Since the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in December 2019, PSRP has been researching the impacts of the pandemic, and associated response policies, on peace and conflict dynamics around the world. We are pleased to launch two new reports on the nexus between Covid-19, peace, and conflict.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Peace and Transition Processes: Tracking the Trends
In May 2020, PSRP, through collaboration between University of Edinburgh and Austrian Study for Peace and Conflict Resolution, conducted a survey-based, small-scale research project assessing the impact of Covid-19 and related response policies on peace processes and armed conflict in 21 countries over four continents. The survey responses have been qualitatively assessed and are presented in a new report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Peace and Transition Processes: Tracking the Trends.
“The Covid-19 crisis is not causing conflict as such, but is playing into existing conflict fault lines and threats to peace processes.”
Peacebuilding experts reported a general sense of pessimism about the pandemic’s impact on peace and conflict dynamics. The main causes for pessimism included the diversion of national and international actors’ attention, potentially reduced donor funds, and the strategic ‘gaming’ of the crisis by government and non-state actors for conflict-related purposes. The UN Secretary General’s global ceasefire call was only of limited success, with tangible, albeit short-lived, impact in Colombia, the Philippines, and Yemen. Our research found that the Covid-19 crisis, as such, is not ‘causing’ conflict but is playing into existing conflict fault lines and threats to peace processes.
The crisis-related lack of national peace processes and conflict oversight has provided an opportunity for armed campaigns, and has also resulted in an increase of local violence. Survey respondents identified that authoritarian tendencies appear to be strengthening under the guise of Covid-19 responses, and there are worrying trends in shrinking civil society space and the postponement of elections. Experts also identified xenophobia and other forms of discrimination as key themes across contexts, with anti-foreigner sentiments aimed at UN staff, expatriates, and outsider ethnopolitical groups.
Read the full list of findings in the report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Peace and Transition Processes: Tracking the Trends.
Political Trust and Social Cohesion at a Time of Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on Kurdistan Region-Iraq
This research project examined the sociopolitical impact of Covid-19 in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). It mainly focused on evaluating the level of political trust in a number of actors who provide as many sources of information about the situation, and social cohesion across the region’s cities and communities. The responses of almost 1,000 Kurdistanis were quantitatively and qualitatively analysed and compiled in a report, jointly published with Open Think Tank (OTT).
Our research found that the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered social cohesion in the KRI. Importantly, respondents have been shown to rely mostly on their social circles and family throughout the crisis, rather than regional and federal institutions.
The results of this survey highlight a strong lack of trust in federal political figures and institutions. At the regional level, while institutions responsible for mitigating the impact of the pandemic attracted the highest level of trust across the three governorates, Kurdistanis remain divided along lines of political affiliation and geography.
Those surveyed strongly supported the preventive measures in general imposed by the KRG on the three governorates. Yet, answers to the survey reveal that such measures have had an impact on the personal economic circumstances of Kurdistanis, especially among the younger portion of the population, who expected to face financial difficulties in the near future as a direct consequence of the pandemic and its impact.
Read the full list of findings in the report, Political Trust and Social Cohesion at a Time of Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on Kurdistan Region-Iraq
Both of these reports are part of our Covid-19 series on the nexus between Covid-19, peace, and conflict. For more from the series, visit our Covid-19 Hub.