What are the three most relevant, potentially destabilizing challenges the world is facing in 2018?

Like every year, we will have a look at the year to come:

Dear experts,

what are the three most relevant, potentially destabilizing challenges the world is facing in 2018?

And what are the three developments you would welcome most in global politics next year?

Given the coming holidays, I would appreciate it if many of you would respond. It may be short.

Season’s greetings, and – despite your maybe skeptical forecasts: Happy New Year.

– Klaus Segbers

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 6 months ago

    Three challenges facing 2018 are:
    1. Accommodating Jerusalem as a capital of the State of Israel.
    2. Accommodating Chinese “One Belt, One Road” as a win-win transregional initiative.
    3. Returning to peace in the Middle East.

    Three developments I will welcome the most:
    1. A final blow to international terrorism.
    2. Rejections of war rhetoric and violence in the world.
    3. A return to a constructive cooperative agenda between the great powers.

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  2. Dmytro Sherengovsky 6 months ago

    In general, 2018 year will not differ greatly from the agenda of 2017. Nevertheless, our attention should be paid to such challenges that may destabilize the already turbulent situation. The military conflict in the Korean peninsula could escalate and involve Korean countries, regional powers, and the US. The Middle East will save its status of the hottest regions with the possible aggravation of tension between parties involved in the Syrian war and active involvement of Iran in regional conflicts.
    The last, but not the least headache will bring populistic and radical parties, that could potentially win an electoral race in Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Mexico, Brazil.
    On the contrary, if these developments happen, they will stabilize the political situation in the regions and make it more predictable. First of all, affected by a political crisis, the EU starts to build more comprehensive approaches to SFSP and CSDP, that increase its ability to act more consolidated and rapidly in the critical situations. The new agenda on combating cybersecurity threats will be adopted, in particular, to prevent the data breach in the governmental sector and business that can influence electoral processes. The last one – formation of vital modus operandi for Ukrainian conflict transformation process, that will not lead to the prompt resolution of conflict, but ensure its stabilization

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  3. Thilo Bodenstein 6 months ago

    The European Union will face continuing challenges in 2018. The Fidesz party will win the next parliamentary elections by a comfortable margin. The Commission has opened proceedings against the Polish government under Article 7. Both Poland and Hungary will continue to promote their anti-European visions. Europe’s East-West divide will deepen further. North Korea will remain another major challenge. Kim Jong-un will launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Facing midterm elections in 2018 President Trump may use the rally ‘round the flag effect and increase pressure on North Korea with unpredictable consequences. Next year will also see presidential elections and the World Cup in Russia. President Putin is likely to win, but the social media campaign of Alexei Navalny makes political survival in a hybrid regime more difficult. Putin might piggyback off a successful World Cup and resort again to more assertive foreign policy to secure his position.

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  4. Hildegard Müller 6 months ago

    No doubt about it: 2017 was marked by the rise of populist and nationalist forces. To
    name but a few: the AfD in Germany, the PVV in the Netherlands or the Front
    National in France and other nationalist movements in Eastern Europe. The situation
    in the EU is enhanced by the Brexit that will keep us busy. Those political trends
    cannot only be found on the European landscape: the policy of President Trump is
    shaped by isolation and unilateralism. Given the major destabilizing challenges of
    separatism, unilateralism and populism the world is still facing in 2018, it is time to
    counter. What I would welcome most next year: Firstly, the European Union should
    be re-strengthened, especially by drawing the eastern countries closer back to the
    values of the EU. Secondly, with view to international cooperation, the EU cannot
    only rely on the U.S., alliances with other states have to be intensified. Finally, from
    my personal “energy perspective”, falling prices of renewable energies are offering
    great potential to cover the high energy demand in developed and developing countries.

