Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "United Nations"

The UN’s Ninth Secretary-General is António Guterres

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Nominated U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a news conference at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon, Portugal October 6, 2016. (Rafael Marchante/Reuters) Nominated U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a news conference at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon, Portugal October 6, 2016. (Rafael Marchante/Reuters)

The following is a guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Obama’s UN Address: An Enlightened Man in an Unreasonable World

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 20, 2016 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 20, 2016 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

President Barack Obama used his eighth and final address to the UN General Assembly to share his noble vision of a world order in which equality, liberty, and unity trump injustice, oppression, and division. Part sermon, part pep-talk, the speech exuded an unflinching faith in liberal ideals and a progressive optimism that humanity can surmount any economic, political, and ecological challenges it faces. All that is required, the president suggested, is that leaders and citizens listen to the better angels of their nature. The big-picture speech contained little guidance about how to resolve intractable problems, from mass migration to North Korea’s nukes. But it was an eloquent effort, delivered by a reasonable man living in unreasonable times. Its biggest flaw was in ignoring the practical difficulties and inherent trade-offs of applying such high-minded ideals to a fallen world. Read more »

Refugees Take UN Center Stage: But Is It All Sound and Fury?

by Stewart M. Patrick
A rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva approaches an overcrowded wooden vessel with migrants from Eritrea, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 29, 2016 (Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters). A rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva approaches an overcrowded wooden vessel with migrants from Eritrea, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 29, 2016 (Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters).

The annual opening of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is a noisy affair and, like Churchill’s pudding, often lacks a coherent theme. This year is different. World leaders will convene two special sessions to address the flood of refugees and migrants from global conflict zones—and make promises to alleviate their suffering. Expectations for the first meeting, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, are low. It will produce no more than a consensus declaration that is long on platitudes and short on action. The second, led by President Obama, is more promising. It should generate meaningful national pledges of aid. But to make a real dent, the assembled nations must get serious about ending chronic displacement, by focusing on cures rather than palliatives. And that, alas, is unlikely to happen. Read more »

UN Peacekeeping: Challenges Loom Ahead of London Summit

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
UN peacekeepers stand guard during a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to an internally displaced persons camp in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan  on May 6, 2014.  (Andreea Campeanu/Reuters) UN peacekeepers stand guard during a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to an internally displaced persons camp in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan on May 6, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Reuters)

The following is a guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Later this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his counterparts from around the world will gather in London to assess the state of UN peace operations. The meeting is a follow-up on a summit hosted by President Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2015. At that event, nearly fifty world leaders committed to modernizing UN peacekeeping, pledging over 40,000 troops as well as critical enablers such as helicopters and hospital units to missions around the world. Coming on the heels of a seminal review of UN peacekeeping, the conference also generated a new optimism that after years of inaction, member states were finally prepared to close the gap between the expanding mandates of and the resources and capabilities devoted to peace operations. Read more »

Help Wanted: Staffing the Next Secretary-General’s United Nations

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Candidates vying to become the next United Nations secretary-general debate in the UN General Assembly in New York on July 12, 2016. From left to right are Natalia Gherman, Vuk Jeremic, Susana Malcorra, António Guterres, and Vesna Pusic. Candidates vying to become the next United Nations secretary-general debate in the UN General Assembly in New York on July 12, 2016. From left to right are Natalia Gherman, Vuk Jeremic, Susana Malcorra, António Guterres, and Vesna Pusic (Mike Segar/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This week the UN Security Council will conduct a second straw poll in the race to select the ninth secretary-general (SG) of the United Nations. António Guterres, who recently stepped down from a ten-year run as UN high commissioner for refugees, emerged as the surprise early frontrunner after the first poll. However, the Council’s final choice likely won’t be known until the fall, and those watching the race should expect many twists in between. More important than who is selected is whether the process paves the way for real reform in how the UN chooses its senior leaders. Read more »

Let the Sunshine in: Increasing Transparency in UN Elections

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A United Nations flag flies on a mast at their European headquarters in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters) A United Nations flag flies on a mast at their European headquarters in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The following is a guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, or so the saying goes. While New York and Washington, DC, have been drenched with rain over the past month, the sun is beginning to shine again in both cities. Light is also beginning to shine inside the United Nations, at least when it comes to high-level appointments.  For the first time, the next UN secretary-general (SG), director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and nonpermanent members of the Security Council will all be selected through more transparent procedures. Read more »

World Humanitarian Summit: One Small Step in a Long Journey

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands following the closing news conference during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 24, 2016. (Murad Sezer /Reuters) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands following the closing news conference during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 24, 2016. (Murad Sezer /Reuters)

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

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) concluded this week in Istanbul with mixed results. Although a few significant initiatives emerged, including on financing and education, the summit made little headway on other urgent priorities. These include mobilizing a new crop of humanitarian donors, ensuring compliance with the 1951 Refugee Convention, and getting states to uphold international humanitarian law, including the safety of relief workers. Progress on these fronts will await the opening of the seventy-first session of the UN General Assembly in September, when world leaders convene for real intergovernmental negotiations. The Istanbul summit was merely the first step in mobilizing global attention and political will on the need to rescue a world in flight. Read more »

World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules?

by Stewart M. Patrick
Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin sit for photographs during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin sit for photographs during the Yalta Conference in February 1945 (Courtesy Imperial War Museums).

The international rules-based order established after World War II seems to be under relentless pressure, threatening its foundations existentially. If so, what if anything can be done to reinvigorate it? This question raises several others a priori. First, what are the most distinctive attributes of the post-1945 world order; how did that order come into being; and what explains its longevity? Second, what forces are now placing this order under strain? Third, what aspects of today’s order are most vulnerable—and which are most resilient? Fourth, what principles, frameworks, and objectives should guide U.S. policy toward world order going forward? In my new article in The Washington Quarterly, I aim to answer those fundamental questions. Read more »

The Peace Imperative: Creating Sustainable Peace through Gender Inclusion

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Democratic Forces of Syria women fighters gesture while riding a pick-up truck near the town of al-Shadadi in the Hasaka countryside of Syria on February 18, 2016. Democratic Forces of Syria women fighters gesture while riding a pick-up truck near the town of al-Shadadi in the Hasaka countryside of Syria on February 18, 2016 (Rodi Said/Reuters).

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

The United Nations is attempting to restart yet another set of peace talks in Syria and Yemen, two deeply conflicted states. After years of struggling to foster a negotiated peace, hopes are high that these latest rounds will be successful. The more likely scenario is that they end like their numerous predecessors—in failure. Read more »

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 »