With the 29th edition of the Conflict Barometer, the HIIK continues its annual series of reports covering political conflicts worldwide

The global political conflict panorama in 2020 was marked by a rise in the number of wars and violent crises. The overall number of wars increased significantly from 15 to 21, while the number of limited wars decreased by two. The increase in wars was driven by developments in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. In Europe, two conflicts escalated to full-scale wars, while in Sub-Saharan Africa six ongoing wars continued and another five violent conflicts escalated to the level of war, making it the region with the highest number of conflicts on war-level in 2020. DR Congo and Ethiopia alone accounted for five full-scale wars. Meanwhile, in Asia and Oceania, the Americas, as well as West Asia, North Africa, and Afghanistan (WANA), the number of wars remained constant or declined slightly. However, wars for example in Brazil, Libya, Syria, and Yemen continued. As in previous years, violent intrastate crises such as the opposition conflicts in Venezuela or Nicaragua continued to represent the most common conflict type and shaped the global conflict landscape. Finally, peace initiatives, for instance in Libya or in Afghanistan, aimed to pave the way for more peaceful future relations.

For the third consecutive year, the Spotlight section complements our descriptive approach to conflict dynamics with additional in-depth analysis. For instance, this year’s spotlights analyze conflict dynamics in Belarus or telecommunications restrictions in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Conflict Barometer 2020 can be downloaded here:

The Board of Directors would like to thank all editors, heads of regional working groups, and everyone else who contributed to this report for their outstanding efforts, especially during the final stages of editing. Without your commitment, a publication like this would be impossible. The Covid-19 pandemic did not only affect the global conflict landscape, but also our editing process, which we had to conduct completely online. When time resources seem to be more limited than ever, and time spent in front of the screen longer than ever, voluntary efforts spent on a project like this become even more extraordinary.

The Board of Directors

Maximilian Brien, Eduard Ebert, Giacomo Köhler, Leon Lewin, Maximilian Orth, Katharina Valjak

Heidelberg, March 2021