Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

The “Final” Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, March 28, 2013
Fake tombstones are placed along the East River by members of the Control Arms Coalition to coincide with a diplomatic conference on the future Arms Trade Treaty in New York July 24, 2012. (Andrew Kelly/Courtesy Reuters) Fake tombstones are placed along the East River by members of the Control Arms Coalition to coincide with a diplomatic conference on the future Arms Trade Treaty in New York July 24, 2012. (Andrew Kelly/Courtesy Reuters)

Coauthored with Andrew Reddie, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

The Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) convened by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is being presented as a last-ditch attempt to negotiate standards for the international trade in conventional arms. After a twelve-year process involving panels of experts, regional dialogues, and a lengthy planning program, it is showtime for the international community.  Given the well-documented hurdles to achieving consensus among 193 UN member states on international issues, however, the treaty is unlikely to be the “final”  word on the issue. Read more »

Environmental Security Goes Mainstream: Natural Resources and National Interests

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, March 22, 2013
The Nile and the Sinai Peninsula are pictured in this handout photo courtesy of Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, who is photographing Earth from the International Space Station. (Chris Hadfield/Courtesy Reuters) The Nile and the Sinai Peninsula are pictured in this handout photo courtesy of Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, who is photographing Earth from the International Space Station. (Chris Hadfield/Courtesy Reuters)

Not long ago, concerns about environmental degradation were marginal in U.S. national security deliberations. What a difference climate change has made. Foreign policy officials and experts are starting to recognize profound linkages between planetary health, economic prosperity, and international security. These connections were on full view Wednesday, when the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) teamed up with Conservation International (CI) to convene a symposim,“Global Resources, the U.S. Economy, and National Security.” The livestreamed event (available here) assembled intelligence officials, development economists, defense experts, conservation biologists, and corporate executives to discuss the rapid degradation of the earth’s natural endowments and its dire implications for long term prosperity and stability. The provocative conversation ranged far beyond global warming to assess the implications of deforestation and desertification, collapsing fisheries, habitat destruction, and water scarcity.  That these topics were broached at CFR—an august institution traditionally concerned with issues like Middle East peace, nuclear proliferation, or China’s rise—shows how central the subject of sustainability has become for foreign policy professionals. Read more »

Technological Change and the Frontiers of Global Governance

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, March 14, 2013
An agricultural aircraft flies over Prachuab Khirikhan in a bid to seed clouds to provide Thailand with rain during the height of summer. (Sukree Sukplang/Courtesy Reuters) An agricultural aircraft flies over Prachuab Khirikhan in a bid to seed clouds to provide Thailand with rain during the height of summer. (Sukree Sukplang/Courtesy Reuters)

The history of global governance is in many respects the story of international adapation to new technologies. As breakthroughs emerge, sovereign governments have tried to craft common standards and rules to facilitate cooperation and mitigate conflict. Consider the phenomenon known as standard time. We now take for granted the world’s division into twenty-four separate hourly zones, with Greenwich Mean Time as the baseline. But in the middle of the nineteenth century, there were 144 local time zones in the United States alone. It was only with the global spread of railroad lines in the late nineteenth century—and the need to standardized train schedules both nationally and internationally—that major countries convened in Washington and agreed to synchronize time within each zone, rather than continue to allow localities to calculate time according to local meridians or solar time. Read more »