Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "Transnational Crime"

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

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick and 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)

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 »

Protecting the Global Supply of Medicines

by Stewart M. Patrick
A Peruvian official examines seized counterfeit pills through a magnifying glass in Lima in August 2010. A Peruvian official examines seized counterfeit pills through a magnifying glass in Lima in August 2010 (Mariana Bazo/Courtesy Reuters).

Today, IIGG releases a new policy innovation memorandum entitled “Designing a Global Coalition of Medicines Regulators.” This policy memo assesses the regulatory landscape of the global supply chain for medicines and proposes that a multilateral coalition of regulatory authorities would substantively improve the ability of public regulators to keep pace with a dynamic global marketplace. Here is an excerpt: Read more »

The Global Debate Over Illegal Drugs Heats Up

by Stewart M. Patrick
Mexican soldiers look as 134 tonnes of marijuana are incinerated at Morelos military base in Tijuana October 20, 2010 (Courtesy Jorge Duenes/Reuters).

Having been frozen for four decades, a long-deferred debate over the “war on drugs” is finally heating up. Ever since the Nixon administration, the dominant paradigm informing U.S. and global policy towards narcotics has been prohibition. That failed approach is now being challenged by a slew of influential reports, path-breaking national policies in the Western Hemisphere, and state-level experiments within the United States. Just how turbulent the debate has become was clear at yesterday’s roundtable on the future of international drug policy, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The United States will need to chart a new policy course if it hopes to retain credibility and influence as global attitudes toward drugs continue to evolve. Read more »

Latin America Charts Its Own Course: Reflections on the Mexico City CoC Meeting

by Stewart M. Patrick
Secretary General of the OAS José Miguel Insulza delivers a keynote speech at the Council of Councils Fifth Regional Conference in Mexico City, at a dinner hosted in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. November 25, 2013.

For more than two centuries the United States has loomed—for good and ill—over its southern neighbors. But that longstanding hegemonic role is fading. After two decades of robust growth and democratic consolidation, Latin America is increasingly charting its own course, not only in the hemisphere but, increasingly, around the globe. The diverse and dynamic region below the Rio Grande may still be America’s “backyard”, but it’s no backwater. And it’s evident that the United States is only beginning to adjust to these realities. Read more »

Winds of Change in the War on Drugs: An OAS Report That Won’t Gather Dust

by Stewart M. Patrick
A Colombian police officer stands guard near packs of confiscated marijuana in Cali March 26, 2013. According to authorities, narcotics police confiscated 7.7 tons (6985 kilograms) of marijuana that were transported in two trucks at a checkpoint in Valle del Cauca, which belonged to the sixth front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). They also said that 80 tons of marijuana have been seized so far this year. (Jaime Saldarriaga/ Courtesy Reuters)

It was half a century ago that UK Prime Minister Harold McMillan famously noted the “winds of change” buffeting the British Empire. Old verities were crumbling and Great Britain would need to adapt to a new political reality. Something analogous is happening today in the Western Hemisphere, where Latin American governments are rethinking their participation in Washington’s decades-long war on drugs. The latest evidence is a ground-breaking Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas, released May 17 by the Organization of American States (OAS). For the first time, the multilateral body is calling for a sober reassessment of the prohibition strategies the United States has backed since the Nixon administration. Read more »

Introducing the Global Governance Report Card

by Stewart M. Patrick
Screen shot of the Global Governance Report Card page. Click to access the report.

As Mayor of New York, the late Edward Koch famously asked constituents, “How’m I doing?” He got an earful. But he valued the instant feedback and even adjusted occasionally. As we commemorate Earth Day, we might ask the same question of ourselves – but on a planetary scale. When it comes to addressing the world’s gravest ills, how are we doing? Read more »

“Smuggler Nation”: America’s Illicit History Exposed

by Stewart M. Patrick
Tallship The Grande Turk trails Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's ship HMS Endurance. (Russell Boyce/Courtesy Reuters)

Smuggling may not be the world’s oldest profession, but it must rank a close second. For as long as political authorities have sought to control borders, criminal networks have tried to circumvent them, evading customs duties and trafficking in illicit goods. Indeed, as Peter Andreas shows in his spectacular new book, Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, smuggling has been an enduring feature of the American experience since colonial times. It has been as important in shaping the development and global trajectory of the United States as the factors historians usually invoke—such as the liberal political principles of the nation’s Founders, the legacy of the frontier, the doctrine of American exceptionalism, the country’s geographic position, or its abundant natural resources. Once you read his fascinating account, you will never look at U.S. history the same way again. Read more »

Collateral Damage: How Libyan Weapons Fueled Mali’s Violence

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick and Stewart M. Patrick
Anti-Qaddafi fighters salvage weapons from a pro-Qaddafi weapons and ammunition compound in a village near Sirte on September 19, 2011. Munitions stockpiles in eastern Libya remain for the large part unguarded through today, despite pledges by the interim government to secure the country's massive arsenal (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Isabella Bennett, program coordinator in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

The violence that has plagued once-stable Mali since late 2011 should have come as no surprise to Western governments, for it is a direct function of NATO’s Libyan intervention. By adopting a “light footprint” approach in Libya, the alliance unwittingly contributed to a security vacuum that allowed countless weapons  to stream out of Libya and fuel insurgency, extremism, and crime in neighboring countries. One of these countries was Mali, where the flood of weapons from Libya helped a rebel coalition topple the democratically elected government in Bamako in May 2012 and—until the recent French intervention—allow a jihadist alliance to gain control over the country’s entire northeast. The relevant policy question is why neither the United States nor its international partners did anything to  staunch or mitigate the flow of Libyan weapons south. Read more »

Are Criminals, Terrorists, and Bolivarians Teaming Up Against the United States?

by Stewart M. Patrick
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (R) and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laugh as they watch TV during a visit at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on June 22, 2012 (Miraflores Palace Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

On August 16, Doug Farah, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, published Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority. The monograph contributes in a major way to our understanding of the increasingly complex relationships that exist among criminal networks, terrorists, and sovereign states. Read more »

Guest Post: No Slaves Were Used in the Writing of This Blog Post

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A 18-year-old girl rescued from child trafficking poses in Proshanti, a shelter run by the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association in Dhaka June 17, 2008 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters).

Below, my colleague Isabella Bennett, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers an assessment of how to reduce human trafficking.

The latest estimates by the International Labor Organization state that nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor—and a significant amount of this suffering is fueled by every day products available on American shelves. Read more »