How will the novel coronavirus pandemic affect the risk of violent conflict and prospects for peace around the world? There is no clear, easy answer—the crisis is still unfolding in surprising ways and assessments about its ramifications shift daily. To complicate matters, the impact of the virus has varied between different regions and conflict zones, making it difficult to render broad judgments about its consequences. Also, what may be relevant for gauging how the coronavirus could increase the risk of an armed confrontation between the major powers will almost certainly be different to assessing how civil unrest could worsen in vulnerable fragile states. The same uncertainty also surrounds current and prospective efforts to manage violent conflict. For every news report of a cease-fire or breakthrough in peace talks there is a corresponding story that details a deteriorating situation. And just as progress in one area can help advance the cause of peace in another, so the reverse is often true.
In keeping with its mission to help the general public understand conflict-related issues that affect the United States, as well as contribute to informed policy debate about the best ways to address them, the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) has created this page as a resource for information and analysis about the effects of COVID-19 on peace and conflict. The issues covered below are organized into relatively discrete categories that seek to address U.S. conflict priorities, but are by no means exhaustive—nor are the articles listed representative of all available information and analysis on these topics. This page will be updated weekly.
To explore more background and analysis about the effects of COVID-19 on specific country and regional conflicts, visit CPA's Global Conflict Tracker.
"Challenges of Global Governance Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives From Council of Councils Institutes," Council on Foreign Relations, May 21, 2020.
Tom McTague, “The Pandemic’s Geopolitical Aftershocks Are Coming,” The Atlantic, May 18, 2020.
Patrick W. Quirk, "The Global Fragility Strategy: Posturing the United States for a Reshaping of World Order," Brookings Institution, May 15, 2020.
Stephen M. Walt, "Will a Global Depression Trigger Another World War?" Foreign Policy, May 13, 2020.
Stewart M. Patrick, “The World Order After COVID-19 Hinges on What Kind of America Emerges,” World Politics Review, May 11, 2020.
Bruce Jentleson, "Will COVID-19 Transform the Global World Order?" Wilson Center [video], May 7, 2020.
Edward Fishman, "The World Order Is Dead. Here's How to Build a New One for a Post-Coronavirus Era," Politico Magazine, May 3, 2020.
Robert Malley, "The International Order After COVID-19," Project Syndicate, April 24, 2020.
Joseph Nye, Jr., "No, the Coronavirus Will Not Change the Global Order," Foreign Policy, April 16, 2020.
Philip H. Gordon and Jeremy Shapiro, “The Atlantic Alliance Had Preexisting Conditions. The Pandemic Will Worsen Them,” War on the Rocks, April 13, 2020.
Colin H. Kahl and Ariana Berengaut, “Aftershocks: The Coronavirus Pandemic and the New World Disorder,” War on the Rocks, April 10, 2020.
Nathalie Tocci, “How Coronavirus Will Upturn the Global Order,” Politico, April 9, 2020.
Richard N. Haass, "The Pandemic Will Accelerate History Rather Than Reshape It," Foreign Affairs, April 7, 2020.
Henry Kissinger, "The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order," Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2020.
Judah Grunstein, "Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Won't Lead to a New World Order," World Politics Review, April 1, 2020.
Mieke Eoyang, Ilan Goldenberg, and Thanassis Cambanis, “A New World Order After the Pandemic?”, TCF World Podcast (podcast), March 23, 2020.
John Allen, et. al, "How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic" Foreign Policy, March 20, 2020.
Kurt Campbell and Rush Doshi, "The Coronavirus Could Reshape Global Order," Foreign Affairs, March 18, 2020.
Great Power Competition
Diplomacy and Politics
Thomas J. Christensen, “A Modern Tragedy? COVID-19 and U.S.-China Relations,” Brookings Institution, May 2020.
Nick Childs, "Great-Power Competition and COVID-19," International Institute for Strategic Studies, May 29, 2020.
Anthony Cordesman and Grace Hwang, “U.S. Competition With China and Russia: The Crisis-Driven Need to Change U.S. Strategy,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 18, 2020.
Richard N. Haass, "A Cold War With China Would Be a Mistake," Council on Foreign Relations, May 11, 2020.
Daniel W. Drezner, “There Is No China Crisis,” Reason, May 2020.
Alexander Gabuev, "The Pandemic Could Tighten China's Grip on Eurasia, "Foreign Policy, April 23, 2020.
Eugene Chausovsky, "The COVID-19 Era and U.S.-Russian Relations," Center for Global Policy, April 22, 2020.
