Security and cooperation at Davos 2024
Global Cooperation

Security and cooperation at Davos 2024: What to know

Deep dive

‘Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World’ is one of the four pillars of the Forum's 2024 Annual Meeting. Image: Forum/Marcel Giger

Spencer Feingold
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • ‘Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World’ is one of the four pillars of the Forum's 2024 Annual Meeting.
  • Heads of state and leaders from politics, business and international organizations are gathering amid a fragile backdrop for global peace and security.
  • Here's what to know about security and cooperation at Davos 2024.

Twenty twenty-three was another year that reminded the world of the fragile state of global peace, security and cooperation.

The escalation of conflict in the Middle East could have consequences that reach far beyond the region, the war in Ukraine continues and numerous other factors combine to create a tense geopolitical landscape as we enter 2024.

Geopolitical tensions are also increasingly taking a toll on other issue areas. This includes effects on efforts to foster international trade, spur economic growth, mitigate the climate crisis and safely develop advanced technologies.

The far-reaching impact of geopolitics is why ‘Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World’ is one of the four pillars of the 2024 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, taking place from 15–19 January in Davos, Switzerland.

Agenda

Over 60 heads of state attended Davos 2024. Here's what they had to say

In Davos, heads of state and top political leaders – including Li Qiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China; Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine; Emmanuel Macron, President of France – as well as heads of international organizations and leading issue area experts are gathering to discuss how to effectively deal with security crises, such as the current situation in the Middle East, while at the same time assuaging the structural forces of fragmentation.

Here’s what’s happening around security and cooperation at Davos 2024.

Live updates on key sessions

Here is a selection of some of the must-watch sessions on security and cooperation at Davos 2024.

What to know from Day 2

What does the current state - and future - of global collaboration look like? We launched our report, produced with McKinsey & Company, which explores just this.

Against a complex global security environment, how can we strengthen it for the future? Speakers included Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General.

More than 4 billion people around the world are set to go to the polls this year. Ministers from India and the Czech Republic, Smriti Zubin Irani and Jan Lipavský, joined others to look at the risks of cyber threats.

Gitanas Nausėda, the President of Lithuania, joined this session on Ukraine, as nearly two years of war have left lives and livelihoods ravaged.

The war in Ukraine has been a "profound strategic failure" for Russia and Vladimir Putin, Blinken told Davos. "The strategic picture looks very different from the day-in, day-out challenges on the battlefield."

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What to know from Day 3

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, President-elect of Belarus, joined Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, and Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia, to discuss defence cooperation across Europe.

Are we tired? Yes, we are tired. We’ve been fighting for two years. Are we giving up? No, we are not. It doesn’t matter how tired or exhausted we are, we’ll continue defending our country.

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine

We in Belarus fully understand that without a free Ukraine there will be no free Belarus... We don’t have a right to feel fatigue.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, President-elect of Belarus

Political leaders from across the Middle East came together against the backdrop of escalating violence in the region. They included Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, Vice-President of the Presidential Leadership Council of Yemen, and the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen.

The panelists acknowledged the complexity and interconnected nature of conflicts in the region, while Vali Nasr, Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University, assessed the potential for an escalation.

The war is escalating. So long as the Gaza war is not ended, it's not de-escalating. And the next shoe is going to fall when the humanitarian crisis really hits hard.

Vali Nasr, Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University

"So long as the United States and Europe don't have any plan for ending this war, and Israel is not ready to do it, we are in an escalatory mode," said Nasr. "So we shouldn't kid ourselves. The war is ongoing. It's going through phases. It's not bombing, it's not starvation. It's now a humanitarian crisis. So that's escalating."

Dr. Karin von Hippel, Director-General, Royal United Services Institute, addressed the impact the US could have in the Middle East and the challenges it faces.

“In some ways, I think people overestimate what the United States can do in the region... the US is playing a significant role in trying to prevent a wider war diplomatically.”

She also noted that conflicts beyond the immediate region are now receiving less attention, including Ukraine.

"In September, the Azerbaijanis basically pushed Armenia out of Nagorno-Karabakh, and I didn't see one protest in the streets about that. So, you know, these conflicts do have a global spill-over effect."

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, joined the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Bill Gates to discuss the future of collaboration between the Global North and South to ensure the world works towards win-win solutions to our most pressing challenges.

