2024 outlook: a year of proliferating conflicts and instability?

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Peace, Security & Defence
Friends of Europe 2024 Outlook: a year of proliferating conflicts and instability? 2024


As we step into 2024, the world grapples with escalating conflicts and heightened tensions in critical regions. From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East and increasing tensions in the Indo-Pacific, conflicts and instability are on the rise.

While the Russian aggressor has faced challenges in making substantial advancements beyond the territorial gains made in the initial weeks of the war, the Ukrainian counter-offensive in 2023 has subsided, unable to breach Russian defences in the south.

In the Middle East, the protracted war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza could trigger a wider regional confrontation, involving Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and several militias in Syria and Iraq.

In the Indo-Pacific, economic and military pressure exerted by China on Taiwan raises tensions in the region. With William Lai, an advocate for Taiwanese independence, winning Taiwan’s presidential elections, uncertainty over Beijing’s next move lies ahead. China’s threat to reimpose tariffs on certain Taiwanese products signal further escalation.

This instant briefing offered an overview of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, as well as the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific, provided foresight on future developments and highlighted critical elements of these situations to keep an eye on in 2024.

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2024 Outlook: a year of proliferating conflicts and instability?
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  • What assistance is required to help Ukraine advance on the battlefield in 2024?
  • Can Europe play any significant role in preventing further escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, including a wider regional confrontation?
  • What are the potential conflicts looming in the Indo-Pacific, particularly with regard to developments between North Korea and Russia, as well as China and Taiwan


Juraj Majcin

Programme Manager for Peace, Security & Defence at Friends of Europe and Multilateral Advisor at the Extended Reality Safety Initiative (XRSI)

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Photo of Jamie Shea
Jamie Shea

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

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Retiring from NATO in September 2018 after 38 years at the organisation, Jamie Shea has occupied a number of senior positions at NATO across a wide range of areas, including external relations, press and media, and policy planning. As NATO’s spokesperson, he was the face of the alliance during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. He later worked as the director of policy planning in the private office of former secretary general Rasmussen during the preparation of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. Shea is also a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs.

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Paul Taylor

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe

Show more information on Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor is a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe and the author of the think tank’s European Defence Cooperation report series. He previously spent four decades working for Reuters as a foreign correspondent in Paris, Tehran, Bonn and Brussels, as bureau chief in Israel/Palestine, Berlin and Brussels, as chief correspondent in France, as diplomatic editor in London, and finally as European affairs editor. Taylor’s assignments have included covering the Iranian revolution, the Cold War Euromissile crisis, the 1991 Gulf War, German reunification, the Maastricht summit, France in the 1990s, EU enlargement, the Eurozone crisis and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.

sam roggeveen
Sam Roggeveen

Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute

Show more information on Sam Roggeveen

Sam Roggeveen is Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program. Before joining the Lowy Institute, he was a senior strategic analyst at the Office of National Assessments, where his work dealt mainly with North Asian strategic affairs, including nuclear strategy and Asian military forces. Roggeveen also worked on arms control policy in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, and as an analyst in the Defence Intelligence Organisation. He writes for newspapers and magazines in Australia and around the world, and is a regular commentator on the Lowy Institute’s digital magazine, The Interpreter, of which he was the founding editor .



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