Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "International Humanitarian Assistance"

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). 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 »

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). 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 »

Wherefore Art Thou ASEAN? Typhoon Haiyan’s Teachable Moment

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A survivor carries plastic jugs as he searches for fresh water in an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine city of Tacloban on November 18, 2013 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters). A survivor carries plastic jugs as he searches for fresh water in an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine city of Tacloban on November 18, 2013 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Jeffrey Wrightresearch associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan blasted through the heart of the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and the country’s midsection flattened. One of the most powerful storms in recorded history, Haiyan carved a path of destruction reminiscent of the Asian tsunami in 2004 that demolished Indonesia’s Aceh province and other coastal areas in the Bay of Bengal. Similar to that disaster, the poorest citizens bore the brunt of calamity in the archipelago, their matchstick homes and enterprises reduced to rubble. Read more »

Typhoon Haiyan and Global Disaster Readiness

by Stewart M. Patrick

It will take months to fully understand the human and economic losses brought about by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 8. But at its most basic level, this occurrence underscores the importance of disaster preparedness and has spurred an important conversation about what can and cannot be done in the wake of natural disaster. Here I outline three things to know about disaster preparedness and relief. 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). 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 »

At Stake in Syria: The Chemical Weapons Taboo

by Stewart M. Patrick
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013. Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching a gas attack that killed nearly 500 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of chemical arms in the two-year-old civil war. The Syrian armed forces strongly denied using chemical weapons. Syrian state television said the accusations were fabricated to distract a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago (Ammar Dar/Courtesy Reuters). A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013. Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching a gas attack that killed nearly 500 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of chemical arms in the two-year-old civil war. The Syrian armed forces strongly denied using chemical weapons. Syrian state television said the accusations were fabricated to distract a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago (Ammar Dar/Courtesy Reuters).

Syrian opposition activists allege government forces launched a devastating poison gas attack yesterday that killed hundreds of civilians in suburban Damascus. If true, it would be the war’s worst atrocity—and would mock the “red line” warning that President Obama issued Assad exactly a year ago. The claims also reinforce the urgency of bolstering the chemical weapons inspection regime in Syria. Five months after their first alleged use, the world has no clear picture of how often or by whom chemical weapons have been employed, nor about the security of remaining weapons depots. Read more »

Regional Organizations and Humanitarian Intervention

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Arab foreign ministers attend a meeting on Syria at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo June 5, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters). Arab foreign ministers attend a meeting on Syria at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo June 5, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Andrew Reddie, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

The UN Charter advises that “the Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority.” The degree to which regional cooperation represents a sine qua non for international action was made abundantly clear in the recent uprising against Muammar al-Qaddafi, as the Arab League sanctioned a no-fly zone over Libya, followed promptly by UN Security Council Resolution 1973. But are regional organizations the future of humanitarian intervention? Read more »

R2P on Life Support: Humanitarian Norms vs. Practical Realities in Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
A United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch the fighting between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Quneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria June 7, 2013 (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters). A United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch the fighting between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Quneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria June 7, 2013 (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Thirty-five years ago, U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski famously declared that the doctrine of détente “lies buried in the sands of Ogaden.” By exporting revolution to the Horn of Africa, he implied, Moscow had abandoned norms of peaceful coexistence, as well as prospects for the SALT treaty. One wonders if a more recent would-be doctrine, the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), is destined to suffer a similar fate. Two years ago, the UN Security Council seemed to vindicate this new norm, by authorizing “all necessary means” to protect Libyan civilians against strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi. Today, R2P clings to life support in Syria, as the civilian body count there mounts to appalling levels. Read more »

Ending Syria’s Agony: Lessons from Other Civil Wars

by Stewart M. Patrick
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk during their meeting in Moscow, May 7, 2013. Russia and the United States agreed on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference this month on ending the civil war in Syria, and said both sides in the conflict should take part. (Mladen Antonov/Courtesy Reuters) Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk during their meeting in Moscow, May 7, 2013. Russia and the United States agreed on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference this month on ending the civil war in Syria, and said both sides in the conflict should take part. (Mladen Antonov/Courtesy Reuters)

Tuesday’s agreement between Moscow and Washington to convene an international conference on Syria raises some obvious questions. After a brutal conflict that has killed more than seventy thousand, is a negotiated peace between government and rebels forces plausible? And even if a settlement can be negotiated, is it likely to hold? Read more »

“A Moment of Truth” for Syrian Refugees—and International Justice

by Stewart M. Patrick
Syrian refugees at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi in Hatay province. (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters) Syrian refugees at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi in Hatay province. (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday Antonio Gutteres, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, briefed the UN Security Council on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. Gutteres’ remarks, delivered in closed session but subsequently published on UNHCR’s website, provide a chilling summary of the human cost of this grinding conflict. The crisis, in his words, presents a “moment of truth” to the international community. That is true in at least two senses. The world needs to take bolder steps to alleviate human suffering in Syria. And it needs to hold the perpetrators of atrocities accountable. Read more »