The military coup in Myanmar was not hard to predict, indeed it was pre-announced and took place in a country with a long history of military political power. Nevertheless, events in the southeast Asian nation should make us reflect in terms of how many other countries are at risk of serious political instability during 2021.
Several fragile democracies are facing political elections over the coming eleven months and these planned events will require careful monitoring on the part of organisations with interests in these countries.
In addition, there is the risk of social instability provoked by the Covid pandemic spilling over into political unrest in a number of countries where no elections are on the cards.
Put quite bluntly, the impact of the pandemic on local economies has created greater poverty and the consequences will be greater criminality in some cases, protests against government management of the emergency in others, reduced efficiency and functionality of basic services in other cases, and all three in a number of countries.
This ‘Grey Rhino’ situation poses a number of questions that cannot be left unanswered, for example what impact could civil unrest have on exports and how will that impact supply chains, how can evolving situation be monitored, and, most importantly, what measures should a company have in place to deal with the protection of its staff?
With the roll-out of Covid vaccines, over time business travel will slowly begin to pick up but if Duty of Care was complex before the pandemic, the current situation is far more complicated due to Covid accentuating existing problems and introducing new ones.
While on the one hand it is imperative that companies monitor evolving situations closely, on the other it is equally important that their travel security policies are updated accordingly.
If the situation in Myanmar was predictable, the same might not be true in a number of other cases during 2021 and due to this organisations must make an extra effort to assure full Duty of Care for their staff.