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  5. Justas Paleckis 6 months ago

    Yes, on the eve of 2018 skeptical mood prevails. Next year most probably we will see the unprecedented arms race in recent decades. The ideological confrontation of the Cold War era will be replaced by the no less dangerous contradiction: the USA – Russia plus China (additionally, the leaders of all three countries are very fond of surprises). Regional conflicts in the Far East (US-North Korea), the Middle East (tension between states surrounding Syria), and, finally, Russia-Ukraine can inflame and cross the region.
    Maybe Europe will put forward leaders who could at least try to manage these challenges? Maybe the word “detente” will return to the international dictionary? Perhaps the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries will finally realize that only by uniting forces can we overcome the threats that will lead to a global catastrophe (climate change, the destruction of nature, the growing gap between the richest and poorest states, people, etc.). Maybe after all, the reformed UN takes such a task? There is life there is hope.

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  6. Sergei Medvedev 6 months ago

    CHALLENGES

    1. The menacing merger between new information technologies (AI, VR, big data, social networks) and authoritarian regimes and institutions, as evident e.g. from the total surveillance and rating system for the Chinese population, abuse of Facebook algorithms by interest groups, collection of personal data by governments and corporations, sensory capture and enhanced manipulation technologies, etc.

    2. Re-election of Vladimir Putin in March 2018 and the unpredictable (d)evolution of the regime in Moscow, becoming one of the most toxic and disruptive elements of world politics, a North Korea with global ambition and residual military prowess

    3. Donald Trump at the White House, the loose cannon of the international system, damaging further areas of world politics, from the Middle East to Transatlantic relations, from nuclear arms control to environmental protection.

    OPPORTUNITIES

    1. The Green Revolution in energy, from alternative sources to groundbreaking technologies in energy storage, undermining the position of oil corporations and governments attached to oil power

    2. “Youthquake”, the emergence of the newly active, networked and connected, and politically engaged generation challenging the power of the old corrupt elites in the West, East and South alike.

    3. Blockchain and the distributed technologies of information storage, challenging the monopoly of the nation-state on classification and registration in finance, economy and government, the ‘uberization’ of the state.

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  7. Klaus Segbers 6 months ago

    The three worrisome challenges may be: 1, growing uncertainties in peoples’ perceptions of the state and direction of global affairs, leading to emotional and populist voting; 2, unintentional escalatory moves by actors finding themselves later under pressure to follow up, or just mismanaged incidents, leading to counter reactions (South China Sea, Northern Europe, Middle East); underestimation of AI developments. Three possibly welcome developments: 1, a new dynamism in and for the EU after realizing that it is time to grow up – the U.S. is no longer the benign father; 2, new ideas re. how to incentivize current and future migrants in a way that reduces risks for themselves, and also for potential host societies; 3, the emergence of playful ideas how to reduce the phenomenon of echo chambers in media, especially social networks, and how to re-learn browsing in different spheres of life, i.e regaining curiosity.

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  8. Friederike Kies 6 months ago

    In 2018, I believe the world will be facing the following three most relevant, potentially destabilizing challenges:
    1. Rising populism,
    2. National protectionism and
    3. Political leaders failing to grasp their people´s fears and needs.
    What are the three developments I would welcome most in global politics next year?
    1. More reflection of one´s own behavior,
    2. Exchange between nationalities, thus focusing on the values that unite us, rather than the issues that divide us.
    3. Political leaders that are aware of their great responsibility and act accordingly.

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  9. Tobias Lechner 6 months ago

    What I fear most in 2018:
    1. Further consolidation and expansion of autocratic regimes, especially in Asia
    2. Africa: further increase of the disastrous spiral population growth, unemployment, crime, corruption, kleptocracy, political instability, violent conflicts, mass migration …
    3. Terrorist attacks by non-state actors, in Europe mainly religious, left extremist and right extremist terrorism
    What I would welcome most in 2018:
    1. Peace and stability in MENA, especially Syria and Libya
    2. A well-working security cooperation within the European Union
    3. Trump resigns voluntarily

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  10. Mina Sumaadii 6 months ago

    Three destabilizing challenges:
    1. The nuclear-missile potential of North Korea. It will probably continue the missile tests, which might turn Trumps tweets into real war.
    2. The elections in the United States House of Representatives and Elections to the United States Senate. The stakes are high for Trump.
    3. The Yemen civil war – another highly destabilizing factor for the Middle East.
    Three welcome developments:
    1. Increase of humanitarian aid for refugees according to the request of aid agencies on the ground.
    2. Decrease of climate skepticism.
    3. Control of fake news, but exposure and labeling of their content rather than complete censorship and deletion.