Kagame said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the South didn't have its own capacity to produce vaccines, so it considered much later on, and a similar thing has happened with inflation.

We cannot address inequality by just mitigating crises, but rather we need to integrate, to involve developing countries like Africa from the beginning to have the conversations around how these inequalities should not be developing.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

Rutte said he did not see a schism, but that we needed strong countries and strong multilateral organizations and there were positive examples of progress in key areas such as fisheries.

"What worries me," said Okonjo-Iweala, "is how we manage this multi polarity, there is no one centre that can solve all the problems of the world."

We are in interdependent and we need to work together. And that speaks to the issue of how do we do it. This is where multilateral organizations need to be strengthened. But we absolutely need them because we have to solve some problems of the global commons like climate change.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Key political figures from across the region looked at what others can learn from ASEAN's successes in areas from to regional integration and redefining of global supply chains.

What to know from Day 4

As Japan seeks to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, Kono Taro, Japan's Minister for Digital Transformation, joined business leaders to discuss how it can boost regional and global cooperation.

Panellists including Odile Françoise Renaud-Basso, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, and Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, discussed the opportunities available to the region, if countries can secure the investment to make it a reality.

As BRICS expands, what role will it play in the future of global political and economic landscape? Ministers from India, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates explored how the bloc can collaborate on common aims.

An uncertain global economic picture and geopolitical instability in the region have hit the outlooks for economies across MENA.

Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation, joined Morocco's Minister of Economy and Finance, Nadia Fettah Alaoui, Ministry of Economy and Finance of Morocco, Faisal Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Economy and Planning, and business leaders from the region to discuss how leaders should respond to these shocks and ensure progress continues to be made.

Two years into Russia's war in Ukraine, what does the future hold for the country?

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People and Commissioner for Trade a the European Commission joined foreign ministers from Lithuania, Poland and Romania to discuss what's next for Russia's place in the world.

With the shape of global trade changing, and the established patterns fragmenting, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, joined Adebayo Olawale Edun, Nigeria's Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, to discuss what's next for the multilateral system and business strategies.

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Middle powers and regional groupings are emerging as an alternative to competing superpowers. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, joined Karoline Edtstadler, Austria's Federal Minister for the European Union and Constitution to look at the role of these middle powers and how they'll shape global collaboration.

Africa has to play a pivotal role across the globe for multilateralism and in the international arena on trade, on investment, on other economic activities.

Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia

What to know from Day 5

Companies have long practised “coopetition”, the strategy in which rivals compete over market share on the one hand, while cooperating on advancing shared interests on the other.

Jane Harman, Chair, United States Commission on the National Defense Strategy, joined Maros Sefcovic, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission and business leaders Tak Niinami, CEO, Suntory Holdings Limited and Mathias Miedreich, CEO, Umicore to discuss how nations can better cooperate on shared priorities.

As more than 4 billion people globally take part in elections in 2024, this session explored what the results might tell us about existing strengths and weaknesses in democracies around the world.

Ian Bremmer, President, Eurasia Group, joined Rajesh Kumar Singh, India's Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Rachel Botsman, Trust Author and Lecturer, and Alexander Soros, Chair of the Board of Directors, Open Society Foundations, to discuss.

Botsman explained the three clear chapters of democracy and trust - and how technology is distributing trust.

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Leonard said crises are creating political identities.

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Institutions around us shape us, and allow us to connect to people around us, said Bremmer, but those institutions have fragmented and lost trust.

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Catch up on the full session here.

Special addresses from public figures

Throughout the week, leading political figures will give live special addresses. For a full run-down the remarks made by heads of state and other top political leaders, see here.

Tuesday, 16 January

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar
  • Viola Amherd, President of the Swiss Confederation

"We need to strengthen the UN and other global and regional institutions, so they can play the role as platforms for open dialogue more effectively once again," said Amherd.

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  • Li Qiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China

Trust has enabled globalization over the past decades, and in order to ensure we drive growth while managing the green transition, countries must continue to take coordinated measures and communicate. To keep competition healthy, there must also be cooperation on innovation, said Li Qiang.

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Watch the session in full here.

  • Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

"This is not a time for conflicts or polarization, this is a time to build trust. This is a time to drive global collaboration more than ever before," said von der Leyen.

