Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "Human Rights"

The New “Space Race” for Civil Society and Democracy

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Egyptian activists accused of working for outlawed non-governmental organizations stand trial in Cairo in February 2014. Egyptian activists accused of working for outlawed non-governmental organizations stand trial in Cairo in February 2014 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Civil society plays a central role in securing and upholding democratic governance worldwide. However, from Egypt to Russia, authoritarian governments are reverse engineering civil society’s tactics, threatening to undermine the campaign for liberal rule. As civil society fights for space in which to dissent, rally for reform, and express itself freely, illiberal states are squeezing that space. My colleague Mark P. Lagon, adjunct senior fellow for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University, calls this the “new space race” in his just-released CFR Expert Brief, “Fighting for Civil Society’s Space.” He recommends an approach to global diplomacy to ensure open space for reformers. Here’s an excerpt. Read more »

Voting Against Accountability for Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin votes in the United Nations Security Council against referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes at the U.N. headquarters in New York May 22, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Today the UN Security Council voted on a French draft resolution referring the situation in Syria—where government forces have systematically slaughtered civilians—to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia and China vetoed the resolution. While not surprising, the double veto is enormously frustrating to those demanding a stronger international response to war crimes in Syria. To some observers, the failure of this referral may signal the impossibility of ensuring accountability in a context of geopolitical rivalry. But the Obama administration’s decision to support the resolution, even in the face of near certain defeat, was appropriate and necessary—appropriate in light of its evolving relationship with the ICC and necessary given its limited options for ending the conflict in Syria. Read more »

Brazil’s Internet Summit: Building Bridges to Avoid “Splinternet”

by Stewart M. Patrick
In this photo illustration, a man holds an iPad with a Facebook application in an office building at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, September 25, 2013 (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Netizens of the world are in Sao Paulo this week for the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (April 23-24). The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (, which organized the gathering in partnership with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), have high hopes for “NETmundial,” where they hope universal principles for Internet governance will be negotiated. The good news for the United States is that participants seem committed to establishing consensus-based public policies to safeguard the web’s open architecture—as well as to rebooting rather than replacing a multistakeholder governance model that gives equal weight to governments, the private sector, and civil society. Read more »

Lessons of the Rwandan Genocide

by Stewart M. Patrick
The skulls and bones of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali, August 6, 2010. Some 5,000 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge near the church in April 1994, but were massacred by Hutu extremists who used grenades, clubs and machetes to kill their victims. Rwandan voters go to the polls on Monday for the second presidential election since the genocide 16 years ago (Courtesy Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters).

Coauthored with Patrick McCormick, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Twenty years ago yesterday two surface-to-air missiles ripped into a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Hutu militias responded by launching a violent genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority. Over the next 100 days, the country became an abattoir. Read more »

Crimea: Stop Citing International Law and Start Condemning Russian Expansionism

by Stewart M. Patrick
Participants in a pro-Russian rally wave Russian flags in front of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol March 17, 2014. Crimea formally applied to join Russia on Monday after its leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result in favour of seceding from Ukraine in a referendum condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West that will trigger immediate sanctions (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin pulled off a rigged referendum in which an overwhelming majority of Crimean voters chose union with the Russian Federation. But his victory is far from complete. The West retains a powerful card to play: mobilizing international opposition to deny Russia the international legitimacy it seeks for this naked power play.  U.S. and European leaders have roundly condemned the referendum, citing international law. It would be wiser for the West to shift the terms of the debate away from the legal merits of Russian conduct, and to focus instead on the illegitimacy of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s clear aspirations to expand its territory. Read more »

Syria and the Global Humanitarian Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick
Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters).

Three years after the outbreak of war in Syria, the agony only deepens for its civilian population. The conflict has already killed 140,000, forced 9.5 million­­—44 percent of the nation’s prewar inhabitants—to abandon their homes, and led some 2.5 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Syrian refugees now constitute more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s population, on top of 400,000 Palestinian refugees already present. In January, the United Nations sponsored a conference in Kuwait City, requesting that international donors provide $6.5 billion in emergency assistance for the victims of the Syria conflict—a figure dwarfing any previous humanitarian appeal. The scale of this effort underscores the magnitude of the human tragedy in Syria. It also points to broader strains and dilemmas confronting the humanitarian enterprise globally. Read more »

The Global Response to Armed Conflict: From Aleppo to Kinshasa

by Stewart M. Patrick
IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters).

As the civil war in Syria rages on, and the United States and its international partners appear unable to mobilize a collective response to stem the bloodshed, CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program has launched an update to its Global Governance Monitor: Armed Conflict. The revamped multimedia guide uses a new technology platform to track and analyze recent multilateral efforts to prevent, manage, and respond to armed violence around the globe. Combining stunning images and compelling narrative, it identifies the major successes and failures in global conflict mitigation during 2013. Read more »

Russia’s Syria Initiative: Beware Strangers Bearing Gifts

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Moscow has seized the initiative in the increasingly dizzying diplomacy over Syria’s chemical weapons (CW). By picking up on Secretary of State John Kerry’s offhand remark—that Damascus might avoid a U.S. military strike by eliminating its CW stockpiles—Vladimir Putin has offered a lifeline to a beleaguered White House. Bereft of domestic and international support for a hard line against Bashar al Assad, Barack Obama must be sorely tempted to make this new initiative work. After all, by disarming Syria of chemical weapons, he can declare “victory” without dragging an exhausted American public into another Middle Eastern quagmire. But before making this leap, the President needs to take a hard look at the political as well as technical requirements for an effective inspection regime. Read more »

MLK, Obama, and the Audacity of Intervention in Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
President Barack Obama speaks at a dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington October 16, 2011. (Molly Riley/Courtesy Reuters)

At first glance the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the chemical weapons crisis in Syria seem entirely unrelated. But they offer an opportunity to juxtapose the visions of war and peace of two influential Americans. On the one side is the towering figure of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK), an apostle of nonviolent resistance, convinced that “violence never brings permanent peace.” On the other is President Barack Obama, himself product of the civil rights struggle, who confronts an agonizing policy choice in Syria after the suspected chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime on civilian populations last week. Read more »

Pluralism, Peace, and the “Responsibility to Innovate”

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Former President Ronald Reagan addresses a crowd at the opening of the Reagan Library in Simi, California, November 4, 1991 (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Mark P. Lagon, adjunct senior fellow for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Read more »