Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "Weak and Failing States"

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 »

Ending Syria’s Agony: Lessons from Other Civil Wars

by Stewart M. Patrick
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk during their meeting in Moscow, May 7, 2013. Russia and the United States agreed on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference this month on ending the civil war in Syria, and said both sides in the conflict should take part. (Mladen Antonov/Courtesy Reuters) Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk during their meeting in Moscow, May 7, 2013. Russia and the United States agreed on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference this month on ending the civil war in Syria, and said both sides in the conflict should take part. (Mladen Antonov/Courtesy Reuters)

Tuesday’s agreement between Moscow and Washington to convene an international conference on Syria raises some obvious questions. After a brutal conflict that has killed more than seventy thousand, is a negotiated peace between government and rebels forces plausible? And even if a settlement can be negotiated, is it likely to hold? 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 »

Is the International Community Growing Apart?

by Stewart M. Patrick
Delegates sit for a Security Council meeting to discuss Peace and Security in the Middle East during the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesty Reuters) Delegates sit for a Security Council meeting to discuss Peace and Security in the Middle East during the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesty Reuters)

In this radio interview on From Washington Al Mundo of February 13, 2013, Dr. Stewart Patrick explains how and why the world is increasingly complicated as emerging democracies promote a diverse range of interests. Exploring issues of traditional power competition, cybersecurity, and the eurozone crisis, Patrick explains the current state of multilateral cooperation. He goes on to discuss the deadlock in the UN Security Council concerning the situation in Syria and explore governance issues in South America. Read more »

Collateral Damage: How Libyan Weapons Fueled Mali’s Violence

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for 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). 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 »

A New Agenda for the G20: Addressing Fragile States

by Stewart M. Patrick
People walk along Red Square, with Saint Basil's Cathedral in the background, in central Moscow where the G20 summit  will be held later this year. (Denis Sinyakov/Courtesy Reuters) People walk along Red Square, with Saint Basil's Cathedral in the background, in central Moscow where the G20 summit will be held later this year. (Denis Sinyakov/Courtesy Reuters)

– Moscow

Having recently assumed the rotating chair of the Group of Twenty (G20), the Russian government is now soliciting input on the agenda for its September 2013 meeting in St. Petersburg. Yesterday I contributed to these deliberations as a member of the “Think20”network—a consortium of independent experts from around the world. My own advice to the Russian sherpa, Ksenia Yudaeva, was that Russia should transform the G20’s nascent development agenda to address the pressing challenge of fragile states. Read more »

Understanding Illicit Networks

by Stewart M. Patrick
Police officers look on as a road roller is used to destroy confiscated pornographic DVDs and pirated publications in Xi'an, China, province March 17, 2011. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters) Police officers look on as a road roller is used to destroy confiscated pornographic DVDs and pirated publications in Xi'an, China, province March 17, 2011. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters)

We all know that, in recent decades, businesses have internationalized their operations like never before, but a less well-known result of globalization is that transnational criminal enterprises have also benefited enormously. Sophisticated illicit networks have emerged around the world, adept at exploiting the disjunction between global economic integration and the persistence of sovereign states. Global commerce now relies on countless shipping containers, which are rarely checked for contraband. The liberalization of capital movements and the ubiquity of information technology enables money laundering at the push of a button. Law enforcement authorities, trapped within national borders and independent jurisdictions, are running in place as illicit actors hopscotch across sovereign frontiers and exploit asymmetries in the policing of trade in narcotics, humans, weapons, and other illicit commodities. Read more »

A “New Deal” for Fragile States? Promises and Pitfalls

by Stewart M. Patrick
An East Timorese refugee family gathers around their camp in Dili, February 18, 2008.  East Timor's government and the United Nations have started a programme to relocate some 30,000 refugees living in camps that dot the capital. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters) An East Timorese refugee family gathers around their camp in Dili, February 18, 2008. East Timor's government and the United Nations have started a programme to relocate some 30,000 refugees living in camps that dot the capital. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

For the past decade, the challenge of weak and failing states has dominated the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Once dismissed as third tier strategic concerns, poorly governed and conflict-ridden states rose to unprecedented prominence after 9/11. Al-Qaeda’s ability to launch the most devastating attack on the United States in U.S. history from one of the most wretched countries on earth persuaded George W. Bush, in the words of the 2002 National Security Strategy, that the nation was “now threatened less by conquering states than we are by weak and failing ones.” Allied nations and international organizations from NATO to the United Nations drew the same conclusion, describing the world’s forty-odd fragile states as “weak links” in the chain of global collective security, generating risks ranging from jihadist terror to transnational crime, WMD proliferation to infectious disease. Read more »