New Year
The new year will be shaped by a complex interplay of several challenges and opportunities. It is crucial to harness the emerging opportunities to create a more stable, just, and sustainable world through collective effort. Image Credit: Pixabay

With only a few days left in 2023, we stand on the cusp of welcoming 2024. The past few years have been challenging globally, 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. Despite this, there have been several positive developments in 2023 that inspire hope for the future.

As 2023 draws to a close, economic turmoil is prevalent, with many parts of the world facing recession, rising prices, and increased unemployment. A stark example of these challenges is the acute food shortages affecting 238 million people in 48 countries, a 10 per cent increase from 2022. The United Nations’ alarming report, described by the Secretary-General as ‘a code red for humanity,’ underscores 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 surge in extremism, rampant nationalism, and the decline of democracy poses intricate and troubling challenges to global security and stability. Extremism, fuelled by political, religious, or cultural ideologies, presents a grave threat to world peace.

Increase in fanatic nationalism

While religious terrorism has seen a decrease, political divisions, particularly the rise of right-wing extremism, have become more dangerous. The United States has seen a marked increase in far-right terrorist activities over the past years, and Europe is not immune to this trend. However, there is a concerning ambivalence in the West towards the threat posed by political extremism in the fight against terrorism.

Politically motivated terror acts, fuelled by extremist ideologies, continue to claim more innocent lives and provoke broader conflicts, deepening societal divisions. The year also saw a notable increase in fanatic nationalism. Although national pride is natural and can be positive, the current trend towards aggressive and exclusionary nationalism is problematic. This shift is impacting international relations, global and regional cooperation, and domestic social harmony, often negatively.

In 2023, nationalism has stoked conflicts both within nations and between them worldwide. It has intensified internal divisions, leading to political polarisation and unrest and, in many cases, even violence against migrant and minority groups. On an international scale, nationalist rhetoric and policies have heightened tensions, increasing the risk of conflict and hampering peacemaking efforts.

Addressing the issues of extremism, nationalism, and the erosion of democratic values requires a multi-faceted approach involving governments, civil society, and international organisations.


One of the most concerning aspects 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.

Furthermore, 2023 has solidified a worrying 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.

Nationalist populist leaders and groups are assaulting democracy, often targeting minorities, migrants, and political rivals. 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.

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The convergence of extremism, radical nationalism, and the erosion of democracy have created a volatile mix that drives global insecurity and instability. This situation has led to wars, internal violence, displacement, humanitarian crises, and a weakening of the international order in 2023.

The world has been navigating through a tumultuous period marked by crises and conflicts, but there are also emerging rays of hope that could guide us towards a more stable and prosperous future. We stand at the threshold of a new year, 2024, which brings many challenges.

In 2023, the reestablishment 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. Additionally, the coup in Niger in 2023 did not lead to a regional war as initially feared. Similarly, the 12 weeks of Israel’s intensive bombing of Gaza have not escalated into a broader conflict.

Hope for climate change mitigation

Several key democracies facing democratic decline have elections scheduled for 2024, which could restore faith in democratisation and democratic consolidation. The UN Climate Summit in the UAE has revived hope for climate change mitigation, including a green transition away from fossil fuels and the establishment of a fund for climate change adaptation.

The new year is likely to be shaped by a complex interplay of several of these challenges and opportunities. As we step into 2024, it is crucial 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 organisations.

It is imperative that concerted efforts are made to uphold the rule of law and strengthen international cooperation. The new year presents a unique opportunity for the global community to reaffirm its commitment to these principles and work collectively towards a brighter future.