Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

The Race to Be UN Secretary-General: Five Questions for the Candidates

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, April 7, 2016
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waves as he arrives at the donors Conference for Syria in London, Britain,  on February 4, 2016. (Toby Melville/Reuters) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waves as he arrives at the donors Conference for Syria in London, Britain, on February 4, 2016. (Toby Melville/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.

Next week the United Nations General Assembly will begin a series of informal meetings with candidates for the next secretary-general (SG). The official list of those seeking the United Nations’ top spot is beginning to take shape. Though still far from a truly open and competitive process, this year’s race to succeed current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is already very different from the past. Read more »

An Ever-Looser Union

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, April 4, 2016
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 »

Headed South: Jacob Zuma Leads South Africa toward the Precipice

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, March 7, 2016
Protesters carry placards as they take part in a "Zuma must fall" demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, on December 16, 2015. Protesters carry placards as they take part in a "Zuma must fall" demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, on December 16, 2015 (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters).

—Johannesburg, March 6

South Africa is in the grips of its most serious economic and political crisis since 1994, when the country elected its first post-apartheid government under Nelson Mandela. The African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled the country since its liberation, is on the defensive. Younger South Africans—many born into freedom—are disillusioned by the ANC’s failure to deliver broad-based prosperity in what has become the world’s most unequal nation, in terms of per capita income. Most worrisome, President Jacob Zuma’s government has taken an authoritarian and corrupt turn—at the very moment the country needs bold and honest leadership. Read more »

From Ebola to Zika: Why the World Needs WHO Reform

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Children watch a municipal worker spray insecticide in Recife, Brazil, on January 26, 2016. Children watch a municipal worker spray insecticide in Recife, Brazil, on January 26, 2016 (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Daniel Chardell, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Zika virus spreads like wildfire across the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO), still reeling from the Ebola crisis, has once again come under scrutiny for its management of an infectious disease outbreak. Until last year, Zika, a mosquito-borne pathogen thought to cause microcephaly and incomplete brain development, was unknown in the Western Hemisphere. But microcephaly surged in Brazil in 2015, with evidence suggesting that Zika, a virus originally found in Uganda, is the cause. Read more »

Delivering on Global Health and Development: A View from the Gates Foundation

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Monday, February 1, 2016
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaks with Melinda Gates, as she walks toward a lab for a tour at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, on September 23, 2015. Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaks with Melinda Gates, as she walks toward a lab for a tour at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, on September 23, 2015 (Ellen M. Banner/Reuters).

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

As one of the single biggest funders in global health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has not only helped renew the dynamism and attractiveness of global health, but also played an important part in improving health conditions in developing countries. What role do policy and advocacy play in shaping the global health and development agenda, particularly as it relates to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? What are the implications for development and governance following the adoption of the health-related SDGs? Finally, what role is the foundation playing in pandemic preparedness following the Ebola crisis? Read more »

The Tragic Irony of Syria: The System “Worked”

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, January 28, 2016
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014 (Andrew Kelly/Reuters).

For nearly five years, the UN Security Council has failed to end Syria’s suffering. The numbers are numbing: The war has claimed 250,000 lives and displaced over 50 percent of Syria’s prewar population of twenty-two million. The grinding conflict has deepened sectarian turmoil in the region and created the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe. The tragedy has also laid bare an inconvenient truth about the inherent limits of the Security Council in an era of great power rivalry. Because in Syria, the system worked—just not for the Syrian people. Read more »

States of Failure and Disunion, at Home and Abroad

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, January 13, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016 (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

President Obama delivered an unusually thoughtful State of the Union address last night. Appropriate for his valedictory speech to Congress, the president skipped the usual laundry list of legislative priorities and chose to “talk about the future” instead. He implored his fellow Americans see the world as it is—and the United States as it could be. If there was a unifying theme, it was the growing threat posed by state failure, both domestic and international. The questions that lingered were two: Do Americans have the will to overcome political dysfunction at home? Does the United States have the capacity to ameliorate it abroad? Read more »

Making Sense of “Minilateralism”: The Pros and Cons of Flexible Cooperation

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, January 5, 2016
The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014. The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014 (Jerry Lampen/Reuters).

A defining feature of twenty-first century multilateralism is the rising prominence of alternative forms of collective action as complements to—and often substitutes for—traditional intergovernmental cooperation. Conventional bodies—chief among them, the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions—may persist, but states increasingly participate in a bewildering array of flexible, ad hoc frameworks whose membership varies based on situational interests, shared values, or relevant capabilities. These institutions are often “minilateral” rather than universal; voluntary rather than legally binding; disaggregated rather than comprehensive; trans-governmental rather than just intergovernmental; regional rather than global; multi-level and multi-stakeholder rather than state-centric; and “bottom-up” rather than “top-down.” We see this across issue areas, from the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of Twenty (G20) in the realm of economic cooperation, to the growing importance of regional organizations like the African Union and ASEAN, to the emergence of alternative international financial institutions, like the BRICS New Development Bank. Read more »

2016: Seven Summits to Watch

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, December 30, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations sit together at the forum's 2015 summit in Germany. U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations sit together at the forum's 2015 summit in Germany (Michael Kappeler/Reuters).

From the breakthrough at the Paris climate change conference to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN General Assembly, summits in 2015 heralded major progress in international cooperation. As we ring in the New Year, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for global summitry. Read more »

The Other Election to Watch in 2016: Selecting the Next UN Secretary-General

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, December 17, 2015
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the sixty-fifth session of the UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 1, 2014. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the sixty-fifth session of the UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 1, 2014 (Pierre Albouy/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.

As the scrum of U.S. presidential candidates clamors for attention, another important election kicked off on Tuesday: the selection of the next secretary-general (SG) of the United Nations. As Ban Ki-Moon prepares to step down at the end of 2016, after two five-year terms UN watchers have been speculating for months about his successor—and the process by which he (or she) will be elected. After eight male secretaries-general, pressure is mounting for a woman to take the helm in Turtle Bay. Many expect Ban’s replacement to hail from Eastern Europe, the only region that has not filled the post. Whoever succeeds Ban will confront a daunting global humanitarian crisis, resurgent great power politics, and unprecedented strains on UN peacekeeping. She or he will need to sustain global momentum behind the Paris climate agreement and the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals, while deftly responding to fast moving crises throughout the world. Read more »