15 May 2020

Takshashila Discussion Document: Deriving India’s Strategies for a New World Order


“The New World Order” is a phrase often used but rarely understood. This discussion document proposes an analytical framework to decode what a New World Order means for India.

The document presents a flexible action portfolio to hold India in good stead over the next 25 years, regardless of the contours of the international system. The action portfolio is derived by imagining 20 likely scenarios for a New World Order at the intersection of two axes. The first axis represents five possible geopolitical trends, organised by the degree of global polarity. The second axis represents four geoeconomic trends; the degree of growth, automation, trade, and labour movements. In each scenario, we propose strategies to maximise India’s national interest.

Finally, we collate recommendations for India which occur in the maximum number of scenarios and propose that acting on these recommendations is the most optimal path for India to secure its national interests in an ever-changing world. These recommendations form the basis of India’s action portfolio, and are divided into two broad categories:

Domestic Economic Reforms

Liberalise major sectors, implement labour and factor market reforms. Be an attractive destination for FDI.

The Middle East's Evolving Security Landscape: Prospects for Regional Cooperation and US Engagement

Amid ongoing conflict in the Middle East, collective security arrangements have historically proven elusive. Regional states’ mutual mistrust, the absence of shared perceptions of threats, and competing national interests have contributed to the failure of attempts to create a broad, region-wide security system. In the Gulf, Russia, Iran and the United States have proposed competing mechanisms to foster cooperation, but these proposals have foundered, garnering little support from either Arab Gulf nations or international actors. Longer-term progress towards Gulf security cooperation will remain unlikely unless Saudi–Iranian tensions decrease. This rapprochement would require stronger cooperation between the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council themselves. US efforts to support regional security cooperation should focus on strengthening intra-GCC defence and political relationships, including through confidence-building measures, resolution of the Saudi–Qatari rift and increased interoperability of defence systems, as well as reducing perceptions that a US withdrawal from the region is imminent.

Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.

U.S. Naval Standoff With China Fails to Reassure Regional Allies

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On the face of it, the recent standoff along Malaysia’s Borneo coast was a robust response by the U.S. Navy to some cynically timed Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea, offering reassurance to wavering Southeast Asian countries that Washington still has their back in the midst of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, few in the region are likely to view it that way.

For several days, starting on April 20, the USS America—a small carrier equipped with a handful of F-35 jets, helicopters, and an embarked force of U.S. Marines—patrolled, with its two escorts USS Bunker Hill and USS Barry, in close proximity to a Chinese survey ship, Haiyang Dizhi 8, and its accompanying screen of coast guard vessels and fishing boats, the latter widely assumed to be part of China’s maritime militia. Two Chinese navy destroyers and a frigate subsequently arrived on the scene.

The target of China’s motley but highly coordinated maritime force was the West Capella, a drillship working under charter to Petronas, Malaysia’s state-owned energy company. It has been operating near the outer edge of Malaysia’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), off the state of Sarawak, since late 2019. Beijing’s apparent aim was to intimidate and disrupt Malaysia’s exploration activity, coercing it and other Southeast Asian littoral states into accepting joint development with China.

China’s role in the global biotechnology sector and implications for US policy

Scott Moore

Even by the standards of emerging technologies, biotechnology has the potential to utterly transform geopolitics, economics, and society in the 21st century. Yet while the United States has long been the world leader in most segments of the global biotechnology sector, China is fast becoming a significant player. This brief assesses the implications of China’s changing role in biotechnology for the United States, which span national security, data security, and economic competitiveness.

water_futuresOn current trends the United States is likely to remain the world leader in most biotechnology areas. However, the gap between China and the U.S. is narrowing in the biotechnology sector, and U.S. policymakers must boost public investment, liberalize immigration and foreign student visa policies, and enact regulatory reforms to ensure America remains competitive. At the same time, areas like vaccine development and regulation of emerging technologies like synthetic biology present rich opportunities for Sino-U.S. cooperation.