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Watch the session in full here.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

President Zelenskyy received a standing ovation after his speech which reflected on the feats of the Ukrainian defence against Russian aggression and the possibility of a global peace summit in Switzerland: "I invite every country that respects international peace and international law to join us."

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  • Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Viet Nam

By 2050, Viet Nam's goal is to become a developed nation, with high income, said Pham Minh Chinh, which would require developing and implementing three pillars: democracy, rule of law and a market economy.

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  • Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor

The world must continue to focus on "shared economic growth, tackling climate change, managing new technologies and promoting good governance", said Sullivan. These will be the foundation of success, peace and strength.

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  • Bisher Hani Al Khasawneh, Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Wednesday, 17 January

  • António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations

"We are moving into a totally chaotic situation in which geopolitical divides at all levels prevent any global response to global threats," warned Guterres.

  • Javier Milei, President of Argentina

In his address, President Milei explored what he called the 'root cause' of challenges facing the Western world.

He said the Western world is in danger because those who are supposed to defend Western values are co-opted by a vision of the world that leads to socialism and poverty.

He argued that free enterprise capitalism is not just the only possible system to end world poverty, but also the only morally desirable system to achieve this.

And he advocated for a model based on the fundamental principle of libertarianism - the defence of life, of freedom and of property - as pillars of the Argentina of the future.

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  • Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain

We need a "new paradigm of prosperity", said Sánchez, explaining the progress that Spain has already made in coupling economic growth with "environmental sustainability and prosperity for all".

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  • Emmanuel Macron, President of France

In a wide-ranging speech, Macron discussed France's AI strategy, the growth and stability that will come from more green jobs in Europe, and European cooperation in the face of adversity.

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Thursday, 18 January

  • Isaac Herzog, President of Israel

Herzog spoke about the conflict in Gaza and tensions in the region. He demanded the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and called for the ongoing support of the international community.

He also said the normalization process with Israel's Arab neighbours will be "key to the ability to exit from the war into a new horizon".

  • Mohammed Shyaa Al Sudani, Prime Minister of Iraq

In a wide-ranging discussion, the Prime Minister talked about the security situation and degree of democracy in Iraq, climate change and the energy transition away from an oil-based economy, the situation in Gaza and the risk of escalation and wider regional conflict and the upcoming US election.

  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece.

The Prime Minister highlighted the necessity of providing long-term support to Ukraine as the war with Russia continues. “What happens in Ukraine will reverberate beyond Ukraine,” he said.

Key publications

The past several years has seen the emergence of a complex geopolitical landscape, in which conflict, competition and cooperation are all taking place at once. The Global Cooperation Barometer, developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company, will help stakeholders better understand the current state of cooperation.

The barometer details the level of cooperation around five issue areas: trade and capital flows; innovation and technology; climate and natural capital; health and wellness; and peace and security.

Cooperation trends by pillar

Strengthening global cooperation is essential for a safer, healthier and more prosperous world. Yet, the current, turbulent geopolitical context in which conflict and competition are increasing has pulled stakeholders apart at the very moment that acute and ongoing global challenges demand collaborative solutions.

Against this backdrop, the World Economic Forum convened the Global Future Council on the Future of Geopolitics to identify how global stakeholders can cooperate in addressing critical issues. In this white paper, the council members argue that innovative, inclusive approaches to cooperation are not only necessary but possible in the following areas: global security, climate change, technology and trade.

Key initiatives and events

Ukraine's Peace Formula: The 4th National Security Advisors Meeting

On 14 January, Switzerland and Ukraine hosted the fourth national security advisors meeting in Davos ahead of the Forum's Annual Meeting. Representatives from over 80 countries and interational organizations attended the meeting, which was organized within the framework of the Ukrainian Peace Formula. The conference, co-chaired by Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, aimed to advance principles for a lasting and just peace in Ukraine.

"The peace that Ukraine seeks must guarantee its survival, integrity, sovereignty, and development," Yermak said in his address during the meeting.

For more, see the Ukrainian delegation's press conference on the meeting's outcomes here.

The Resilience Consortium brings together ministers, chief executives and heads of international organizations to accelerate collective action across key resilience drivers.

This initiative was formed in 2019 to unlock investment in frontier markets to improve the resilience of at-risk and crisis-hit groups.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public private partnership for trade-led growth, supporting governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

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Related topics:
Global CooperationResilience, Peace and SecurityGeo-Economics and PoliticsForum Institutional
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