The world has been sailing across a tumultuous period marked by crises and clashes. Some key democracies facing democratic decay have elections scheduled for 2024, which could restore faith in democratization and democratic consolidation.
Reviving hope for climate change mitigation, including a green transition away from fossil fuels and the establishment of a fund for climate change adaptation, the UN Climate Summit in the UAE has done well.
The current year is ending, with many parts of the world facing recession, economic turmoil, rising prices, and greater than before unemployment. A stark example of these challenges is the acute food shortages affecting 238 million people in 48 countries, a 10 percent increase from 2022.
The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes the UN climate report, as a code red for humanity, underscoring the irreversible and unprecedented climate changes caused by human activities. The situation is particularly dire for the poor, with approximately 700 million people globally living in extreme poverty.
The last few years have been perplexing internationally, and 2023 was no exception. The unending war in Ukraine and the new humanitarian crisis triggered by Israel’s war on Hamas starting October 7 have only compounded global instability.
The rise of right-wing extremism in politics has become more dangerous. The world has seen a noticeable increase in far-right terrorist activities over the past years, and the US and Europe are not immune to this trend. However, there is a concerning uncertainty in the West towards the threat posed by political extremism in the fight against terrorism.
Even though national pride is natural and can be positive, the current trend toward aggressive and exclusionary nationalism is problematic. This shift is affecting international relations, global and regional cooperation, and domestic social harmony, often negatively.
The most worrying aspect of the rise in nationalism is the erosion of international cooperation, undermining progress in global governance, economic integration, and collaborative efforts to address challenges like climate change.
There is a distressing trend of democracies transforming into electoral autocracies. More countries are holding elections that are not genuinely competitive, with media control and selective law enforcement benefitting those in power. These regimes maintain a semblance of democracy, but in reality, they erode the core principles of true democratic governance.
Assault on democracy, often targeting political rivals by nationalist populist leaders and groups is common. The struggle for democracy reached a critical point in 2023, with many countries experiencing severe declines in political rights and civil liberties. Wars, coups, and attacks on democratic institutions have significantly set back freedom and the rule of law.
Driving global insecurity and instability is the explosive combination of extremism, radical nationalism, and the erosion of democracy. This situation has led to wars, internal violence, displacement, humanitarian crises, and a weakening of the international order in 2023.
This year the restoration of a working relationship between the US and China after a meeting between the two leaders ended their war of words. The threat of nuclear weapons use in current conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East has also subsided. The ceasefire agreement concerning the Tigray conflict, which resulted in an unprecedented number of civilian casualties in 2021 and 2022, continues to hold.
Moreover, the coup in Niger in 2023 did not lead to a regional war as initially feared. However, the weeks of Israel’s intensive bombings and killings in Gaza have escalated into a severe humanitarian crisis.
It is important to acknowledge these challenges and harness the emerging opportunities to create a more stable, just, and sustainable world. Addressing the issues of extremism, nationalism, and the erosion of democratic values requires a multi-faceted approach involving governments, civil society, and international organizations.