About usRisk Barometer 2024 -
Rank 8: Political risks and violence

Expert risk article | January 2024
The world was rocked by further international conflict, coups, and civil unrest in╠ř2023 and the challenges will continue in 2024.
The most important corporate concerns for the year ahead, ranked by 3,069 risk management experts from 92 countries and territories.

Businesses and their supply chains face considerable╠řgeopolitical risks with war in Ukraine, conflict in the Middle╠řEast, and ongoing tensions around the world. Political risk╠řin 2023 was at a five-year high, with some 100 countries╠řconsidered at high or extreme risk of civil unrest [1]. Further╠řunrest is expected in 2024 as economic gloom continues,╠řparticularly in debt-crisis countries, while protestors calling╠řfor action about a number of different causes will aim to╠řcause more disruptive events.

The year was marred by multiple protests in France╠řagainst pension reforms and the murder of teenager╠řNahel Merzouk, which led to intense violence, property╠řdamage and looting. The continued rise of populist and╠řfar-right parties in Europe resulted in electoral success╠řin the Netherlands and Slovakia, reinforcing the political╠řshift of 2022, when Italy elected a party with neo-fascist╠řroots, Hungary re-elected Viktor Orb├ín, and the far-right╠řSweden Democrats took over 20% of the votes in a╠řgeneral election.

Turmoil has also been seen in numerous African countries,╠řnotes Srdjan Todorovic, Head of Political Violence and╠řHostile Environment Solutions at About usCommercial,╠řdriven by the September 2022 coup in Burkina Faso, and╠řfurther successful coups in Niger and Gabon in 2023. While╠řthese coups have been relatively peaceful, Sudan is rapidly╠řescalating into civil war, mainly in its capital Khartoum.╠řEconomic difficulties are challenging many countries,╠řin particular Tunisia, which teetered on the edge of╠řviolence as President Saied continued to rule through╠řdecree and without a Parliament.

Latin America is a region that commonly sees big shifts in╠řpolitics and pre- and post-electoral violence, and 2023 was╠řno exception. Brazil experienced an attack on its National╠řCongress building after the re-election of the leftist Lula╠řda Silva and ousting of Jair Bolsonaro, while Argentina╠řsaw mass protests against the newly elected populist,╠řJavier Milei. In contrast, Guatemala saw supporters of╠řthe president elect, Bernardo Ar├ęvalo, protesting against╠řinstitutions halting his inauguration. While these are mostly╠řintra-state issues, potential cross-border violence could be╠řignited with VenezuelaÔÇÖs territorial dispute with Guyana.

╠ř Ranking history globally:
  • 2023: 10 (13%)
  • 2022: 13 (9%)╠ř ╠ř
  • 2021: 10 (11%)
  • 2020: 11 (9%)╠ř ╠ř
  • 2019: 11 (9%)╠ř ╠ř
╠ř Top risk in:
  • Ivory Coast

The defining moment of 2023 was the Hamas attack on╠řIsrael and the subsequent war in Gaza. This has not only╠řled to thousands of innocent deaths in Gaza but has also╠řincreased pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests globally.╠řThe conflict has quickly escalated beyond its defined╠řborders with the pro-Hamas entities attacking shipping╠řand launching drones and ballistic missiles towards Israel.

Amid all this conflict, 2024 is also a record-breaking election╠řyear, when as much as 50% of the worldÔÇÖs population could╠řgo to the polls, including in India, Russia, the US, and the╠řUK. So many elections raise concerns about the fueling of╠řpopulism and polarization which may manifest in increasing╠řcivil unrest activity. Disillusionment with ruling incumbents╠řand concerns over the fairness of elections, fueled by social╠řmedia, could also ignite unrest in certain territories.

ÔÇťWe anticipate continued challenges to come,ÔÇŁ says╠řTodorovic. ÔÇťIn addition to increased risk of election-related╠řSRCC [strikes, riots and civil commotion], we see clear trends╠řin increased risk of terrorism in Western Europe and North╠řAmerica. This is primarily driven by the Israel and Gaza war╠řleading to a radicalization of certain parts of the population╠řin these regions.

ÔÇťFurther, with more states or governments╠řasserting their territorial claims over others, as well as╠řclaims of border insecurity, the risk of pre-emptive cross-border╠řwars is increasing in certain regions through 2024.ÔÇŁ

[1]╠řVerisk Maplecroft, The Trendline ÔÇô Global political risk at highest level in five years, February 2, 2023

Picture: Adobe Stock

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