COVID-19 and Armed Conflict
15 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020
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
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