Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on peace and conflict

The Political Settlements Research Programme is assessing the impact of Covid-19 on peace and conflict dynamics in a series of expert surveys of peacebuilding experts across 20 countries.

Peace, Conflict, and Covid-19

The Peace, Conflict, and Covid-19 project is a survey-based small-scale research project assessing the impact of Covid-19 and related response policies on peace processes and armed conflict in more than 20 countries across four continents. A short online survey will elicit insights from country experts, including those working in civil society, academia, human rights, peacebuilding, and research. This study is being carried out by the PSRP in partnership with the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

The responses will be qualitatively assessed and taken as a comparative trend study on how Covid-19 and Covid-19 response policies impact peace processes globally, putting it together with other reports and secondary sources from the field.

The data will be made available in a report and briefings which aim to inform policy makers and stakeholders of possible shifts in the peace process landscape due to the current crisis. The report will be made accessible to all the respondents and is intended to inform future development and peacebuilding programming decisions in the countries under consideration.In an article published by the University of Edinburgh, PSRP Director Prof Christine Bell outlined the potential impacts of Covid-19 on peace and conflict:

The UN Secretary General’s call for COVID-19 was a potential game changer in conflicts such as Yemen and Syria. Covid-19 ceasefires open up a possibility for the virus to be dealt with in a way that is just not possible when conflict is raging. However, it also opened the possibility of building confidence between armed groups, that might outlast the COVID-19 epidemic and bring more lasting solutions. It is vital that we understand the dynamics between Covid-19, conflict and peace. We are delighted to play a role in gathering data along with a range of collaborators and partners globally, which might help to support the UN Secretary General’s ceasefire call.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Two additional surveys, led by the PSRP’s Dr Juline Beaujouan aim to assess the impacts of the virus on the Kurdistan region of Iraq and the lives of refugees/IDPs in the Middle East.

The first study aims to assess the socio-political impact of Covid-19 in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in which government and populations often feel alienated from the federal state. It mainly focuses 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 will be quantitatively and qualitatively analysed and compiled in a report to be published in Arabic, English and Kurdish. Research conducted in collaboration with Open Think Tank (OTT).

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Treatment and Lives of refugees/IDPs in the Middle East

The second study mainly focuses on evaluating how the Covid-19 situation impacted 1) the work of humanitarian workers; 2) the perception of refugees/IDPs as vulnerable populations; 3) the mitigation of the humanitarian crisis. Perceptions and insights of experts – humanitarian workers, policymakers, civil society – acting at the (inter)national and local levels will be collected via an online survey to be sent over 7 countries and administrative entities. Research conducted in collaboration with Open Think Tank (OTT).

Read more about our work on Covid-19 and conflict.