Elizabeth Economy, "The Hydra and the Headless Horseman," Asia Unbound (blog), April 15, 2020.
Michael Green and Evan S. Medeiros, “The Pandemic Won’t Make China the World’s Leader,” Foreign Affairs, April 15, 2020.
Eugene Rumer, "The Coronavirus Won't Make Putin Play Nice," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 14, 2020.
Wendy Cutler and Danny Russel, "Could the Pandemic Ease U.S.-China Tensions?" Foreign Policy, April 6, 2020.
Minxin Pei, "China’s Coming Upheaval," Foreign Affairs, April 3, 2020.
Evan Feigenbaum, "U.S.-China Coordination Missing in Action on Coronavirus," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 1, 2020.
“Six Crises: How the U.S. and China Coordinated Despite Strategic Rivalry,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 2020.
Richard Fontaine, "Virus Competition is Wrecking China-U.S. Cooperation Hopes," Center for a New American Security, March 20, 2020.
Laura Rosenberger, “China’s Coronavirus Information Offensive,” Foreign Affairs, April 22, 2020.
Renee DiResta, “For China, the ‘USA Virus’ Is a Geopolitical Ploy,” The Atlantic, April 11, 2020.
Alicia Wanless, "The Coronavirus Is a Boon for Global Propagandists,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 2, 2020.
Bruce Stokes, “The World Needs to Prevent Post-Pandemic Economic Conflicts,” German Marshall Fund of the United States, April 22, 2020.
Nicholas Mudler, “The Coronavirus War Economy Will Change the World,” Foreign Policy, March 26, 2020.
Mathieu Boulegue, "How Is the Russian Military Responding to COVID-19?" War on the Rocks, May 4, 2020.
Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, “The PLA’s Exploitation of the Coronavirus Pandemic,” RealClearDefense, April 15, 2020.
W.J. Hennigan and John Walcott, “Coronavirus Has Hit the U.S. Military and America’s Adversaries Are Seeking Advantage,” Time, April 15, 2020.
Joel Wuthnow, “China’s Military Claims to Be Virus-Free,” Foreign Policy, March 20, 2020.
Peter W. Singer, Peter Wood, and Alex Stone, “As Coronavirus Spreads, China’s Military Is Largely MIA,” Defense One, February 6, 2020.
Regional Rivalries and Conflicts
Aleksandr Aksenenok, “The Coronavirus and Conflicts in the Middle East,” Russian International Affairs Council, May 26, 2020.
Masoud Mostajabi, "Will COVID-19 Exacerbate or Defuse Conflicts in the Middle East?" Atlantic Council, May 21, 2020.
Jack Detsch, “China Uses Pandemic to Boost Military Pressure on Taiwan,” Foreign Policy, May 12, 2020.
Natia Chankvetadze and Ketevan Murusidze, “Challenges of COVID-19 in Areas of Protracted Conflict,” Middle East Institute, May 11, 2020.
Emilia Columbo and Marielle Harris,"Extremist Groups Stepping Up Operations During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Sub-Saharan Africa," Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 1, 2020.
Paul Haenle, “Security Concerns in Asia-Pacific Escalate Amid Coronavirus Scramble,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 29, 2020.
Ranj Alaaldin, "COVID-19 Will Prolong Conflict in the Middle East," Order from Chaos (blog), April 24, 2020.
Barry Posen, "Do Pandemics Promote Peace?" Foreign Affairs, April 23, 2020.
Marina Ottaway, “The Null Effect of COVID-19 on Conflict: Why Iraq and Yemen Keep Fighting,” Wilson Center Viewpoints, April 23, 2020.
Frances Z. Brown and Jarrett Blanc, “Coronavirus in Conflict Zones: A Sobering Landscape,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 14, 2020.
William B. Taylor, Steven Pifer, and John E. Herbst, "Opinion: The Coronavirus Presents an Opportunity to End War in Ukraine," NPR, April 6, 2020.
"COVID-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch," International Crisis Group, March 24, 2020.
Cinzia Bianco, Rene Wildangel, Tarek Megerisi, Julien Barnes-Dacey, Anthony Dworkin, Ellie Geranmayeh, and Hugh Lovatt, “Infected: The Impact of the Coronavirus on the Middle East and North Africa,” European Council on Foreign Relations, March 19, 2020.
Maria Victoria Murillo, “Elections and Protests in Latin America: COVID-19’s Impact,” Social Science Research Council, May 28, 2020.
