CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.
In unprecedented turn of events, mob entered U.S. Capitol, briefly disrupting transfer of power and leaving several dead; President Biden’s inauguration 20 Jan held peacefully. In major show of force and amid U.S. President Trump’s contestation of 2020 presidential election result, tens of thousands of Trump supporters, including far-right Proud Boys and followers of QAnon conspiracy theory, 6 Jan gathered in capital Washington as Congress convened in Capitol to certify result. During address, Trump repeated baseless fraud claims and urged supporters to “stop the steal”; thousands then marched on Capitol, where they managed, despite police presence, to break into building; police hustled members of Congress out of chamber to undisclosed locations while others took shelter in offices. Later that day, security forces regained control of Capitol, and members of Congress reconvened and certified election result; several also demanded investigation of security failures, amid reports that some rioters planned to abduct or even kill members of Congress. Unprecedented security incident left four rioters and one Capitol policeman dead, over 140 officers also injured; as of 31 Jan, 135 rioters arrested. House of Representatives 13 Jan voted to impeach Trump on “incitement of insurrection” charge, making him sole U.S. president to be impeached twice; House speaker 25 Jan sent impeachment article to Senate with trial set for 9 Feb. National Guard 18-19 Jan deployed in downtown Washington to deter repeat of Capitol riot at 20 Jan inauguration ceremony. Inauguration of President Biden and VP Kamala Harris 20 Jan proceeded without incident; during address, Biden called for unity, promising to “defeat” what he described as “domestic terrorism”. During first weeks in office, Biden 20-31 Jan signed 42 executive orders, including one reversing Trump’s ban on travel from Muslim countries. Earlier in month, in run-offs in Georgia, voters 5 Jan elected two Democratic senators, resulting in 50-50 party balance in Senate (and giving VP Harris deciding vote as president of Senate). Meanwhile, COVID-19 continued rapid spread, with death toll topping 438,000 (and 24 mn vaccinated) as of 31 Jan.
Vote proceeded peacefully, but disputed electoral results sparked protests as incumbent President Trump rejected defeat. Despite concerns about risks of violence in lead-up to vote, national elections 3 Nov held peacefully, with extremely high turn-out by U.S. standards at 65.6%, partly resulting from mail-in balloting. Leading national media 7 Nov declared Democratic candidate Joe Biden president-elect; official tally 30 Nov showed Biden won with 51.1% of popular vote and 306-232 in Electoral College (constitutional mechanism for selecting president). Meanwhile, incumbent President Trump continuously rejected results, claiming widespread fraud in battleground states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) and long-time Republican states (Arizona, Georgia) that went for Biden. Trump’s support team launched series of legal appeals contesting outcomes in these states; by end-month, state and federal courts reviewing claims had yet to find evidence of significant fraud, and process of certifying results moved forward. Trump’s camp continued to fight outcome in key states through reported pressure on state and local officials involved in tallying and certifying results and encouragement of Republican-led state legislatures to overturn popular vote by designating pro-Trump electors to represent their states at 14 Dec Electoral College vote (body tasked with choosing president based on popular vote). Fraud allegations, relayed by some conservative media figures and Republican politicians, sparked series of “Stop the Steal” rallies across country; protests held largely peacefully throughout month with no serious injuries reported. Tensions eased toward latter part of Nov as states confirmed Biden victory, including Georgia (after a recount) on 20 Nov, Michigan and key Pennsylvania counties on 23 Nov, and Arizona and Wisconsin on 30 Nov. After significant delay, Trump administration 24 Nov greenlighted transition mechanism although Trump did not concede. By end-month, results showed Republicans making gains in Democratic-controlled House; control of Senate to be decided in 5 Jan run-offs for Georgia’s two seats. According to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 global tracker, U.S. most affected country in the world with total 13.5 mn cases and 268,000 deaths as of 30 Nov; Newspaper The Washington Post 9 Nov reported that amid resulting economic downturn one in six households with children do not have enough to eat.
As COVID-19 health crisis worsened and economic downturn deepened, political climate grew increasingly tense ahead of 3 Nov presidential election. Amid tight race between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott 1 Oct restricted early voting ballot boxes to one per county; civil and voting rights groups subsequently launched lawsuits as they saw potential to affect vote tallies in this and other similar moves in states with few polling stations; Texas Supreme Court 28 Oct upheld Abbott’s order. Authorities 8 Oct arrested and charged 13 right-wing militiamen plotting abduction of Gretchen Whitmer and Ralph Northam, Democratic governors of Michigan and Virginia states, respectively; another man 16 Oct arrested. Brawl between Trump supporters and opponents 26 Oct erupted prompting 11 arrests in New York City; at least one injured. Senate 26 Oct confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to fill Supreme Court vacancy; Barrett’s appointment – seen as controversial due to nature and speed of her nomination close to election – would give conservatives potential 6-3 majority on election-related cases; Trump 23 Sept said he expected election to end up in Supreme Court, while Barrett 9 Sept refused to commit to recusing herself from election-related decisions. Meanwhile, COVID-19 spread continued with total 8.8 mn infections and 227,000 deaths as of late Oct. Health crisis featured heavily in electoral campaign throughout month: Trump claimed COVID-19, which he contracted 2-5 Oct, does not warrant lockdowns or other significant restrictions on activity, while Biden argued Trump had mismanaged pandemic. National polls 30 Oct showed large lead for Biden, but margins narrower in highly-contested states likely to determine outcome of election. With need to count unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, some polling aggregators throughout month expressed concerns that tight race means winner may not be known immediately after 3 Nov, which could prompt both Biden and Trump to claim victory and supporters to reject other side’s claim, thus raising risk of violence. Congress 29 Oct failed to agree on economic relief package amid 7.9% unemployment.
Amid COVID-19 crisis and rising mass unemployment, police killing of African American late month triggered large-scale protests across country. Police officer 25 May killed in daylight George Floyd, 46-year-old African American, during arrest outside shop in Minneapolis city, Minnesota. Floyd’s death latest in series of deadly attacks on African Americans in recent months, including Ahmaud Arbery, killed 23 Feb by two white men in southern Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, emergency medic, killed by police inside her home 13 March in Louisville, Kentucky. Floyd’s killing, which was captured on video that circulated widely on social media, prompted large demonstrations across U.S.. While protests were largely peaceful, businesses were looted and property attacked in several places, including 28 May burning of Minneapolis precinct house where police officer who killed Floyd was based. Most crowds multiracial; some participation apparently spontaneous but more organised by various anti-racist groups. A few far-right white nationalist activists, possibly present as provocateurs, reported 28-31 May in Minneapolis, Seattle and elsewhere. Police responded with force in several places, including New York and Philadelphia, dispersing demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. Big-city mayors set evening curfews, including in Chicago and Washington. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet 28 May called for “serious action” to end police brutality in U.S.. President Trump next day derided protesters as “thugs” on Twitter, adding “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”; media commentators remarked language echoed that of George Wallace, governor of Alabama in 1960s who long defended segregation of whites and African Americans. Thousands of protesters arrested nationwide 25-31 May. NGO Committee to Protect Journalists recorded almost 200 press freedom violations, including dozens of police assaults upon reporters 26-31 May. Trump 1 June threatened to summon military; military police and army units 1-2 June arrived downtown District of Columbia, which, as federal district lacking statehood, cannot stop deployment. Meanwhile, U.S. still facing major health and economic crisis. Johns Hopkins University reported at least 105,000 people dead of COVID-19 by 31 May. Amid easing of lockdowns, economic situation also severe with May unemployment figures expected to show nearly 20% unemployment rate.
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