Compiled by the Peace and Security Team, UNAA Queensland
In many respects, it’s going to be a big year. Whether this evokes the need to ‘brace ourselves’, inspires optimism or prompts us to buy popcorn and watch the drama play out in a series of schadenfreudian episodes is really up to personal preferences and some tossing of coins. What’s more likely is that we will be limited by our energy that we devote to issues that are inherently draining, both cognitively and emotionally. Here is a preview of some of the events which will scream for attention in 2024. There are of course other areas in the world that should not be ignored, it is difficult to spread ourselves too thinly. Here are some other hot spots to watch in 2024.
Israel Invasion of Palestine
Topping the charts as issues to watch is the calamitous invasion of Palestine by Israeli forces. The death toll continues to climb, reports of violations of international law are alarmingly repetitive and the disproportionate casualties of children heart breaking. On top of this is the risk of the conflict spreading to other fronts, such as Israeli operations in Lebanon, or Houthi attacks in the Red Sea which have already triggered retaliation strikes by the US and UK. There is a risk that further escalation could bring in Iran directly, which up until now has been aiding militant groups indirectly. This in turn may bring in additional combatants. Thirdly is the unfolding case brought against Israel by South Africa in the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide. There are more subtle concerns that have long term implications, such as the legitimacy of the West and US leadership (and by association, Australia’s invocation of a ‘rules based international order) Here are some interesting reads to get you up to speed.
- An overview of the political history of that created the conditions in Israel that led to the current operations and how they might be resolved: What is Zionism? ; From Ceasefire to Post-War Government in Israel and Gaza: Punishment, Patronage or Political Legitimacy?
- The possible spread of the conflict, both in terms of geographical location and additional combatants: Hezbollah and Israel; US and UK Strikes on Houthi Targets
- The court case in the International Court of Justice: Has genocide been carried out against Palestinians in Gaza?; South Africa levels accusations of ‘genocidal conduct’ against Israel at world court
- Recently, a focus has been put on the climate costs of wars, and this conflict specifically, with 281,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide having been generated in the 60 days since the intensity of the conflict increased on October 7th: Gaza and Co2 emissions – the climate costs of war
Due to the events in Gaza and Israel, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been competing for headlines. This is perhaps indicative of the military stalemate that exists, with Western-supported Ukraine forces struggling to make any progress against the heavily defended Russian lines. It has turned into a war of attrition and economics. Russia’s economy may be suffering under sanctions, but are committed in a way that Western countries may be unwilling to reciprocate, potentially leaving Ukraine isolated and vulnerable to another Russian offensive. Recent key events can be read here.
Several key elections will take place in 2024, with Taiwan already going to the polls in a presidential election. The US election will likely dominate headlines as the circus that is Trump and his supporters comes to town, which the media can’t resist. However, there are other elections in significant countries that may affect the geopolitical landscape. These include India, the largest democratic country in terms of population in the world, it’s direct neighbour Pakistan, and the European Union. There is also an election in Russia…but no one is predicting anything surprising. In the South Pacific, of note is the general election in the Solomon Islands, recently noted for its improved relations with China. Specific to the United Nations, Morocco won the vote to lead the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2024. This decision has been the subject of protests, especially due to Morocco’s sovereignty claim to the territory of Western Sahara which the UN has listed as a non-self-governing territory and which, under international law, is under military occupation.
Tensions in the Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific region will continue to be a theatre in which we can expect to see tensions continue to play out and potentially escalate. Of note are the tense interactions between the Philippines and China in relation to contested territory.
In what may be a rare ray of sunshine in 2024, (or a hopeless attempt of escapism), the Paris Olympics is set to start on the 24th of July. Against the tableau of events already laid out, this could be much more than a grand sporting event. See our article on mega sporting events and human rights.
There are always things happening in the world of politics and power and it’s hard to keep track. Here are some things that got our attention.