Hamid Rashid, Grigor Agabekian, and Helena Alfonso, “COVID-19 Poses Grievous Economic Challenge to Landlocked Developing Countries,” UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, May 28, 2020.
Dexter Filkins, “The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution,” New Yorker, May 25, 2020.
Amir Asmar, “What’s Driving Lebanon’s Mid-Pandemic Protests?” Council on Foreign Relations, May 20, 2020.
Jonathan Masters, "Coronavirus: How Are Countries Responding to the Economic Crisis?" Council on Foreign Relations, May 4, 2020.
Rick Gladstone, “Oil Collapse and COVID-19 Create Toxic Geopolitical Stew,” New York Times, April 22, 2020.
Oliver Stuenkel, “Latin America Must Act—or Brace for Political Instability,” America’s Quarterly, April 22, 2020.
Landry Signe, “A New Approach Is Needed to Defeat COVID-19 and Fix Fragile States,” Future Development (blog), April 21, 2020.
Peter Knoope, “Eight Reasons Why COVID-19 May Lead to Political Violence,” Clingendael Institute, April 9, 2020.
Corinne Graff, “Don’t Leave Fragile States Behind in the Fight Against Coronavirus,” United States Institute of Peace, March 31, 2020.
Nic Cheeseman, “The Coronavirus Could Topple Governments Around the World,” Foreign Policy, March 31, 2020.
“COVID-19 Disorder Tracker,” ACLED.
Refugees, Migration, and Displacement
Dorien Braam and Petra Molnar, “Refugees at Increased Risk of Coronavirus Due to Barriers to Healthcare,” The Conversation, May 27, 2020.
Jackson Diehl, “The Nutrition Crisis of COVID-19 Will Be Even Worse Than the Disease,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020.
Irina A. Faskianos, Rachel Levitan, and Muhammad Zaman, "COVID-19’s Effect on Displaced Peoples," CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call, April 23, 2020.
Samuel Volkin, "How Are Refugees Affected by COVID-19?" Johns Hopkins University Hub, April 20, 2020.
Audrey Wilson, "The Coronavirus Threatens Some More Than Others," Foreign Policy, April 14, 2020.
John Letzing, "How COVID-19 Is Throttling Vital Migration Flows," World Economic Forum, April 8, 2020.
“COVID-19 and the Displaced: Addressing the Threat of the Novel Coronavirus in Humanitarian Emergencies,” Refugees International, March 30, 2020.
Wendy Williams, “COVID-19 and Africa’s Displacement Crisis,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies, March 25, 2020.
U.S. Foreign Policy
Robert D. Blackwill and Thomas Wright, The End of World Order and American Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations, May 2020.
Raphael S. Cohen, “America’s Post-COVID-19 Foreign Policy,” The Hill, May 25, 2020.
Stewart M. Patrick, “COVID-19, and Climate Change, Will Change the Definition of National Security,” May 18, 2020.
Corinne Graff and Amanda Long, “New Efforts to Address Conflict and Coronavirus Align,” United States Institute of Peace, May 6, 2020.
Mona Yacoubian, “The Coronavirus Crisis Could Reshape U.S. Policy in the Middle East,” United States Institute of Peace, April 30, 2020.
James M. Lindsay, "U.S. Global Leadership Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, With Philip H. Gordon," The President's Inbox (podcast), April 28, 2020.
Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, “The Coronavirus Could Upend Trump’s China Trade Deal,” Foreign Policy, April 21, 2020.
Karen Donfried and Wolfgang Ischinger, “The Pandemic and the Toll of Transatlantic Discord,” Foreign Affairs, April 18, 2020.
Nahal Toosi, “Trump Hobbles Foreign Aid as Coronavirus Rips Around the World,” Politico, April 15, 2010.
Philip H. Gordon, “'America First’ Is a Dangerous Fantasy in a Pandemic,” Foreign Affairs, April 4, 2020.
Kirsten Fontenrose, “U.S. Strategy in Iraq and the Coronavirus Plot Twist,” New Atlanticist (blog), March 26, 2020.
U.S. National Security
Planning and Operations
Sue Gordon, “The Coronavirus Should Change the Way We Look at National Security,” CNBC, May 28, 2020.
Steven Metz, “The U.S. Military Will Feel the Impact of COVID-19 for Decades to Come,” World Politics Review, April 2, 2020.
Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Eric Schmitt, “Prepare for War or Fight Coronavirus? U.S. Military Battles Competing Instincts,” New York Times, April 1, 2020.
