Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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 »

The Future of the WHO: Lessons Learned and Priorities for Institutional Reform

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, December 16, 2015
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan attend a meeting at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, during the height of the Ebola crisis on October 1, 2014. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan attend a meeting at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, during the height of the Ebola crisis on October 1, 2014 (Pierre Albouy/Reuters).

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

The unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa underscored the institutional deficiencies of the World Health Organization (WHO). As the world grapples with how to reform the architecture of global health governance, WHO reform remains a point of contention. Why was the WHO unable to respond to the Ebola crisis more rapidly and effectively? Of the reforms proposed by the WHO’s independent review panel and other critics, which are most compelling and realistic? Given the scope of rising global health challenges, how should the WHO prioritize and balance among competing priorities? Read more »

Fiddling in Yemen: A Messy War’s Lessons for Global Conflict Management

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Friday, December 11, 2015
Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015. Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015 (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Coauthored with Callie Plapinger, intern in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the world watches Syria burn, a tiny glimmer of hope shines in Yemen. Today, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that it will use new oversight powers to more closely monitor U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which for nine months has been carrying out a brutal campaign against Houthi rebels that’s left thousands of civilians dead. The news comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, that he would begin a renewed push for peace talks in Geneva next week. To be sure, near-term prospects for peace are low, given the conflicting interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran and the growing presence of both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Even so, the United States should welcome the UN’s latest initiative. More broadly, it should consider what Yemen teaches about the limits of backing proxy interventions—and the need to build up the UN’s multilateral conflict management capabilities. Read more »

Civil-Military Cooperation in International Health Crises

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, December 3, 2015
U.S. soldiers practice the proper way to remove protective gloves at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on October 23, 2014, prior to their deployment to Africa as part of the U.S. military response to the Ebola crisis. U.S. soldiers practice the proper way to remove protective gloves at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on October 23, 2014, prior to their deployment to Africa as part of the U.S. military response to the Ebola crisis (Rick Wilking/Reuters).

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

The Ebola epidemic demonstrated not only the human devastation wrought by lethal infectious disease, but also the broad coalition of actors needed to combat the outbreak. In Liberia, the U.S. military provided logistical and medical support that was integral to stemming the Ebola epidemic. How did armed forces interact and cooperate with civil society and government workers on the ground? What lessons can we learn from civil-military relations during the Ebola outbreak to guide us in future international health crises? Read more »

Paris is Just One Piece of the Climate Change Puzzle

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, November 23, 2015
The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris, France, on November 22, 2015. The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris, France, on November 22, 2015 (Charles Platiau/Reuters).

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

Next week’s Paris meeting on climate change—officially, the twenty-first Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—is shaping up to be a watershed moment in the fight against global warming. Unlike the disappointing 2009 conference in Copenhagen, the Paris summit is expected to produce a strong global agreement that charts the next steps in combatting climate change. Read more »

From MDGs to SDGs: Lessons Learned and Future Directions for Implementing UHC

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, November 19, 2015
A six-year-old migrant from the Congo receives a medical check-up from a doctor at a refugee camp in Munich, Germany, on October 6, 2015. A six-year-old migrant from the Congo receives a medical check-up from a doctor at a refugee camp in Munich, Germany, on October 6, 2015 (Michaela Rehle/Reuters).

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

This year, the United Nations released a new set of development goals called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the previous set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One of the goals includes a target that aims to provide universal health coverage across the globe—a much more ambitious and far-reaching goal than the more targeted health-related MDGs. Read more »

Après Paris: Reverberations of the Terrorist Attacks

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, November 16, 2015
In a French poster popularized during World War I, a French soldier carries a gun and encourages his countrymen under the phrase "On les aura!" or "We will have them!" In a French poster popularized during World War I, a French soldier carries a gun and encourages his countrymen under the phrase "On les aura!" or "We will have them!" (Abel Faivre/Library of Congress).

Following Friday’s horrific assault on Paris—the world’s most vibrant monument to the open society—there is a welcome global determination to crush the Islamic State. There can be no negotiation with this apocalyptic movement. The international response against the perpetrators must be, in the words of French President François Hollande, “pitiless.” Achieving this aim will require a broad coalition, including not only NATO allies but also strange bedfellows like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. There will be necessary debates, of course—about whether to introduce Western (including U.S.) ground forces in Syria and Iraq, about whether to treat the Assad regime as an enemy, bystander, or partner in this effort, and about how the West can escalate its involvement without sparking the global religious war that ISIS desires. An effective response will require the Obama administration to be out in front: there must be no leading from behind in this effort. Read more »

UN Peace Operations: Capitalizing on the Momentum of 2015

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, November 12, 2015
French peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) stand at attention during the visit of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to their base in Deir Kifa village in southern Lebanon on April 20, 2015. French peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) stand at attention during the visit of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to their base in Deir Kifa village in southern Lebanon on April 20, 2015 (Ali Hashisho/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.

United Nations peacekeeping confronts a make-or-break moment. That was the main takeaway from last week’s meeting of senior UN officials and peacekeeping experts in Washington. The gathering came on the heels of two pivotal events: the release of a troubling independent report on the parlous state of UN peace operations, and the peacekeeping summit President Obama himself hosted on the sidelines of the September opening of the UN General Assembly. After years of inaction, UN member states may finally be willing to close the yawning gap between the expanding mandates of peace ops and the resources and capabilities devoted to them. Read more »