The global economy is in turmoil. The war in Ukraine, the COVID pandemic, the Israel-Hamas conflict, and other factors have created a maelstrom of economic uncertainty.
There is a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the current international order. Concerned citizens around the world are questioning the legitimacy of institutions like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
These factors are creating a unique opportunity for countries to leverage the power of negotiation to address the challenges facing our planet. Effective and strategic negotiations would help us create a more stable and prosperous future for all.
Here are 10 of the most crucial negotiations that will shape the world in 2024.
Rumors say Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce have been in merger talks for several months. If it happened, it would combine two of the largest and most successful tech companies in the world.
Amazon would have a dominant position in the cloud computing and CRM (customer relationship management) markets. Amazon’s cloud computing capabilities could also be integrated with Salesforce’s CRM software to create a more comprehensive and powerful suite of business applications.
On the one hand, businesses would have access to top tier business tools. On the other hand, there would be virtually no competition. Those who could afford it would have a tremendous advantage over those who can’t.
The deal would help both companies diversify their businesses and reduce their reliance on a single market. For Amazon, Salesforce would provide a new revenue stream from the B2B market. For Salesforce, Amazon’s cloud computing capabilities would give it a competitive edge in the cloud market.
Antitrust regulators would certainly scrutinize any such plan over concern it would give the combined company too much power. Furthermore, Amazon and Salesforce have very different cultures, and it may be difficult for the companies to integrate their operations smoothly. Complex negotiations among the companies, within the companies, and with regulators will be required. The potential benefits could be enormous for the two companies and their customers.
9. G20 Negotiations That Will Shape The World
The G20 (Group of 20) is an international forum for the world’s 20 largest economies, accounting for approximately 85 % of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population. Negotiations held there have direct consequences for the economic, environmental, and social well-being of a vast majority of the planet. The 2024 G20 summit will take place in Rio de Janeiro in November.
The ongoing war in Ukraine, rising inflation and interest rates, combined with debt crises in many countries will keep discussions on financial stability and crisis preparedness high on the agenda. Recent disruptions in global food and energy supply chains highlight the need for international cooperation to ensure food security, especially for vulnerable populations. Trade policies and agricultural development are likely to be key discussion points.
Furthermore, the G20 is expected to discuss ways to harness the power of digitalization for economic growth while addressing issues like cybersecurity, data privacy, and the implications of artificial intelligence.
It would be laudable if the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would be re-negotiated. Bjorn Lomborg correctly pointed out their unrealistic nature and how to convert them to goals that would be relatively easily implementable and extremely efficient in addressing human suffering.
While the goals are laudable, there are always the same problems when it comes to negotiations between nations: Domestic political realities often hinder efficient collaboration. The ongoing geopolitical conflicts could further complicate progress on critical issues.
8. Arms Control: The Lost Race
The United States and Russia are the world’s two largest nuclear powers, and they have a long history of arms control agreements. However, these agreements are under strain, and there is a risk that the two countries could enter a new arms race.
Anticipated challenges in arms control negotiations for 2024 encompass a spectrum of complex factors. Heightened global tensions among major powers, notably the United States, Russia, and China, may complicate efforts to reach agreements.
The rapid evolution of technology, including advancements in cyber warfare and autonomous weapons, poses a challenge in crafting treaties that effectively regulate these capabilities. The persistent concern of nuclear proliferation, either through the spread of weapons to additional states or regional tensions, remains a focal point.
Non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, add an additional layer of complexity, requiring negotiations to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Trust deficits among nations, historical disputes, and suspicions about intentions contribute to the difficulty of successful arms control negotiations. The intricacies of coordinating multilateral agreements involving diverse interests require adept diplomacy to strike a balance that addresses the concerns of all parties.
Moreover, the perennial challenge of verification and compliance mechanisms persists, demanding effective measures to ensure that nations uphold their commitments. In essence, the landscape of arms control negotiations in 2024 is shaped by a dynamic interplay of geopolitical, technological, and diplomatic factors.
7. Negotiating a More Effective WTO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is facing several obstacles in 2024 that could hinder its ability to promote economic growth and prosperity around the world.
Recent global tensions have led to a climate of distrust and there has been a surge in protectionism around the world, as countries have sought to protect their own industries from foreign competition. This has made it more difficult to reach deals on trade liberalization, as the WTO is a multilateral organization, relying on consensus among its member countries to reach decisions.
A particular problem is the increasing power of large technology companies, such as Meta, Alphabet, and Amazon. They have built quasi-monopolies and the WTO needs to find a way to address the power of these companies without jeopardizing free trade.