Kathleen H. Hicks and Joseph Federici, “Regaining Lost Ground: Defense Support in the Coronavirus Pandemic,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 20, 2020.
Jacob Stoil and Bethany Landeck, “War in the Time of Coronavirus: To Prepare for Great Power Conflict, Plan for Epidemics,” Modern War Institute, March 12, 2020.
Mark Cancian, “How Coronavirus Could Hurt U.S. Military Readiness,” Forbes, March 11, 2020.
Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Coronavirus and Changes in the FY2021 Budget: Keeping Cuts in American Defense Spending in Perspective,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 7, 2020.
Daniel Egel, Howard J. Shatz, Krishna B. Kumar, and Ted Harshberger, “Defense Budget Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” RealClearDefense, April 7, 2020.
International Conflict Prevention Efforts
Richard Gowan and Ashish Pradhan, “Is All Hope Lost for a Global Cease-Fire Resolution at the UN?,” World Politics Review, May 14, 2020.
Anastasia Kalinina, “What the World Can Learn from Regional Responses to COVID-19,” New Atlanticist (blog), April 24, 2020.
Timothy Sisk, “COVID-19 and Armed Conflict: What We Know and Why We Should Worry,” Political Violence at a Glance, April 23, 2020.
Antonio Guterres, “We Are All in This Together: Human Rights and COVID-19 Response and Recovery,” United Nations, April 23, 2020.
Sook Jong Lee, “COVID-19 Infects International Organisations,” East Asia Forum, April 21, 2020.
Matthias Matthijs, "COVID-19 and a Splintered European Union," Johns Hopkins University Hub, April 10, 2020.
Colum Lynch, "Can the United Nations Survive Coronavirus?" Foreign Policy, April 8, 2020.
Cedric de Coning, "How COVID-19 Is Impacting the African Union's Operations," Africa Portal, April 6, 2020.
Rick Gladstone, "UN Security Council “Missing in Action” in Coronavirus Fight," New York Times, April 2, 2020.
Quint Forgey, "UN Calls for Global Response to Pandemic," Politico, April 1, 2020.
"Economic Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on ASEAN [PDF]," ASEAN, April 2020.
Stewart M. Patrick, "The Multilateral System Still Cannot Get Its Act Together on COVID-19," The Internationalist (blog), March 26, 2020.
Colum Lynch, “UN Diplomacy in the Age of Contagion,” Foreign Policy, March 18, 2020.
"How is the United Nations Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak?" United Nations.
Humanitarian Aid and Development Assistance
Diana Roy, "Will the Coronavirus Endanger Foreign Aid?" Council on Foreign Relations, April 24, 2020.
"Anticipating the Impacts of COVID-19 in Humanitarian and Food Crisis Contexts [PDF]," United Nations, April 4, 2020.
Peacekeeping Operations and Support
Charles T. Hunt and Adam Day, “Why COVID-19 Offers a Chance to Transform UN Peacekeeping,” Conversation, May 28, 2020.
Cedric de Coning, “Examining the Longer-Term Effects of COVID-19 on UN Peacekeeping Operations,” IPI Global Observatory, May 13, 2020.
Cedric de Coning, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Peace Operations,” IPI Global Observatory, April 2, 2020.
CFR Fellows and Staff on COVID-19 and Conflict
Jason Socrates Bardi and Thomas J. Bollyky, “Taiwan’s Response to COVID-19 and the WHO,” ThinkGlobalHealth, May 15, 2020.
Jason Socrates Bardi and Thomas J. Bollyky, “Coronavirus in Lebanon,” ThinkGlobalHealth, April 24, 2020.
Michelle D. Gavin, "The Politics of Food in the Time of COVID-19," Africa in Transition (blog), April 24, 2020.
Amir Asmar, "Iran Unlikely to Negotiate With the United States in the Near-Term," Strength Through Peace (blog), April 20. 2020.
Paul J. Angelo, "The Pandemic Could Bring Power to Latin America's Criminal Gangs," Foreign Affairs, April 21, 2020.
John Campbell, “The Confluence of Conflict, Corruption, and Coronavirus in Burkina Faso,” Africa In Transition (blog), April 16, 2020.
Michelle D. Gavin, "The Coronavirus's Impact Throughout Africa," The President's Inbox (podcast), April 14, 2020.
Kali Robinson, “Can the World Alleviate Idlib’s Humanitarian Disaster Amid a Pandemic?” CFR.org, April 6, 2020.
Richard N. Haass, “At War With a Virus,” CFR.org, April 6, 2020.