Making the Most of It, Part II: Xi Jinping Leverages Coronavirus ‘War Without Smoke’ to Spur Digital Transformation, Test National Defense Mobilization

In this paper, Dorman states that “Despite being tied to the pandemic or “economic restart,” current Chinese domestic propaganda efforts on topics ranging from “crisis management” to “digital transformation” and “defense mobilization” did not originate with the coronavirus. Instead, each represents an agile repackaging of Communist Party guidance and propaganda messaging that was already months or years old. Facing a crisis of confidence following its muddled response to the coronavirus outbreak, domestic propaganda efforts were initiated within days or weeks to remold the Party image. Instead of starting from scratch, existing campaigns were repackaged to highlight a Party that was not only in control and leading the crisis response, but even taking advantage of the crisis to accelerate China’s domestic and international goals.”

COVID-19, Debt, and Strategic Competition

In this paper, Dr. Oehlers states that “The current pandemic-induced economic crisis presents a unique opportunity for the United States and like-minded partners to reverse the gains China has made through its debt-led approach to acquire economic and political leverage. By addressing the debt challenges increasingly faced by some developing countries, the financial leverage China holds over any of these can be weakened significantly. Additionally, a multilateral response to the debt challenge grounded on current international rules-based norms, principles, and institutions, will counter Chinese intentions to create a parallel rival system centered on the Belt-Road Initiative. This approach will consequently also assume a crucial role helping shape the economic and financial architecture of the post-pandemic world to come.”

China’s Global Covid-19 Assistance is Humanitarian and Geopolitical. That’s Why People are Worried.

The main thrust of the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic propaganda work since late January has focused on masking the early role of the Party in stifling public health transparency and creating the pandemic crisis. The primary propaganda message, widely disseminated in domestic state-run media, highlighted the “political and organizational advantage” of the Communist Party in tackling the health emergency once the decision to contain the crisis was made in Beijing.

Academic Co-operation with the People’s Republic of China: Dangers and Temptations

Märt Läänemets
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Critical Article from University of Tartu’s magazine was not published at first due to pressure coming from university’s the administration, that was afraid of the negative impact to its collaboration with Huawei.

Members from the Estonian Oriental Society condemned university’s reaction, because they saw it as threat to freedom of speech and academic freedom. Besides the silencing effect of Chinese funding, this brief addresses other potential threats from scientific espionage to soft power based influencing activities.

Legal Constraints of China’s BRI: The Case of Myanmar

There are many consequences of China’s global Belt and Road Initiative. Amongst the least appreciated are the legal implications that arise from its investments. In Myanmar, one of the chief destinations for Beijing’s largesse, legal problems often occur at the local level due to land disputes, a lack of transparency or poor public consultation. If these project-related issues cannot easily be settled, some form of dispute resolution is needed between the various states, companies and individuals. Arbitration, mediation and conciliation are several of the most common types, but the framework for resolving such cases has not been fully established. This vacuum adds to the uncertainty surrounding China’s foreign involvement, particularly in developing states like Myanmar.


Myanmar is strategically located, connecting China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and South-East Asia on one side, with India and South Asia on the other. A high proportion of China’s maritime trade passes through the Malacca Strait near Singapore, which Chinese officials fear could be closed off by the United States in times of dispute. As a potential solution to this, Myanmar offers indirect access to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the narrow shipping lanes altogether. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is its sweeping vision for investment, aiming to connect itself with the rest of the world by creating new land and sea trade routes. The program is less rigid and centrally controlled by China than is often imagined. Indeed, many projects that are now considered part of the BRI in Myanmar were actually proposed years before the scheme officially launched in 2013. The original China-Myanmar Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed in 2001, which underpins cooperation, and outlines how disputes are to be resolved.