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  11. Wang Mengyao 6 months ago

    2017 has witnessed the unexpected result of the U.S. president election. Thus, among the three most relevant, potentially destabilizing challenges the world is facing in 2018, I think, the foremost is the role played by the U.S. under Trump’s administration. Along with this, how other powers, especially EU and China, react is also uncertain. The retreat of the superpower from global affairs regarding some crucial issues would leave vacuum and vacuum, like shown in history, awaits the fulfilment by other candidates immediately. The last but not the least, Middle East remains the cradle of unstable regime and ferocious conflicts.
    However, I am very curious about the changes in the impending year, considering the incredible boost of AI. In 2017, AlphaGo defeated human and AlphaGo Zero defeated its previous version. I have no further imagination about how AI can be applied and how it impacts human society but this is definitely the development I welcome most.

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  12. Ivanna Didur 6 months ago

    2017 continued to unfold global events of 2016 such as the election of Donald Trump and Brexit. In 2018 we shall see further development of these events. It remains questionable whether Mr. Trump will remain president. The results of further investigations of Russia’s role in the elections and whether the President’s son-in-law has any relation to this will also influence the political arena. Even if there will be no rapid change in the named directions, the upcoming election to the House of Representatives and 1/3 seats to the Senate will show what support do the Republicans and Mr. Trump have among the US citizens. Will the Democrats initiate impeachment if they occupy the Senate?

    On the European part of the globe negotiations on Brexit will also continue to unfold giving more clarity on how UK’ leave from the EU may look. 2018 will have to give clarity on this as any Brexit will need to be approved internally.

    Another challenge ahead is the Presidential elections in Russia. Though the result itself is rather predictable, the events and potential tensions surrounding the elections may give a clue to the feelings of the masses and whether people will allow Mr. Putin to be Russia’s second longest serving leader after Stalin.

    In these and other events, it would be advisable for the leaders to remember about the ideas of democratic societies and to cooperate for the sake of mankind and development.

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  13. Anastasia Wischnewskaja 6 months ago

    2017 has been intense and there is no reason to think that 2018 will be more relaxed. There will be many more than three potentially destabilizing challenges the world will face but from my professionally skewed and bias perception the most important ones will be the fate of the EU, rising Chinese influence and the outcome of the election in Iraq. Today’s decision of the EU to launch sanctions against Poland might have severe consequences even though it is a legitimate one. Rising Chinese influence has been discussed throughout the year, especially at its end with terms like “sharp power” being coined. With Xi Jinping in power for (at least) another 5 years, Chinese global aspirations will rise. Last but not least, the process and the outcome of the elections in Iraq might have important implications for the entire region. I am especially curious about the fate of the Kurdish population there. As for the wishful thinking, aka developments I would like to see, I will probably be not the only one to say that having a real outcome of the of the COP24 environmental summit in Katowice would be a nice thing. I would also love to see further reforms in Uzbekistan, which is currently silently undergoing tremendous transitions under its new president. As for us in Germany, I would highly appreciate if we could have a government sometime in 2018. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all fellow contributors and co-discussants!

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  14. Nikoloz Tokhvadze 6 months ago

    1. The Korea peninsula will further heat up in 2018. We have not seen much breakthrough this year while the improvement of N. Korean nuclear capabilities has been advancing with a swift pace. Meanwhile, inconsistent attitude and fluctuating signals from the US administration will further undermine credibility of the US determination and incentivize Kim Jong-un to carry on with tweaking his arsenal.

    2. On the EU side, the current challenges will continue to persist with a growing cleavage between the western and the Easter European EU members, their values and interests. Migrant crisis will act as a further catalyst. Islamist incidents will be further exploited by the far right political groups to surf the populist wave, especially in light of completing Syria crisis that opens door and creates an opportunity for them to demand return of the migrants to their homelands.

    3. Lastly, Increased competition and potentially – hostility between the US and China that resonates well with the first prediction above – the Korean peninsula. The President Trump demonstrated an unique talent of turning allies into opponents, which might put the EU into an awkward seat and create historically unseen before constellation of friends and foes.

