Activism, strikes and civil commotion threats to increase this year

2023-02-26T15:27:09+00:00 February 26th, 2023|Security|

Grassroot movements, strikes and civil commotion are risks that every business must consider in 2023, warned strategic malicious risk advisors, CHC Global.

Among the businesses at risk is the cruise ship sector with its many tour offerings ashore, sometimes in remote locations.

These disruptions are growing and they will likely disrupt businesses and affect organisational resilience for months, if not years, to come.

Published annually, CHC Global’s strategic Malicious Risk Report* is aimed at helping global organisations understand their exposure to risk, providing analysis of recent developments, including extremism, the malicious use of technology and violent protest movements domestically and across the world.

Even well-established industries in stable democracies must be prepared for the possible impact of being targeted by increasingly disruptive and potentially violent activism, CHC said.

Chris Holt, MBE, CHC Global CEO (pictured), said: “By having a clearer understanding of the risks to an organisation from malicious perpetrators, risk managers and CEOs can start to consider how these might have far-reaching consequences for their organisation.

“These risks are not just financial but can also impact operations, reputations, supply chains, and operatives who work in or close to high-risk areas. This report provides an overview of how global events can impact organisations, providing a deep analysis to help organisations mitigate the risks,” he said.

Businesses are already witnessing, either directly or indirectly, the impact of protest movements and civil unrest on their operations. This trend is expected to grow this year.

Traditionally, resilient states are not immune to instability. For example, in the UK alone, there have been at least 70 instances of strike action since June, 2022, causing disruption over multiple days and there’s more planned for February and March.

Activist groups have blocked roads, dug and occupied tunnels and glued themselves to vehicles and buildings, as acts of civil unrest to cause disruption that affects industry broadly. Equally, climate-related protests in the Netherlands caused significant disruption in 2022.

Understanding the impact

In a global economy, businesses need to understand the impact that these protests, whether domestic or international, can have on their operations. With global market conditions already affecting the cost of living, organisations can expect to see more activism in the form of protests, strikes, and boycotts affecting their operations, directly or indirectly, for the foreseeable future.

Of the movements that have turned violent, a large proportion have been driven by resentment against global economic instability and rapidly rising inflation, and particularly by perceived government failure to control it.

There have been mass protests in Sri Lanka, beginning in March, 2022, in response to perceived government mismanagement of the economy, which led to a shortage of resources, drastic inflation, and near economic collapse.

Other significant areas of malicious risk identified in the report include:

Strategic competition – In a world of increasing economic integration, the destabilisation of certain regions caused by the competition between powerful states can have far-reaching consequences. The conflict in Ukraine has already shown how concentrated military aggression by a regional power can impact economies globally, with fallout from global sanctions, as well as increased competition for natural resources.

In addition, increasing tensions in the South China Sea also have the potential to significantly destabilise global supply chains and economic stability, as well as cause civil and political unrest.

Expansion of non-state armed group activity – The threat from Islamic State and Al Qaeda remains high, with dominant centres of activity continuing to develop in vulnerable African states.

In turn, this triggers further economic and geo-political insecurity and provides additional opportunities for criminal activity. The expansion of Mexican cartel influence over neighbouring states, such as Guatemala, is likewise driving wider regional instability across Central America.

Exploitation of available technology – The boundaries between many threats are blurring, driven significantly by the exploitation of technology. The number and scale of cyber-attacks on governments and commercial organisation in the last year are noteworthy, with an increased level of activity related to the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

Alongside governments, malicious cyber activity also targeted infrastructure and high-profile commercial entities in North American, European, and East Asian countries. Moreover, technology is increasingly being exploited for the development of home made weapons, such as improvised drones and 3D-printed firearms.

As for travel operators, especially in the cruise sector, they are seeing new trends in international travel post-COVID, with guests looking to make up for lost time. Adventure travel to exotic and further afield destinations is becoming more popular, as travellers seek a new kind of experience.

Often looking to spend more time off-resort experiencing local communities, social and environmental projects, this comes at a time when strikes, riots and civil unrest are becoming more frequent.

For senior leaders in charge of operations and security this is a perfect storm. Cruise ship, hotel and travel operators need to understand and plan for potential consequences, including those they may not have considered before:

  • Keeping staff and guests safe at a resort, including on board ship.
  • Keeping them safe on excursions.
  • Safety travelling to and from a hotel/resort/ship.
  • Supply chain continuity and issues.

This is a challenge, as meeting Duty of Care obligations must also be balanced with the need to maintain guest experience and meet high expectations – while ensuring guests feel assured of their safety during their stay, wherever they are.

*The full report can be downloaded from: