COVID-19 and world peace: An overture to a new era or business as usual?

April 21st 2020 - 14:14

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The sudden and severe onset of the COVID-19 crisis has shaken nations domestically and internationally as countries navigate the balance of cooperating to fight the epidemic while staying competitive. In response to the outbreak, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ‘global ceasefire’ among nations in order to focus on fighting the virus, an optimistic request reflecting hopes that this crisis would bring about better global cooperation and a break from business as usual. This snapshot examines how countries have risen to that call, assessing whether or not international tensions have indeed relaxed in response. To that end, it looks at numerous longstanding conflicts in order to identify how they may have been affected by the efforts against the outbreak. The report finds that despite the pressing threat of a worldwide epidemic, global tensions have not only remained high, but may have even been exacerbated by the crisis, as economic and military posturing among world powers continues unabated. Meanwhile, media attention has abandoned ongoing conflicts and focused almost exclusively on COVID-19, to the detriment of those affected by these tensions.

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Patrick Bolder is an officer in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Since January 2019 he is seconded to The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. His expertise lies in all Defence matters, with a focus on Military Space, Unmanned systems, European Defence issues and Nuclear Policy.