    Other, minor challenges might be imposed by technology as we, for the first time, may savor the disturbances that the A.I. war between hi-tech giants and different states can cause.

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  15. Mariya Puriy 6 months ago

    The 2017 has been a rather dynamic year for all of us and no doubt that 2018 will be any different. In my opinion, three most relevant, potentially destabilizing challenges the world is facing in 2018 are: 1. further spread of populism, that will undermine the existing social orders in a growing number of states; 2. rising influence of China on a global scale, provoking further aggravation of the political situation not only in the South-East Asia region, but on a global scale as well (particular attention drawn to its relations with the US under Trump); 3. presidential elections in Russia, that have a rather high chance of becoming a clear demonstration of Russia going authoritarian, which will have direct influence on, firstly, the geopolitical climate within the Post-Soviet space (in particular the Russia-Ukraine conflict), secondly, on Russia’s image as a global player. As to the three developments I would welcome most in global politics next year, they are: 1. Trump’s voluntary resign from the office; 2. mindful, worldwide assessment of such pressing global challenges as terrorism and cyber security; 3. sustainable development goals becoming one of the top 5 discussed items on the 2018 global agenda.

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5 Comments

  1. Adriana Volenikova 6 months ago

    – Lack of political will of “great powers” to hold a sincere and open dialogue on matters of critical importance, such as nuclear disarmament, military build ups and climate change, just to mention a few;
    – Terrorism;
    – Right-wing populism.

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  2. Sirous 6 months ago

    i think the biggest challenge the world faces right now and will in the next year is Trump! he is about the undo the JCPOA and start a war with Iran because of the provocations of KSA, UAE and Israel. he is also on the brink of starting another war with North Korea. he is also clearly racist and with more time, would show his true face and this could unravel protests and civil unrest in the US.

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  3. Arseniy Frolov 6 months ago

    Key threats:
    1. Inability of the ruling mainstream liberal establishment to reaccess the ongoing situation and give room to right-wing ideas; liberal media hegemony and employment of the media as a coersive tool to artificially exploit the feeling of shame; fake news. This way we will loose pluratity of ideas.
    2. Cyber security in all it’s forms. Digital penetration, digitalization of such things as cars which can cause serious damage is hacked.
    3. Military tensions around the world.

    Overall, the world sure could use a little bit more of decency.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  5. HOENG Keo Chetra 3 months ago

    To list out the most potentially challenging issues that our global world will face, i would personally assume that the first issue is 1-the question of a more uncertain world system with the emergence of “populism”, the ideology which is becoming increasingly important and have already started to challenge the normative goal of International Organization. The evidence became clear once Donald Trump elected as president with the slogan “American first or American great again”, and majority voices in EU parliamentary election were claimed by populist leaders such as Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and others… this had led to withdrawal from prevailing collective problem solving mechanism such as global warming to international humanitarian responsibility on refugee crisis in EU. The world will shift toward a more self-centric and away from normative goal of creating international system to tackle collective issues together. And this is still being the unsolved question and continue to be so…..for a challenging future to come. ASEAN integration will be my second challenging issue, as the question is how deep integration within ASEAN member would be compare to EU integration with process of institutionalizations. The answer is simple! ASEAN WAY! It means ASEAN values EU integration as mature and more experience but its member prefer its own way in solving things out. Ranging from the principle of non-interference in internal to external affair, ASEAN prefer bilateral negotiation rather than multilateral meeting like the EU. The challenging future for me is in what way and how ASEAN continue to increase its important as a major regional organization and playing an effective role in tackle regional issues? And this will be the prevailing question remained unsolved for the time being. My third and final global issue will be Globalization itself. We view our changing world environment differently. From the view of liberal democracy, we are enjoying our lives like never before, started from technological advancement to global goods and services, international trade and capital flow across borders on a daily basis. The aspect of trans boundary MNCs lead to labor division, our world enjoyed its prosperity and continue to be so in generations to come. While critics view Globalization as a threat to state system in different ways, ranging from sovereignty, challenging voices by MNCs, NGOs and private actors to identity issues, religious war and terrorism, all are bad and increasingly become worse.

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