The Takshashila PLA Insight

I. The Big Story: More on the South China Sea

The Liaoning aircraft carrier strike group, after month-long military exercises near Taiwan and in the South China Sea, has finally returned to Qingdao port this week. Its “annual cross-region drills” included intensive air and sea operations. However, despite the return of the carrier strike group to its base, there is unease within PRC’s neighbouring countries over the recent display of its muscle. These countries are worried that they would be a victim of PRC’s power struggle with the US in the East and Southeast Asian regions. In this context, Indonesia’s Foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, expressed her concerns, noting that the recent activities could have potentially escalated tensions at a time when the global collective effort is vital in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Indonesia calls on all relevant parties to exercise self-restraint and to refrain from undertaking action that may erode mutual trust, and potentially escalate tensions in the region,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the Chinese coastguard, On April 1, launched an eight-month law enforcement campaign named “Blue Sea 2020”, with one of its stated aims being to crackdown on “violations in offshore oil exploration and exploitation”, as well as marine and coastal project construction. The campaign is a multi-agency effort between the coastguard and transport, natural resources, and environment ministries. “There is only very little information available about the campaign, but we are watching closely to find out what the implications are for the South China Sea,” said a Diplomat from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on this development.

China’s Military Capabilities and the New Geopolitics

Discussion of Chinese intentions inevitably draws attention to the pronounced buildup of naval weaponry in recent years, with each year bringing fresh confirmation of China’s ability to leapfrog existing assessments of the size of its navy. Thus, in April 2020, China constructed a second Type 075 warship, a class designed to compete in amphibious capability with the American Wasp class ships. Two more are anticipated, as are two more aircraft carriers. These are clearly designed to match American warships, and raise interest in China’s ability to sustain distant interest by sea, most obviously in the Indian Ocean, but also wherever Chinese geopolitical concerns may be favored by naval power projection. Areas where China has maritime interests include not only the South-West Pacific, where it has been actively developing alliance partnerships, much to the disquiet of Australia, but also the Caribbean. Moreover, Chinese maritime partners include Equatorial Guinea. So, the notion that China might automatically “limit” itself to dominating a “near China,” of the East and South China Seas is implausible. Even were that to be the goal, the need to prevent external intervention in that dominance, intervention most obviously by the American and Japanese navies, but also by that of Australia, would require a greater range of naval activity in terms of “access denial.” It was that principle that led the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the modern counterparts would be seeking to thwart the use of Guam and to block chokepoints of naval access.

This approach presupposes that the Chinese wish for war, which is highly unlikely, but any policy inherently requires planning for the possibility of conflict, and that is true of the Chinese as well as for their possible opponents. Of course, that brings with it the danger that preparing for conflict might actually help precipitate it.

In terms of planning, there are a host of imponderables, but this is scarcely new. It was true of the two world wars as the relevant weapons systems had not been tested hitherto. That puts a premium on wargaming, and that, eased by computer simulation, has been underway for years. Indeed, during the 2000s, the American navy planned accordingly, notably at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and advocated what in effect was an alternative strategic prioritization and different foreign policy. While the American government, army, air force, and marines were focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, the navy regarded this as at best a second-order priority (a view shared by Chinese policymakers), and, instead, urged the need to focus on the waters off East Asia. That underlay Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” and, as in so much else, and to a degree that neither man wishes to acknowledge, there is continuity between Obama and Trump, as there would have been between McCain/Romney and Hilary Clinton.

China’s Military Is Tied to Debilitating New Cyberattack Tool

By Ronen Bergman and Steven Lee Myers
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On the morning of Jan. 3, an email was sent from the Indonesian Embassy in Australia to a member of the premier of Western Australia’s staff who worked on health and ecological issues. Attached was a Word document that aroused no immediate suspicions, since the intended recipient knew the supposed sender.

The attachment contained an invisible cyberattack tool called Aria-body, which had never been detected before and had alarming new capabilities. Hackers who used it to remotely take over a computer could copy, delete or create files and carry out extensive searches of the device’s data, and the tool had new ways of covering its tracks to avoid detection.

Now a cybersecurity company in Israel has identified Aria-body as a weapon wielded by a group of hackers, called Naikon, that has previously been traced to the Chinese military. And it was used against far more targets than the office of Mark McGowan, the premier of Western Australia, according to the company, Check Point Software Technologies, which released a report on Thursday about the tool.