The main challenge, however, will be dealing with the general challenge in terms of legitimacy and relevance. The WTO has been criticized for being too focused on the interests of developed countries and for not doing enough to address the concerns of developing countries. This has led to a decline in support for the WTO among many of its members.
If the WTO is unable to address these challenges, it could risk becoming irrelevant in an increasingly interconnected global economy. Losing an institution focused on promoting global collaboration through negotiations would be a great loss for our world.
6. North Korean Nuclear Threat: Negotiating With A Devil
North Korea’s erratic antics threaten both regional and global security. The rogue nation continues to test nuclear weapons and has developed a range of missiles that could reach much of the United States. It is a serious and alarming issue.
Certainly, the US is working on resolving the issue vital for national security. However, the international community should quickly join the top-level negotiations to build a consensus on how to dampen the North Korean threat, even to draw the country closer to the world economic community and find ways to work towards common goals.
How can a win-win outcome be established? How can democratic nations negotiate with a tyrant? There lies the core of the problem which requires excellent negotiation skills.
It may be that positive and negative leverage can be used through a process of both tightening sanctions on the country and providing economic assistance.
One thing is certain: North Korea is a real and present threat to peace on Earth, and world leaders would do well to negotiate a strategy for helping the country’s people overcome their adversities.
5. AI Regulations: Making a Deal Before the Race is Over
The development of artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to accelerate world progress, but it also poses serious risks. On the military end, for instance, not only does AI promise quicker responses and more accurate targeting, but it also amplifies the consequences of hasty or inaccurate decisions.
While the public may wonder whether AI will cause them to lose their jobs, business leaders are scurrying to leverage AI before their competitors do.
Meanwhile, politicians are busy creating regulations and guidelines for the responsible development and use of artificial intelligence. It includes addressing issues such as data privacy, algorithmic fairness, and the development of human-centered AI systems.
There won’t be effective regulations unless they are decided on a global scale, e.g. by the G20. Industry leaders, big tech, and startups alike must be quick to meet political leaders to come up with win-win solutions before AI endeavors are being killed locally or just moved to countries without restrictions.
4. The US-Iran Nuclear Deal: Mission Impossible
The fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), hangs in the balance in 2024. The Biden administration has made reviving the deal a priority, but it faces opposition both from Iran and from domestic critics.
The United States will need to tread carefully in its efforts to revive the JCPOA. It will need to address Iran’s concerns about the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the deal, while also convincing its allies that the JCPOA is the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The Biden Administration must build a coalition of support for — one that includes not just America’s European allies but also countries like China and Russia. The Taiwan-China situation and the Russian war in Ukraine further complicate a possible deal. But the most pressing issue is Iran’s presumed involvement in the Hamas-led massacre of Israelis on October 7.
As a negotiation advisor, I am usually quick to give advice but this is one of the most complicated scenarios I have ever observed and I can not even imagine a viable deal in the near future.
3. Armenia-Azerbaijan: On The Road To Peace
Armenia and Azerbaijan, embroiled in a longstanding conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, face substantial negotiation challenges in their pursuit of peace. Despite a 2020 Russian-mediated agreement and subsequent peacekeeping, tensions escalated in 2022 with Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenian territory. The EU and US, attempting to mediate, were dismissed by Azerbaijan, claiming bias in favor of Armenia.
One of the unique challenges stems from the stark political differences between the two nations. Armenia, a democratic state, engages in negotiations with Azerbaijan, led by the authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev. This stark contrast in political systems adds complexity to the diplomatic landscape.
Key negotiation challenges include border disputes, with Armenia advocating for delineation using Soviet military maps, a proposal opposed by Azerbaijan. The political will for a peace treaty becomes a sticking point, as Azerbaijan insists on separating the border issue from the overall agreement. The Armenian opposition, wary of potential territorial concessions, emphasizes the importance of border delimitation before the prime minister signs, expressing concerns about giving in too easily.
The negotiations also grapple with the aftermath of a mass exodus, where over 100,000 people fled the conflict. Despite goodwill gestures, such as a prisoner exchange, and a rare bilateral meeting between leaders in St Petersburg on 26 December 2023, paving the way for an agreement, the complexity of drafting a peace agreement persists. Seven drafts have been exchanged, with the unresolved issue of linking Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhichevan, crucial for national security.
The negotiation process involves international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory, further complicated by the geopolitical interests of Turkey, Russia, Iran, the US, and the EU in the strategically critical region. The draft agreement’s principles focus on mutual respect, rejection of territorial claims, adherence to international law, and the opening of communication routes.
