Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

On Display in Syria: The Costs of UN Security Council Dissensus

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, February 5, 2014
A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013 (Mohamed Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013 (Mohamed Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Syrian foot-dragging in destroying its arsenal of chemical weapons has again exposed the limitations of UN collective security when the Security Council’s permanent members fail to speak with one voice. UNSC Resolution 2118, passed on September 27, 2013, requires the government of Bashar al-Assad to destroy all chemical weapons production and mixing equipment by November 1, 2013, and eliminate all materials by mid-2014. This was always an ambitious deadline given the challenges of loading and securely transporting large quantities of weapons in the midst of a civil war. It is now apparent that the Syrian government will miss its deadline by a wide margin. As of January 30, Syrian forces had transported less than 5 percent of the required material. Read more »

Obama’s State of the Union: Epitaph for Neoconservatism

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

As anticipated, President Obama’s State of the Union address focused overwhelmingly on domestic matters, notably steps to close the yawning income inequality in American society. Still, the speech contained important signals about Barack Obama’s approach to U.S. foreign policy in his last 1,000 days in office. Beyond a full-throated declaration that “climate change is a fact” and a plea to “fix our broken immigration system,” three broad leitmotifs jumped out. The first was the need to return to normalcy after a dozen frenzied years of the global war on terrorism. The second was the imperative of giving diplomacy a chance to resolve the gravest security threats. The third, more rhetorical than substantive, was the necessity of reframing the language of American exceptionalism. Read more »

Geneva II: The Diplomatic Headaches Have Just Begun

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition Ahmad al-Jarba and Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the coalition, arrive for the Geneva 2 talks on Syria, at Geneva International airport January 21, 2014 (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Courtesy Reuters). Leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition Ahmad al-Jarba and Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the coalition, arrive for the Geneva 2 talks on Syria, at Geneva International airport January 21, 2014 (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Courtesy Reuters).

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

How to interpret the diplomatic kerfuffle over the United Nations’ decision to invite—and then disinvite—Iran to the Syria peace conference, scheduled to begin tomorrow in Montreux, Switzerland? Read more »

In Search of “the International Community”

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Members of the United Nations Security Council raise their hands as they vote unanimously to approve a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2013 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters). Members of the United Nations Security Council raise their hands as they vote unanimously to approve a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2013 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters).

“The international community” is among the most commonly invoked and most frequently vilified phrases in world politics. As Tod Lindberg points out in a new CFR working paper, “Making Sense of the International Community”,  the expression has become a verbal tic of sorts for U.S., foreign, and international officials. Thus, when the stability of post-election Kenya in 2007-2008 was threatened by violence, “the international community” sprang into action. When the repressive Burmese junta kept pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Su Kyi in confinement, “the international community” united in condemnation. When Bashar al-Assad shelled the city of Homs in 2012, “the international community” groped for an appropriate response. And so on. Read more »

The Need for a True Foreign Policy of the Internet

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Friday, January 17, 2014
German Chancellor Angela Merkel uses a Nokia slide mobile as she attends a session of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag in Berlin, November 28, 2013 (Fabrizio Bensch/ Courtesy Reuters). German Chancellor Angela Merkel uses a Nokia slide mobile as she attends a session of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag in Berlin, November 28, 2013 (Fabrizio Bensch/ Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy.

Debate in the United States regarding the Snowden revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance has focused on the privacy implications for U.S. citizens. However, the fallout is much greater: NSA revelations threw a lit match onto a number of combustible global disputes that threaten the openness of the Internet itself. Read more »

Combating Human Slavery at Sea

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A Malaysian marine police guides a suspected human trafficker after
being arrested in the Strait of Malacca (Zainal Abd Halim/Courtesy Reuters) A Malaysian marine police guides a suspected human trafficker after being arrested in the Strait of Malacca (Zainal Abd Halim/Courtesy Reuters)

Below is a guest post by Isabella Bennett, assistant director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Many viewers who watched 12 Years A Slave take home the Golden Globe for best picture for its unsparing portrayal of slavery in the antebellum South would probably be shocked to learn that twenty million people around the world continue to toil in bonded labor, often under pain of death—and that the United States has the power to reduce this suffering. Read more »

Guaranteeing That Our Medicines Are Safe: Building a Global Coalition of Regulators

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, January 7, 2014
FDA Building 21 stands behind the sign at the campus's main entrance (Courtesy of the United States Food and Drug Administration). FDA Building 21 stands behind the sign at the campus's main entrance (Courtesy of the United States Food and Drug Administration).

Coauthored with Jeffrey Wright, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Two decades ago, the vast majority of legal drugs consumed in the United States were produced domestically. Today, 80 percent of the active ingredients in medicines used by Americans are fabricated abroad. Home-grown medicines industries have exploded in developing countries like Brazil, India and China. As a result, medicines are compounded many times and cross multiple borders before they reach U.S. pharmacy shelves. Domestic oversight agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are therefore unable to supervise medicines’ production from start to finish, and many foreign counterpart authorities struggle to monitor and enforce adequate standards. Read more »

Good Enough Global Governance

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, January 6, 2014
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seen at the podium of the General Assembly Hall (Mark Garten/UN Photo). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seen at the podium of the General Assembly Hall (Mark Garten/UN Photo).

International cooperation is increasingly taking place outside formal institutions, as frustrated actors turn to informal groups and ad hoc venues. The resulting clutter may be unsightly, but it’s here to stay—so the challenge is to make it work as well as possible. Read my latest article in Foreign Affairs, where I argue for good enough global governance. Available in print or online here.

Global Governance 2014: What to Look for in the Year Ahead

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, December 23, 2013
Participants at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, September 2013. (Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/Courtesy Reuters) Participants at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, September 2013. (Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/Courtesy Reuters)

In 2014, beyond watching triple salchows at the Sochi Olympics and bouncing brazucas at the World Cup, the world has a lot on its plate. Today on CFR.org, I highlight the major events at which the international community will attempt to tackle some of today’s most critical challenges. I outline how the coming year’s major summits will attempt to secure nuclear weapons, regulate the Internet, revive global trade, jumpstart economic growth, protect indigenous peoples worldwide and arrest climate change. Read the entire article here.

Latin America Charts Its Own Course: Reflections on the Mexico City CoC Meeting

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, December 5, 2013
Secretary General of the OAS José Miguel Insulza delivers a keynote speech at the Council of Councils Fifth Regional Conference in Mexico City, at a dinner hosted in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. November 25, 2013. Secretary General of the OAS José Miguel Insulza delivers a keynote speech at the Council of Councils Fifth Regional Conference in Mexico City, at a dinner hosted in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. November 25, 2013.

For more than two centuries the United States has loomed—for good and ill—over its southern neighbors. But that longstanding hegemonic role is fading. After two decades of robust growth and democratic consolidation, Latin America is increasingly charting its own course, not only in the hemisphere but, increasingly, around the globe. The diverse and dynamic region below the Rio Grande may still be America’s “backyard”, but it’s no backwater. And it’s evident that the United States is only beginning to adjust to these realities. Read more »