Does covid-19 raise the risk of violent conflict?

In a short article on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog, my colleague Colette Salemi writes about our research on trends in conflict events and the coronavirus pandemic around the world. Basically, we really lack sufficient evidence to make credible claims about the relationship between the pandemic and violent conflict and simple time-series analysis highlights that the relationship may be highly variable across contexts.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Amid the economic disruptions and health risks of the coronavirus pandemic, Iraqis are struggling. Decades of conflict and war have eroded the country’s public health capacity. Almost a third of the population lives under the poverty line.

On top of this, the frequency of ISIS attacks is rising. In fact, the militant group has attempted to take advantage of the vulnerabilities produced by the covid-19 pandemic, according to recent analysis of ISIS official statements.

The situation in Iraq illustrates how the coronavirus threat and policy responses to the pandemic could lead to an increase in violent conflict. But elsewhere in the world, researchers who tally conflict event counts see stagnant or even falling numbers. And in some countries, conflict trends don’t appear to be responding to covid-19 at all.

Read more on the Monkey Cage Blog and read the full paper here.

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