In the preceding months, Naikon had also used it to hack government agencies and state-owned technology companies in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Brunei, according to Check Point, which said the attacks underscored the breadth and sophistication of China’s use of cyberespionage against its neighbors.

The Trump-Iran Showdown: A Conflict Resolution Perspective

Richard E. Rubenstein
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Why would Trump run the risk of a war by assassinating Iran’s most effective general? Conventional Realist explanations do not answer the question adequately. The imperial strategy and the American Empire’s decline points toward a more convincing (and alarming) explanation.

In the midst of his controversial handling of the Coronavirus dilemma and oil war with Russia and Saudi Arabia, President Trump announced he had ordered the US navy “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”, in reaction to the move of a dozen Iranian boats within a few yards of US warships. His Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist explained the President was emphasizing “all of our ships retain the right of self-defense and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense." The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said it had put the country's first military satellite into orbit at 425km. It considers the move to be “a great success and a new development in the field of space for Islamic Iran." While various interpretations have solidified mistrust between Washington and Tehran about whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated “Iran needs to be held accountable for what they've done. They have now had a military organisation that the United States has designated a terrorist attempt to launch a satellite.”


The Middle East was already plagued by war, famine and death in the form of the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as the US, radical extremism, the Kurdish question and Iraq’s many travails – in large part a result of decades of autocracy, corruption and repression. The outbreak of Covid-19 added pestilence to this trio and makes for a harmful long-term mix. With this in mind, the purpose of the brief is twofold: first, to examine the longer-term impact of the virus on political tensions and conflict in the region; and second, to explore opportunities for innovative conflict resolution that might be seized in the wake of Covid-19. In this way, we hope to stimulate something good coming out of this trying period yet.

How the Bio Revolution could transform the competitive landscape

By Michael Chui, Matthias Evers, and Alice Zheng

You start your day with a preworkout breakfast of synthetic eggs and lab-grown bacon, a diet tailored to your own genetic requirements. You get dressed in a biosynthetic tracksuit made from fibers that can self-repair. You drive to the gym in a car that uses biofuels produced by microbes engineered using synthetic biology. After a workout, you apply an antiaging face cream tailored to your skin’s genetic predisposition. At work, you put on an audio headset that measures stress levels from your brain waves and suggests ways to alleviate them in real time.

The Bio Revolution is not science as usual

This is a not-so-distant day in the life of the Bio Revolution now underway. Fueled by breakthroughs in biological science and the confluence of exponential advances in data, analytics, and digitization, what until recently might have read like a page out of a science fiction novel is becoming a reality. Moreover, biological innovations have been deployed to aid in the response to COVID-19, allowing for faster identification of the virus, more effective diagnostics, and new bioengineered treatments.1 The wide-ranging implications for business executives should go well beyond the obvious and expected (see sidebar, “The Bio Revolution is not science as usual”).

Despite U.S. Sanctions, Iran Expands Its Nuclear Stockpile


Two years after President Donald Trump announced the U.S withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran has resumed its enrichment of uranium, restarted research and development on advanced centrifuges, and expanded its stockpile of nuclear fuel, cutting in half the time it would need to produce enough weapons-grade fuel to build a nuclear bomb.

“Iran is manifestly closer to being able to produce a nuclear weapon than they were two years ago,” said Richard Nephew, who participated in negotiations on the landmark nuclear deal in 2015.

While there is no evidence Tehran is preparing a dash for a nuclear weapon, the Iranian advances raise questions about the success of the White House’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, which is aimed at forcing Iran through the imposition of ever more stringent sanctions to accept greater constraints on its political and military support for regional militias and the development of its ballistic missile program.

The effort—which has severely damaged Iran’s economy—has yet to temper Iran’s nuclear ambitions, instead prompting Tehran to resume nuclear activities prohibited by the nuclear pact, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. It has also eroded Washington’s credibility even among many of its traditional allies and placed increasing strains on America’s diplomatic partnerships.

