Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

Lessons of the Rwandan Genocide

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, April 7, 2014
The skulls and bones of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali, August 6, 2010. Some 5,000 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge near the church in April 1994, but were massacred by Hutu extremists who used grenades, clubs and machetes to kill their victims. Rwandan voters go to the polls on Monday for the second presidential election since the genocide 16 years ago (Courtesy Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters). The skulls and bones of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali, August 6, 2010. Some 5,000 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge near the church in April 1994, but were massacred by Hutu extremists who used grenades, clubs and machetes to kill their victims. Rwandan voters go to the polls on Monday for the second presidential election since the genocide 16 years ago (Courtesy Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters).

Coauthored with Patrick McCormick, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Twenty years ago yesterday two surface-to-air missiles ripped into a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Hutu militias responded by launching a violent genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority. Over the next 100 days, the country became an abattoir. Read more »

The Global Debate Over Illegal Drugs Heats Up

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Mexican soldiers look as 134 tonnes of marijuana are incinerated at Morelos military base in Tijuana October 20, 2010 (Courtesy Jorge Duenes/Reuters). 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 »

Beyond the Nuclear Security Summit: What Remains on the U.S. Agenda

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, March 26, 2014
President Obama delivers a speech on his nuclear agenda in Hradcany Square in Prague, April 5, 2009. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters) President Obama delivers a speech on his nuclear agenda in Hradcany Square in Prague, April 5, 2009. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

Coauthored with Martin Willner, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

President Obama deserves praise for spearheading global efforts to address the threat of nuclear terrorism. As countries gathered for this week’s Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, it was clear that countries had made real progress in securing the world’s most dangerous weapons. Read more »

Nuclear Security Summit 2014: How to Make Progress Even After Ukraine

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, March 24, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are seen in this combination photo as they attend the opening ceremony of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague March 24, 2014 (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are seen in this combination photo as they attend the opening ceremony of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague March 24, 2014 (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Today, fifty-three countries and four international organizations are gathered in The Hague for the third Nuclear Security Summit. Russia’s annexation of Crimea has cast a shadow over the biannual meeting, threatening to distract delegates from the critical task at hand: following through on their commitments to lock down the world’s unsecured nuclear weapons, fissile material, and related technologies. The summit’s success will depend on whether the participating countries are willing to move beyond the harmonization of national pledges to construct a strong framework for nuclear security, undergirded by more powerful conventions and institutions. Read more »

Crimea: Stop Citing International Law and Start Condemning Russian Expansionism

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, March 17, 2014
Participants in a pro-Russian rally wave Russian flags in front of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol March 17, 2014. Crimea formally applied to join Russia on Monday after its leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result in favour of seceding from Ukraine in a referendum condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West that will trigger immediate sanctions (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters). Participants in a pro-Russian rally wave Russian flags in front of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol March 17, 2014. Crimea formally applied to join Russia on Monday after its leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result in favour of seceding from Ukraine in a referendum condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West that will trigger immediate sanctions (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin pulled off a rigged referendum in which an overwhelming majority of Crimean voters chose union with the Russian Federation. But his victory is far from complete. The West retains a powerful card to play: mobilizing international opposition to deny Russia the international legitimacy it seeks for this naked power play.  U.S. and European leaders have roundly condemned the referendum, citing international law. It would be wiser for the West to shift the terms of the debate away from the legal merits of Russian conduct, and to focus instead on the illegitimacy of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s clear aspirations to expand its territory. Read more »

Syria and the Global Humanitarian Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, March 13, 2014
Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters). Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters).

Three years after the outbreak of war in Syria, the agony only deepens for its civilian population. The conflict has already killed 140,000, forced 9.5 million­­—44 percent of the nation’s prewar inhabitants—to abandon their homes, and led some 2.5 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Syrian refugees now constitute more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s population, on top of 400,000 Palestinian refugees already present. In January, the United Nations sponsored a conference in Kuwait City, requesting that international donors provide $6.5 billion in emergency assistance for the victims of the Syria conflict—a figure dwarfing any previous humanitarian appeal. The scale of this effort underscores the magnitude of the human tragedy in Syria. It also points to broader strains and dilemmas confronting the humanitarian enterprise globally. Read more »

At Stake in Ukraine: The Future of World Order

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and reserved the right to use force in Ukraine as a last resort, but he sought to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic (David Mdzinarishvili/Courtesy Reuters). Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and reserved the right to use force in Ukraine as a last resort, but he sought to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic (David Mdzinarishvili/Courtesy Reuters).

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has aptly labeled Ukraine the “biggest crisis in Europe in the twenty-first century.” Indeed, he could have gone further. Read more »

The G20′s Growth Promise: Can They Deliver?

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, February 27, 2014
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew speaks during a news conference at the G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers annual meeting in Sydney

The G20’s Growth Promise: Can They Deliver?

–Sydney, Australia

Last weekend’s meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sydney racked up some notable achievements. The most important was an agreement by the assembled governments to increase global growth by two percentage points over the next five years and to submit detailed national action plans to bring this about. At the same time, the gathering reminded observers how difficult it is to hold G20 members’ feet to the fire to ensure the timely fulfillment of their commitments. Read more »

The Obama Administration Must Act Fast to Prevent the Internet’s Fragmentation

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, February 26, 2014
A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking ''spam'' content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters). A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking ''spam'' content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters).

Here in Sydney, Australia, where I’m attending a conference of CFR’s Council of Councils—a global network of prominent think tanks—a dialogue about the future of Internet governance has highlighted brewing controversy about the management of cyberspace. The conversation has convinced me that the Obama administration has a closing window of opportunity to safeguard international support for an open global Internet. It must immediately quicken dialogue with allies and partners to ensure that outrage over the NSA spying program does not result in the irreparable fragmentation of cyberspace. Read more »