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 Law"

This Is Your UN on Drugs: From Prohibition to Flexibility in Counternarcotics Policy

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A Mexican Federal Judicial policeman carries uprooted marijuana plants towards a bonfire as smoke fills a clandestine plantation some four miles east of Santa Cruz de Alaya, in Sinaloa state. (Reuters photographer/Reuters) A Mexican Federal Judicial policeman carries uprooted marijuana plants towards a bonfire as smoke fills a clandestine plantation some four miles east of Santa Cruz de Alaya, in Sinaloa state. (Reuters photographer/Reuters)

Coauthored with Theresa Lou, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

World leaders gather at the United Nations this week (April 19-21) for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem. This is the first such event since 1998, when member states committed themselves to policies aimed at eliminating illegal drugs by 2008. Trillions of taxpayer dollars and many destroyed lives later, that goal remains elusive—and illusory. This year’s UNGASS offers an overdue opportunity to rethink the war on drugs, and to appreciate how much attitudes have changed over the last eighteen years. Simply put, the longstanding global consensus behind prohibition is fracturing. Though there is little appetite to overhaul the three main international treaties—the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Expanded Convention, and the 1988 Convention against Drug Trafficking—a growing number of governments are calling for greater national flexibility in interpreting and enforcing these international obligations. Read more »

Surface Tension: Chinese Aggression Roils Southeast Asian Waters

by Stewart M. Patrick
Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015. Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015 (Erik De Castro/Reuters).

In telling the Group of Seven (G7) yesterday to butt out of its controversial maritime claims in East Asia, China has doubled down on an historic strategic blunder. Beijing’s belligerence in the South China Sea is especially imprudent. By refusing to compromise on its outrageous sovereignty claims, the government of Xi Jinping discredits its “peaceful rise” rhetoric and complicates efforts by member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “triangulate” between China and the United States. Continued Chinese muscle-flexing will only undermine support for president Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and push regional fence-sitters into the U.S. embrace. The most promising outcome for all concerned would be a face-saving climb-down by China. Under this scenario, Beijing would promote détente rather than confrontation—without explicitly abandoning its jurisdictional claims. These are the main takeaways from a week’s worth of discussions with officials, policy analysts, and academics in China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Read more »

An Ever-Looser Union

by Stewart M. Patrick
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at the EU council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on February 19, 2016, to discuss "Brexit" and the migrant crisis. British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at the EU council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on February 19, 2016, to discuss "Brexit" and the migrant crisis. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The European Union is locked in a perpetual state of crisis management. It has had to head off the collapse of the eurozone, deal with waves of undocumented migrants, and now come to terms with a renewed terrorist threat, underscored by the recent attacks in Brussels. On top of all this, the EU confronts the real possibility of a British exit, or Brexit, which depends on the outcome of a public referendum in the United Kingdom in June. The European idea, which has helped to inspire the continent’s integration since World War II, may be the next casualty. Read more »

Fiddling in Yemen: A Messy War’s Lessons for Global Conflict Management

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015. Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015 (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Coauthored with Callie Plapinger, intern in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the world watches Syria burn, a tiny glimmer of hope shines in Yemen. Today, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that it will use new oversight powers to more closely monitor U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which for nine months has been carrying out a brutal campaign against Houthi rebels that’s left thousands of civilians dead. The news comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, that he would begin a renewed push for peace talks in Geneva next week. To be sure, near-term prospects for peace are low, given the conflicting interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran and the growing presence of both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Even so, the United States should welcome the UN’s latest initiative. More broadly, it should consider what Yemen teaches about the limits of backing proxy interventions—and the need to build up the UN’s multilateral conflict management capabilities. Read more »

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Impact on Global Health

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
An aerial banner reading "Doctors to Obama: Keep #TPP Away from Our Medicines!" flies above New York in January 2015. The banner was sponsored by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, which has argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could restrict access to affordable generic medicines in developing countries. An aerial banner reading "Doctors to Obama: Keep #TPP Away from Our Medicines!" flies above New York in January 2015. The demonstration was sponsored by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, which has argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could restrict access to affordable generic medicines in developing countries (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by my colleague Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

The NPT Review Conference: Setting Realistic Expectations

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A mushroom cloud rises over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. A mushroom cloud rises over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945 (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters/U.S. Air Force).

Coauthored with Naomi Egel, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

The Arms Trade Treaty: Time to Celebrate?

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
An activist campaigning for the global arms trade treaty holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters). An activist campaigning for the global arms trade treaty holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Naomi Egelresearch associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program. Read more »

More Treaty Gridlock: Another Impact of GOP Senate Takeover

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a news conference on the day after he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 5, 2014. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a news conference on the day after he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 5, 2014 (John Sommers II/Courtesy Reuters).

The Republican takeover of the Senate reduces the chance that the United States will ratify any important multilateral treaties over the next two years. Facing a GOP-controlled legislature, President Obama will focus his executive authority on salvaging what remains of his domestic agenda, rather than playing hardball in the field of foreign policy.With the exception of trade agreements—endorsed by incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell—don’t look for any movement on treaties. Read more »

ISIS and Foreign Fighters: Cutting off the Global Pipeline

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
ISIS fighters stand atop a tank during a military parade in Syria's Raqqa province on June 30, 2014. The parade was held to celebrate the group's declaration of a "caliphate" spanning its territory in Syria and Iraq one day earlier. ISIS fighters stand atop a tank during a military parade in Syria's Raqqa province on June 30, 2014. The parade was held to celebrate the group's declaration of a "caliphate" spanning its territory in Syria and Iraq one day earlier (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Daniel Chardell, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program. Read more »

NATO: Suddenly Relevant, Deeply Divided

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on August 11, 2014. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on August 11, 2014 (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Daniel Chardell, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program. Read more »