COVID-19 and Armed Conflict

15 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020

See all articles by Tobias Ide

Tobias Ide

University of Melbourne; Technology University of Braunschweig

Date Written: May 17, 2020


This article studies the impact of COVID-19 on armed conflict. The pandemic has significant health, economic and political effects. These can change the grievances and opportunity structures relevant for armed conflicts to either increase or decrease conflict risks. I analyse empirical evidence from Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Yemen from the first four months of 2020. Results suggest that COVID-19 provides little opportunities for health diplomacy and cooperation, but it also has not yet driven grievances to a level where they became relevant for armed conflicts. Three countries have encountered temporary declines in armed conflicts, mostly due to strategic decisions by armed groups to account for impeded logistics and increase their popular support. Armed conflict levels have increased in five countries, with parties exploiting either state weakness or a lack of (international) attention related to COVID-19. This is a worrisome trend given the tremendous impacts of armed conflict on human security and the capabilities of countries to deal with health emergencies.

Keywords: Corona, civil war, disease, health diplomacy, security, violence

Suggested Citation

Ide, Tobias, COVID-19 and Armed Conflict (May 17, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Tobias Ide (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

Technology University of Braunschweig ( email )

Abt-Jerusalem-Str. 7
Braunschweig, D-38106

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