Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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 »

The Global Response to Armed Conflict: From Aleppo to Kinshasa

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, February 19, 2014
IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters). IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters).

As the civil war in Syria rages on, and the United States and its international partners appear unable to mobilize a collective response to stem the bloodshed, CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program has launched an update to its Global Governance Monitor: Armed Conflict. The revamped multimedia guide uses a new technology platform to track and analyze recent multilateral efforts to prevent, manage, and respond to armed violence around the globe. Combining stunning images and compelling narrative, it identifies the major successes and failures in global conflict mitigation during 2013. Read more »

Spain’s Welcome Retreat on Universal Jurisdiction

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, February 14, 2014
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon waves as he attends the opening of the 130th term of the Argentina's Congressional ordinary sessions inside the Congress building in Buenos Aires March 1, 2012. Spain's Supreme Court cleared former judge Garzon on Monday of overstepping his authority when he ordered an investigation into the murders of more than 100,000 people by forces loyal to late dictator Francisco Franco. Garzon, internationally known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, had been charged with violating a 1977 amnesty on political crimes, passed to ease the transition to democracy after Franco's rule (Marcos Brindicci/Courtesy Reuters). Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon waves as he attends the opening of the 130th term of the Argentina's Congressional ordinary sessions inside the Congress building in Buenos Aires March 1, 2012. Spain's Supreme Court cleared former judge Garzon on Monday of overstepping his authority when he ordered an investigation into the murders of more than 100,000 people by forces loyal to late dictator Francisco Franco. Garzon, internationally known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, had been charged with violating a 1977 amnesty on political crimes, passed to ease the transition to democracy after Franco's rule (Marcos Brindicci/Courtesy Reuters).

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

By voting Tuesday to curb its judges’ authority to exercise universal jurisdiction, Spain’s national parliament has once again thrust the international legal doctrine of universal jurisdiction into the spotlight. The vote came after a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four senior Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses committed decades ago in Tibet. The shift in Spain’s stance is an opportunity to reflect on why universal jurisdiction rose to prominence, and whether it is an effective means of furthering the goal of ending impunity for egregious human rights violations. Read more »

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 »