THREAT SPECTRUMMajor Global Security Challenges

By Joshua Dunne, Jasmine Latimore, Yvonne Lau, Hsi-Ting Pai, Stephan Robin and Ben Stevens

Published 1 December 2022

What are the major threats the world is facing? Researchers highlight five such threats: The growing role of disinformation; attacks on the idea of democracy; environmental challenges; economic instability; and terrorism – both domestic and foreign.

Planet A
Delegates to the COP27 summit from nearly 200 countries last weekend agreed to establish a ‘loss and damage’ fund, which is intended to compensate developing and climate-vulnerable countries that suffer from global heating and weather extremes. The fund is a response to longstanding calls for industrialised nations to pay climate reparations and has been described as a new method to build trust and solidarity.

Details of the fund, including financial and structural arrangements, still need to be negotiated and considerable challenges to securing funding remain. It’s also unclear whether current bilateral arrangements, such as Australia’s climate change and resilience funding to the Pacific, might change under this new deal.

While the announcement of the fund has brought some optimism in the climate fight, the summit’s failure to reach agreement on a strong commitment to curbing fossil fuels has many worried about the prospects for limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which will ultimately determine the extent and severity of climate disruptions.

Democracy Watch
The human cost of Iran’s anti-regime protests continues to rise, with latest estimates putting the death toll at more than 300. Around 16,000 protestors have been arrested so far, and human rights groups are raising the alarm about the experiences of minors in the government crackdown. At least 33 people under the age of 18 have been killed by security forces and an estimated 500–1,000 minors are being held in detention.

Sparked initially by outrage at the death in police custody of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on 16 September, the protests have come to represent people’s broad dissatisfaction with the power of hardline clerics in the Islamic republic, with women and young people taking a leading role. The protests show few signs of abating, and government forces are turning to increasingly brutal methods of repression. Security forces are now reportedly raiding schools to intimidate and arrest students suspected of having any connection to or sympathies with the protests.

Between the heavy-handed response from the government and the clear determination of the protestors, prospects for a peaceful resolution appear dim.

Information Operations
French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of conducting a disinformation campaign in Africa that seeks to undermine France’s reputation and interests by blaming the West for current food shortages. Macron said he was also concerned that other states were pushing predatory misinformation to gain greater influence across the continent.