Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

President Obama Tackles UN Peacekeeping

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, September 25, 2015
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 Thursday, September 24, 2015
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 Tuesday, September 22, 2015
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 »

The EU’s Migration Crisis: When Solidarity and Sovereignty Collide

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Migrants are welcomed as they arrive at the main railway station in Dortmund, Germany September 6, 2015 (Ina Fassbender/Reuters) Migrants are welcomed as they arrive at the main railway station in Dortmund, Germany September 6, 2015 (Ina Fassbender/Reuters)

The wave of migrants surging into the European Union (EU) poses a historic challenge for European integration. Today in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg proposed that all twenty-eight EU member states accept binding quotas for accepting refugees and develop a common European list of safe countries of origin, declaring, “We need more Europe in our asylum policy. We need more Union in our refugee policy.” Read more »

World on the Move: Understanding Europe’s Migration Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, September 3, 2015
Migrants gesture as they stand in the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, on September 1, 2015. Migrants gesture as they stand in the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, on September 1, 2015 (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters).

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

The migration crisis of 2015 makes for somber reading. Seven hundred migrants drowned crossing the Mediterranean from war-torn Libya. Last week, Austrian authorities made the grisly discovery of seventy-one corpses in a truck. Most recently, the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, sparking international outcry. Read more »

Sexual Abuse by Peacekeepers: Time for Real Action

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, August 6, 2015
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 Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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 Thursday, July 23, 2015
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 »

Turning the Tide on Global Ocean Acidification

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, July 21, 2015
A scuba diver swims near a school of swirling jacks off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, in May 2011. A scuba diver swims near a school of swirling jacks off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, in May 2011 (David Loh/Reuters).

Last night I had the honor to participate in a great New York event—the announcement of the winners of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPrize, presented by Foreign Affairs LIVE. Two years ago, the XPrize Foundation announced that they would offer $2 million to any private team that could do something many had considered impossible: create a device to reliably measure the acidity of the deep ocean, while surviving pressures equivalent to hundreds of atmospheres. The big winner was Sunburst Sensors, a tiny company  based in Missoula, Montana, which came in first place for both accuracy and affordability. Read more »

Multilateralism à la Carte: The New World of Global Governance

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A view of the United Nations headquarters in New York. A view of the United Nations headquarters in New York (Eric Thayer/Reuters).

Back in 2001, State Department policy planning director Richard N. Haass coined a catchy new foreign policy phrase: “multilateralism à la carte.” Asked by the New York Times about why the administration of George W. Bush rejected high-profile international treaties like the International Criminal Court, he denied that the White House was “unilateralist”—it was just “choosy.” Rather than sign up to every new commitment, the United States would pick and choose based on which treaty or organization brought more bang for the buck and limited constraints on U.S. freedom of action. Read more »