Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

This Is Your UN on Drugs: From Prohibition to Flexibility in Counternarcotics Policy

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, April 19, 2016
A Mexican Federal Judicial policeman carries uprooted marijuana plants towards a bonfire as smoke fills a clandestine plantation some four miles east of Santa Cruz de Alaya, in Sinaloa state. (Reuters photographer/Reuters) A Mexican Federal Judicial policeman carries uprooted marijuana plants towards a bonfire as smoke fills a clandestine plantation some four miles east of Santa Cruz de Alaya, in Sinaloa state. (Reuters photographer/Reuters)

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

World leaders gather at the United Nations this week (April 19-21) for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem. This is the first such event since 1998, when member states committed themselves to policies aimed at eliminating illegal drugs by 2008. Trillions of taxpayer dollars and many destroyed lives later, that goal remains elusive—and illusory. This year’s UNGASS offers an overdue opportunity to rethink the war on drugs, and to appreciate how much attitudes have changed over the last eighteen years. Simply put, the longstanding global consensus behind prohibition is fracturing. Though there is little appetite to overhaul the three main international treaties—the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Expanded Convention, and the 1988 Convention against Drug Trafficking—a growing number of governments are calling for greater national flexibility in interpreting and enforcing these international obligations. Read more »

The Nuclear Security Summits: Welcoming Strangers Bearing Gifts

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Friday, April 15, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama walks onstage for his press conference at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, on April 1, 2016. U.S. President Barack Obama walks onstage for his press conference at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, on April 1, 2016 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Naomi Egelresearch associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

The nuclear security summits, one of President Obama’s greatest legacies, have unquestionably made the world safer by reducing global quantities of fissile materials and improving the security of existing nuclear and radioactive materials. When President Obama hosted the first such summit in 2010, there was plenty of skepticism about what an ad hoc gathering of heads of state could accomplish. But that meeting surpassed expectations—as did subsequent ones in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014. World leaders arrived at each summit with meaningful pledges to lock up the world’s most dangerous materials—and they followed through on them. The fourth (and last) summit, held just two weeks ago (March 31-April 1, 2016) in Washington, went even further. It established mechanisms to ensure continued progress on nuclear security without summitry. Read more »

A New Approach to Global Health Governance

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, April 14, 2016
World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan delivers a speech during a summit on health and sanitary security in Lyon, France, on March 23, 2016. World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan delivers a speech during a summit on health and sanitary security in Lyon, France, on March 23, 2016 (Francois Mori/Reuters).

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

Over the past fifteen years, global health has become increasingly politicized. Development commitments through the Millennium Development Goals, foreign policy interests, and global health security concerns have been primary drivers of global health governance. The security approach has been successful in mobilizing Western governments and leaders—such as the Group of Seven (G7)—to address public health emergencies of international concern. Now this cohort of leaders is seeking to expand efforts to address other global health challenges, such as inequity and universal health coverage. This new political environment requires a novel approach to global health governance. On the one hand, classic development aid is shrinking, and on the other, the global health policy space is expanding rapidly. What’s more, rising powers have discovered that public health aid can serve as a vital element in efforts to build alliances and charm new friends. This occurs at a time when the growing refugee and humanitarian crisis requires new financing models. Read more »

Surface Tension: Chinese Aggression Roils Southeast Asian Waters

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015. Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015 (Erik De Castro/Reuters).

In telling the Group of Seven (G7) yesterday to butt out of its controversial maritime claims in East Asia, China has doubled down on an historic strategic blunder. Beijing’s belligerence in the South China Sea is especially imprudent. By refusing to compromise on its outrageous sovereignty claims, the government of Xi Jinping discredits its “peaceful rise” rhetoric and complicates efforts by member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “triangulate” between China and the United States. Continued Chinese muscle-flexing will only undermine support for president Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and push regional fence-sitters into the U.S. embrace. The most promising outcome for all concerned would be a face-saving climb-down by China. Under this scenario, Beijing would promote détente rather than confrontation—without explicitly abandoning its jurisdictional claims. These are the main takeaways from a week’s worth of discussions with officials, policy analysts, and academics in China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Read more »

A G20 Agenda for China: Meeting the World’s Infrastructure, Climate, and Development Needs

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2016. Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2016 (Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters).

This week thousands of government officials, journalists, academics, and private sector and civil society representatives convene in Washington for the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But the most important event for global economic governance occurs later this year. And it won’t be in the United States. In September, China will host the eleventh summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) in the eastern city of Hangzhou, one of the country’s ancient capitals. Read more »

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 »