BIPR | Polycrises in World Diplomacy: Preparing for 2024
Polycrises in World Diplomacy: Preparing for 2024
December 14, 2023 - 15:30
Albert (Bert) Gerard Koenders, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senior Advisor to the World Bank on Fragility, The Netherlands
Professor Albert Gerard Koenders responded to four overarching questions: Will 2024 political elections bring destabilization? Is Ukraine's accession into the European Union possible and desirable? What role does Europe play in the war between Israel and Palestine? And, following the COP28, are high-income countries adequately supporting low-income countries in climate adaptation and mitigation?
Firstly, 2023 is ending with geopolitics as complex as ever, the onset of two devastating wars (Ukraine and Russia, Israel, and Palestine) as well as the shifting of power. Koenders described the world order as unpredictable and insecure, leaving elections to play a crucial role. In 2024, over half of the countries in the world will hold political elections, with the most important of these being the United States Presidential election, as this result will have a global impact relating to the existence of NATO, relations between Europe and the US, and the support for Ukraine. Moreover, Taiwan is also important to pay close attention to, as the opposition to the incumbent administration have a vastly different outlook on Taiwan-China relations. This outcome also has the potential to affect future relations between China and the US. Elections in Indonesia and India will codetermine resentment from the Global South towards the West. The European Union will also see many elections, with outcomes that will affect the fate of Ukraine and the future of economic relations between Europe, China, and the United States. Worldwide elections also influence immigration policies, but with conservative parties competing with the far right, and the more leftist parties slowly weakening, there is still a very consequential political battle taking place. Koenders highlights how nothing is preordained, and that sometimes the outcome of a true battle, like the one being fought in Ukraine, is determined by the political battles occurring in Washington, D.C.
Secondly, Koenders succinctly states that Ukraine's accession into the EU is necessary, especially when considering how European security is in a different context than before Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea. As for its feasibility, Koenders believes that it is possible, but it will take a long time as well as an enormous amount of internal change both within Ukraine and the EU. There is also the question about Europe's absorption capacity because if Ukraine were to become a member today, a very large part of the EU's budget would be directed there.
Thirdly, Koenders emphasized how Europe unfortunately does not project much influence in the Israel-Palestine war and is therefore not playing a significant role outside of humanitarian support. Europe is divided about how to proceed in this war, demonstrated by the variety of votes at the most recent UN General Assembly, ranging from full support to abstentions to vetoes. The United States has the most influence to shape the course of this conflict, but after belatedly signaling to Israel that it cannot continue indiscriminately bombing, Koenders does not see a viable solution without outside moderators and more pressure.
Lastly, Koenders focuses on the positives of the COP28, as this year showed an immense amount of interest worldwide. While the hypocrisy from the West remains regarding their own usages of fossil fuels, Koenders remained optimistic that net pollution can be reduced, and low-income countries can develop with adequate financial support from wealthier nations.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senior Advisor to the World Bank on Fragility, The Netherlands
Albert (Bert) Gerard Koenders is Professor of Peace, Security and Justice at the University of Leiden, where he holds the Kooijmans Chair. He is currently Chair of the Dutch Government's Advisory Council on International Affairs and Senior Advisor to the World Bank on Fragility.
From October 2014 to October 2017 Koenders was the Netherlands' Minister of Foreign Affairs, during which time (first half of 2016) the Netherlands held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Koenders' previous appointments include: Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations; head of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Operations in Ivory Coast; negotiator and Co-chair for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Busan Partnership agreement and Minister for Development Cooperation, managing a complex development budget of 5 billion euro. Koenders also sat on the Development Committee of the World Bank. He has worked as Director for the organisation "Parliamentarians for Global Action", was a member of the parliamentary inquiry committee on Srebrenica, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from 2006 to 2007, and was Founder of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, serving as its chair between 2000 and 2007.
From 2000 to 2002, Koenders was visiting professor of Conflict Management at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in Bologna.
Koenders studied Political and Social Sciences, International Economics and African Studies at the Free University of Amsterdam and Johns Hopkins University SAIS.