving the White House toward an unenviable election-year choice: either sit back and watch the carnage, or forge an ad hoc coalition to prevent Syrian depredations. Senior administration officials have made it clear that if the UN Security Council (UNSC) fails to “assume its responsibilities,” in the words of U.S. envoy Susan E. Rice, “members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan Plan and the authority of this council.”   Read more »

Everyone Agrees: Ratify the Law of the Sea

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, June 8, 2012
Philippine and U.S. marines during a Philippine-U.S. joint military exercise on the western coast of Philippines April 25, 2012. Thousands of American and Philippine troops participated in a mock assault to retake a small island near disputed areas in the South China Sea, an exercise expected to raise tension with rival claimant China (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters).

It is high time the United States joined 162 other states and the European Union in becoming party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)—thirty years after the Reagan administration first negotiated the treaty.

On May 23, the White House dispatched its big guns to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator Kerry is holding hearings on UNCLOS. The message from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, was unequivocal: Acceding to the treaty is profoundly in the U.S. national interest. Read more »

The Human Rights Council: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, June 1, 2012
United States Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe listens to a speech during the Human Rights Council special session on the situation in Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva June 1, 2012 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

Since the creation of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2006, U.S. critics have repeatedly tarred the HRC as a feckless haven for human rights abusers and a platform for egregious attacks of Israel. By their reckoning, President George W. Bush was correct to wash his hands of the body, whereas Barack Obama sullied his own in bringing the United States into the body in 2009. But critics overlook transformational improvements. The HRC remains deeply imperfect. But thanks to the Obama administration’s dogged diplomacy, it has started to turn the corner, gaining “newfound credibility as a human rights watchdog.” Read more »