There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Safely Reopen


The United States is mired in one of the most immiserating peacetime moments in its history. In a little more than two months, more than 70,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, a disease that did not have a name in early February. The U.S. economy, which began the year as an engine of global stability, is in shambles. The unemployment rate has surged to a level unseen since the 1930s, the Labor Department announced on Friday. Only about half of American adults have a job, the lowest share of the population employed since measurements began in 1948.

There is one way out of the mess: To fix the economy, the country must solve the public-health crisis. Survey data show that the economic turmoil is driven not primarily by government shelter-in-place policies but by Americans’ fear that going outside will result in illness.

To allow the recovery to begin, the United States must implement the kind of strategy that other countries have used to defeat the coronavirus. It must test widely to find infected people; trace their contacts, who might themselves have been infected; and isolate that potentially infectious group from the rest of the susceptible population. Setting up this kind of infrastructure was one of the initial goals of the social-distancing measures that states and cities started in March.

Loose cobras: DPRK regime succession and uncertain control over offensive cyber capabilities

JD Work

The world does not yet know if Kim Jong Un is incapacitated, or dead, as has been rumored in April 2020. However, any potential transition of leadership raises concern over control of strategic weapons – including offensive cyber capabilities commonly referred to as HIDDEN COBRA.

If the DPRK succession does not occur smoothly, multiple scenarios may be considered where HIDDEN COBRA threat activity may result in new intrusion or attack against critical infrastructure targets. These include potential action on pre-planned contingency plans for retaliation in the event of conflict arising out of miscommunication or other mistakes, attempts to acquire new illicit revenue to cover the ever-rising costs of ensuring loyalty to a new successor, or incidents driven competition and opportunism in the disorder inherent to contested transition where no heir has yet clearly emerged.

The opaqueness of the regime is likely to be aggravated by crisis, limiting opportunities to observe prospective regime threat activity and provide further warning across these scenarios.

Financing of Terrorism and Social Media Platforms

The Institute for Strategic, Political, Security and Economic Consultancy (ISPSW) is a private institute for research and consultancy. The ISPSW is an objective, task-oriented and politically non-partisan institute. In the increasingly complex international environment of globalized economic processes and worldwide political, ecological, social and cultural change, which occasions both major opportunities and risks, decisionmakers in the economic and political arena depend more than ever before on the advice of highly qualified experts. ISPSW offers a range of services, including strategic analyses, security consultancy, executive coaching and intercultural competency. ISPSW publications examine a wide range of topics connected with politics, the economy, international relations and security/ defense. ISPSW network experts have held – in some cases for decades – executive positions and dispose over a wide range of experience in their respective fields of expertise.

A U.S. National Strategy for 5G and Future Wireless Innovation

Doug Brake 

5G will make wireless connectivity more flexible and better able to be tightly integrated into different functions throughout the economy. Accelerating a secure deployment will be a force multiplier for growth.

The private sector will lead the 5G rollout, but governments need to help. Agencies should leverage 5G for their own processes and encourage its use in their related industries. State and local governments should eliminate barriers to deployment.

Congress should appropriate funds for pilot programs to identify and overcome challenges with the ongoing transition to virtualize network functions, introducing more software running on generic hardware infrastructure in wireless networks.

Policymakers should increase funding for early stage wireless R&D, setting the stage for 6G; support fair processes in standards-setting organizations; assist allies to see a larger market for trusted vendors; and protect IP rights for innovators.

It is critical networks are built with secure components. A ban on Chinese 5G equipment makes sense; a ban on exports to Huawei does not. A better strategy should drive wireless innovation beyond 5G, with equipment from a diversity of suppliers.


The Problem of Cyber Attribution Between States


Attributing responsibility to who perpetrated an attack against a state and, even more importantly, who ordered it, is a way to achieve cyber deterrence. However, cyber attribution, particularly between states, is a thorny affair. International Law establishes that states should warn other states before attacking, and that states are responsible for the actions of non-state actors under their control.[1] These rulings are translated to the cybersphere, albeit not respected.[2] Accomplishing a perfect attribution in a context of diffuse actors and false flag operations is also beyond the technical and strategic capabilities of most states. In this context, establishing a legal baseline over which to build regulations is an important step.

