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"

Seventy Is the New Fifty: The United Nations Confronts Its Midlife Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick
French UN peacekeepers cover their ears during a live training exercise between the Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon in December 2008. French UN peacekeepers cover their ears during a live training exercise between the Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon in December 2008 (Haidar Hawila/Reuters).

Pity the United Nations (UN), which turns seventy this month. Rather than enjoying a carefree retirement, the UN faces unrelenting demands on its time and resources, being expected to address threats both old (e.g., violent conflict, nuclear proliferation, and infectious disease) and new (e.g., climate change, terrorism, and cyberwar). Like many Baby Boomers, the UN has held up pretty well, at least superficially. Thanks to its binding charter and universal membership, it remains the world’s most important multilateral forum. However, dig a little deeper and the UN’s real problems are not frailties of geriatric life but the psychological complaints of middle age. The world body faces a four-fold midlife crisis—of identity, of relevance, of authority, and of performance. Read more »

Governing the Internet: The Latest Addition to the Global Governance Monitor

by Stewart M. Patrick
A schoolgirl studies on a computer in Los Angeles, California, on February 9, 2011. A schoolgirl studies on a computer in Los Angeles, California, on February 9, 2011 (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters).

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

The Internet has facilitated countless improvements in lives around the globe, from reducing costs of business transactions to connecting distant expatriate communities. But it has also brought challenges, from new privacy concerns to cyberattacks. Read more »

Assessing U.S. Membership in the UN Human Rights Council

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 2, 2015. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 2, 2015 (Evan Vucci/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Daniel Chardell and Theresa Lou, research associates in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

United Nations, Divided World: Obama, Putin, and World Order

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin address the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin address the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2015 (Mike Segar/Reuters).

For the past six years, President Barack Obama has dominated the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, his words and initiatives driving the agenda and media coverage. This year, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin, making his first UN appearance in a decade, who stole the diplomatic show. Putin’s call for a “grand coalition” against the Islamic State, an idea backed by even some U.S. allies, has placed the Obama administration, which has long clung to an “Assad must go” position in Syria, on the defensive. Although it would require at least a partial U.S. climb-down, Putin’s initiative could help resolve a grinding conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people, facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, and generated a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and neighboring states and the worst migration crisis in the history of the European Union. At the same time, Putin’s address underscored how different the world looks from Moscow’s vantage point—and how inconsistent Russian authoritarianism and realpolitik is with President Obama’s dream of an open, rule-based international order. Read more »

President Obama Tackles UN Peacekeeping

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014 (Larry Downing/Reuters).

Few global summits can compete with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). All the world’s a stage, but the spotlight shines brightest each September in Manhattan, as global leaders gather for UN’s “back to school” night. But while most attention will focus on speeches from the green marble podium, the real action will occur offstage. This year’s most important side event is a special Monday afternoon session on UN peacekeeping, convened by President Barack Obama himself and involving leaders of fifty countries. Its outcome will help determine whether the United Nations gets serious about updating the most important weapon in its arsenal to the realities of the twenty-first century. Read more »

Are You Ready for Some UNGA? What to Expect When Leaders Collide on “Super Monday”

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, China, on November 11, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, China, on November 11, 2014 (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters).

World leaders descend on the United Nations (UN) next week for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The confab gets off to a bang on what might be called “Super Monday,” with addresses in rapid succession from U.S. President Barack Obama (who by tradition speaks second), Chinese President Xi Jinping (fourth), Russian President Vladimir Putin (sixth), and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (eighth). Given U.S. tensions with all three nations, the crowded morning offers ample opportunities for fireworks. The sequencing poses a particular predicament for President Obama, who (on this day at least) won’t get the last word. If he’s too tough on any of the three, he risks verbal retaliation from the podium. If he’s too conciliatory, his legion of domestic critics will depict him as an invertebrate. The trick for the president is to show sufficient spine on fundamental issues but signal willingness to compromise on details. Read more »

Xi Said Yes: How China Got Engaged at the UN

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai, China, on May 19, 2014. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai, China, on May 19, 2014 (Mark Ralston/Reuters).

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

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver his first address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The historic moment is an opportunity to marvel at how dramatically China’s attitude toward the United Nations (UN) has evolved since the days of Mao. Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dismissed the UN as an instrument of U.S. (and broader Western) imperialism. Today, its leaders regard the world body as a useful vehicle for pursuing China’s national interests, demonstrating responsible Chinese behavior, and checking U.S. power and interventionist tendencies. For Beijing, the UN offers a platform to showcase China’s aspirations and growing capacity for constructive global leadership. Accordingly, expect President Xi to trumpet China’s contributions to world order from the podium on September 28. Read more »

Sexual Abuse by Peacekeepers: Time for Real Action

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
UN peacekeepers patrol near a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 7, 2013. UN peacekeepers patrol near a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 7, 2013 (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters).

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

United Nations peacekeeping efforts have long had a dark side: a history of sexual exploitation and abuse against civilians by UN personnel. While the UN has paid lip service to stopping such sexual violence, a recent internal review reveals the still-alarming scope of these crimes—and the failure of the international community to hold perpetrators to account. Read more »

The Good, the Bad, and the Sad of the High-Level Report on UN Peace Operations

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Helmets belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian army are seen as part of preparations for their deployment to Mali. Helmets belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian army are seen as part of preparations for their deployment to Mali (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Charles T. Call, associate professor in American University’s School of International Service and author of Why Peace Fails: The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence (Georgetown University Press, 2012). Read more »

The Iran Deal and the Future of Nuclear Order

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on May 28, 2015. The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on May 28, 2015 (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by my colleague Adam Mount, a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Though the atomic bomb was first developed in 1945, it was not until 1957 that the U.S. intelligence community conducted its first forecast of how nuclear weapons might spread around the world. That first estimate concluded that some ten countries had the capability to build the bomb in the next decade. Six years later, President John F. Kennedy warned that the 1970s could see a world in which twenty-five countries possessed nuclear weapons. This counterfactual—what would the world look like without the nonproliferation regime?—is one of the most important and vexing questions in international politics. Read more »