Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "International Justice"

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 »

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). 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 »

Nuclear Security Summit 2014: How to Make Progress Even After Ukraine

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are seen in this combination photo as they attend the opening ceremony of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague March 24, 2014 (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are seen in this combination photo as they attend the opening ceremony of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague March 24, 2014 (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters).

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

Today, fifty-three countries and four international organizations are gathered in The Hague for the third Nuclear Security Summit. Russia’s annexation of Crimea has cast a shadow over the biannual meeting, threatening to distract delegates from the critical task at hand: following through on their commitments to lock down the world’s unsecured nuclear weapons, fissile material, and related technologies. The summit’s success will depend on whether the participating countries are willing to move beyond the harmonization of national pledges to construct a strong framework for nuclear security, undergirded by more powerful conventions and institutions. 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). 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). 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 »

At Stake in Ukraine: The Future of World Order

by Stewart M. Patrick
Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and reserved the right to use force in Ukraine as a last resort, but he sought to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic (David Mdzinarishvili/Courtesy Reuters). Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and reserved the right to use force in Ukraine as a last resort, but he sought to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic (David Mdzinarishvili/Courtesy Reuters).

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has aptly labeled Ukraine the “biggest crisis in Europe in the twenty-first century.” Indeed, he could have gone further. 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). 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). 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 »

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 »

“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 »