The negotiation challenges extend to the potential role of a bilateral commission and the unresolved issue of a land transportation link between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. With the peace process ongoing through the OSCE Minsk Group, the outlook remains uncertain, with the possibility of a breakthrough or stalling in 2024. Despite the complexities, there is a sense that both sides are ready to pursue peace, underscoring the intricate and challenging nature of the negotiations.
2. Israel-Palestine: A Road From Terror And Destruction To Peace?
The Israeli-Hamas conflict is an ongoing source of instability in the Middle East, and there is little hope for a lasting peace agreement in the near term. The barbaric attacks of Hamas on Israeli civilians and Israel’s response, which many judged too harsh on the civil population, have broken any trust that previously existed between the two parties.
World leaders, however, are committed to restarting negotiations in full awareness that there is no easy solution. One of the primary sticking points is the status of Jerusalem. Both claim Jerusalem as their capital. This is a difficult issue to resolve, but it is an essential piece to the puzzle for any peace agreement.
Another challenge to peace is the presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The settlements are illegal under international law — which Israel disputes — and are a recurrent theme in negotiations between the countries. The Palestinians want the settlements to be dismantled, while Israel is reluctant to do so.
Despite the challenges both sides have a shared interest in peace, and hope remains that the conflict can be resolved. The Abraham Accords, initiated by President Trump, were groundbreaking, as several Arab nations agreed to normalization of their relations with Israel in exchange for Israel taking further annexations of Palestinian territory off the table. So, negotiations are in fact possible. Third parties will be key, as those can use positive as well as negative leverage through procedures such as trade agreements and multinational investments.
If the international community can help to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and Hamas, it would be a major step forward for the region and the world.
1. Russia-Ukraine War
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine exerted a devastating impact on the two countries and resulted in a major humanitarian crisis. Several governments imposed sanctions on Russia and provided military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
The negotiations between Russia and Ukraine began before the start of the invasion in February 2022. The two sides have held numerous rounds of talks since, both in person and virtually, but so far have been unable to reach an agreement.
The key negotiation issues discussed include the following:
- The status of Crimea: Ukraine is demanding the return of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Russia has said that Crimea is part of Russia and is not negotiable.
- The status of Donbas: Ukraine is demanding that Russia withdraw its troops from the Donbas region, which is in eastern Ukraine. Russia says it will only withdraw its troops if Ukraine agrees to a neutral status and a demilitarized border.
- Guarantees of security: Ukraine is demanding security guarantees from other countries and NATO to prevent Russia from invading again. Russia says it is not willing to give Ukraine such guarantees.
The war in Ukraine could continue for many years to come. It could escalate into a wider conflict between Russia and NATO members, causing a major global crisis with potentially catastrophic consequences. Putin has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. It’s not possible to triumph over a nation that has the ability to destroy the entire planet.
German foreign secretary Baerbock blurting out that “We want Ukraine to win this war”, is actually displaying a misunderstanding of global conflicts: they are not football games. With the West’s focus on imposing sanctions on Russia and providing military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, it has lost the possibility to act as a mediator.
But the international community must work to de-escalate the conflict and engage in diplomatic efforts to find a long-term solution for the two neighboring countries. Countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia haven’t taken sides. And they have already done what the West should have done right from the beginning: Addressing the root causes of the conflict, such as the expansion of NATO and Russia’s security concerns.
India’s Prime Minister Modi talked to Ukrainian President Zelensky and Russian President Putin, stating that “India is ready to contribute to any peace efforts”. Indonesia outlined a very concrete Peace Plan in June. The decisive factor could be China, which appointed a Special Representative in April to facilitate a deal between the two parties through high-level shuttle diplomacy, moving back and forth between Kyiv and Moscow.
Conflicts cannot be resolved through moral righteousness — at the negotiation table.
There are certainly many more pressing issues to be negotiated, such as China’s annexation of Taiwan, which was just, for the first time, given a deadline: negotiations, such as the are many tensions at this point in time, such as Xi Jingping’s recent statement that they are inevitable.
One would think that humankind would have by now clearly seen the futility of armed conflict and hatred. Deliberate and enthusiastic negotiations can pave the way for peace, and there is yet room on the planet for all people and every culture.
Think of it this way: Intense conflict always requires a successful negotiation before it can end. Consequently, the focus of world leaders should be on wisely applying the principles of negotiation. The outcome of that strategy would be the prevention of wars, the easing of tensions, and the discovery of solutions to pressing human issues. There is much to learn and much at stake for us all in 2024.
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