WHITEPAPER: COVID-19 & Global Security Implications - 31 Oct 2020


Global trends towards the end of 2020

Author: James Robertson, Regional Security Director – International SOS

The COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world in 2020 has reshaped it, affecting the way we work, travel and interact with our peers and communities. Its social, political and economic implications vary and are yet to be fully comprehended and felt, amid persisting uncertainty over the way the pandemic will pursue its course and how different countries – and their populations - will respond to it in the longer run.

On top of the complexities that the pandemic has added to managing travel, it has diversely impacted security environments, presenting new challenges for companies’ risk managers and other stakeholders looking after their workforce’s resilience, both while travelling internationally and at their domestic location.

In many places, the unprecedented crisis has either caused or exacerbated socioeconomic difficulties, triggering lay-offs, wage cuts and furloughs offset by varying degrees of state support. Mandatory lockdowns have hit hard communities relying on revenues from the informal sector, particularly in Latin America and Africa. This context is expected to prompt or revive protest campaigns temporarily muted by movement restrictions, as well as fuel localised upticks in crime.

By casting a stark light on the limitations of state support, the pandemic has enabled criminal groups to increase their influence amid low-income communities or gain footholds in new areas. Like everyone else, criminal actors have adjusted to the ‘new normal’, including by adapting their targeting patterns – and causing variations in their security environments.

The pandemic has also provided an opportunity for intense geopolitical arm-wrestling, particularly between China and the US, as well as fuelling up domestic political debates. In the US and western Europe, the risk of political violence has increased amid heightened mistrust towards the authorities,

polarisation and disinformation - especially around the pandemic and measures required to fight it – and the growth, in this unsettling context, of fringe ideologies.

Some governments – in Eastern Europe and Central Asia notably - have been perceived as cracking down on dissent or reinforcing their hold on power under the pretext of fighting COVID-19, by restricting gatherings or postponing elections. Elsewhere, opposition groups have seized this opportunity to grow their support base by criticising government action, or the lack thereof.

This paper provides an overview of the key trends observed by our security experts in their respective regions in relation to the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as our recommendations to best prepare and respond to them in the short-to-medium term. Download the whitepaper and watch the briefing webinar by the authors of whitepaper https://www.internationalsos.com/global-security-insight