In this paper, I aim to answer how sure a state should be to attribute a cyberattack, and what should be the threshold for attribution. To do so, I will first discuss in deeper detail what cyber attribution is, its layers and graduations. Then, I will flesh out how attribution poses a problem to states in terms of feasibility, quality and usefulness. In the third section of this paper, I will elaborate on how international law approaches the subject of attribution and will explain, compare and critically analyse the different doctrines on state control over non-state actors. Finally, I will conclude that public international attribution is more than a technical issue, but a strategic and political affair. Thus, a state should weigh the political stakes of making such call regardless of its certainty regarding the quality of its attribution. I will also defend that, due to the difference in the circumstances of the states dealing with cyberattacks, there should be no fixed doctrine on state control, but each case should be ruled ad hoc.

What is cyber attribution and why does it pose a problem to states?

Eight leadership lessons from the Navy carrier captain’s case


Last Friday the media reported that Navy leaders are recommending reinstatement for Captain Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Roosevelt) who was relieved from command for the way he handled the COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship. This post examines a few leadership lessons that should be learned from his case.

Regrettably, the hagiographic narrative surrounding Captain Crozier is creating the very real risk that the wrong leadership lessons will be learned and propagated, irrespective of what does or does not happen to him personally. If that occurs, the success of future military operations is imperiled, and troops could die. Some things really can be that simple.

To be clear, everyone agrees military leaders have the responsibility for the health and safety of those entrusted to them. Accordingly, Captain Crozier is to be rightly commended for being so concerned about the threat of COVID-19 to his crew. That doesn’t mean, however, that he handled his responsibilities the right way.

New SIPRI Reflection Film on limits on autonomy in weapons systems

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is pleased to announce the launch of a new SIPRI Reflection Film that takes stock of the challenges posed by autonomy in weapons systems and explores how these challenges might be addressed by states. The film is released ahead of the Berlin Forum for Supporting the 2020 Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems that will take place on 1–2 April.

Watch the film on SIPRI’s YouTube channel here.

Limiting autonomy in weapons systems

As the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) is set to convene in June 2020, the film investigates why and how concrete requirements for human control could form the basis for agreed limits on autonomy in weapons systems––whether in the form of new rules, standards or best practices.

Military Technology: Risks and Opportunities for the Atlantic Alliance

New disruptive military technologies will play a crucial role in future warfare. Investing in this field requires a long-term political commitment on the one hand, and huge economic, human and industrial resources on the other. NATO has always put a great emphasis on the high-tech level of its armed forces. However, a technological gap has emerged between the two sides of the Atlantic. While the US has a clear political vision and the necessary capabilities for further developing a technologically advanced military, European NATO members lack a unitary strategy, as well as the necessary financial resources and industrial fabric to properly deal with the new technological challenges. Technological sovereignty is thus emerging as an even more critical component for the future of European security.

Report of the workshop “Military Technology: Risks and Opportunities for the Atlantic Alliance” held in Rome on 27-28 February 2020 and organized by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in collaboration with the NATO Defense College (NDC).

The World At War In 2020

Today marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe - VE Day. While the conflict which claimed millions of lives on European soil is firmly committed to the annals of history, conflict in the East of the continent is still a harsh reality in the present day. The Ukrainian crisis, ravaging the Donbass region of the country, has so far amassed a death toll around the 13 thousand mark.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for an immediate global ceasefire, saying in March: "Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world."

As extensive data collection by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) shows, a large portion of the globe is engulfed in some form of conflict. This infographic shows countries in which there have been reports of armed clashes involving state forces and/or rebel groups in 2020. Even using this simplified definition, the presence of war across the world is extensive.

Unlike the situations in Donbass and Syria, for example, not all conflicts fit the picture we may have in our minds when thinking of war. In Mexico for example, ACLED has recorded 3 armed clashes involving state forces. Each one though was a battle between different law enforcement entities - providing a snapshot of the ongoing fight against police corruption and the deep-seated influence of organized crime.