Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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.

Global Overview

Outlook for This Month January 2021

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month December 2020

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

Looking ahead to January, CrisisWatch warns of three conflict risks.

In the Central African Republic, deadly fighting involving armed groups allied with former President François Bozizé broke out ahead of the 27 December general elections. Disputed vote tallies could spark another dangerous cycle of violence.

In Uganda, political tensions ran high ahead of the 14 January general elections, and the violent crackdown on the opposition could escalate.

Electoral disputes in Somalia delayed the legislative polls and threaten to derail February’s high-stakes presidential election. As we have warned, a disrupted contest could fuel political discord, which Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State might then exploit.

Looking back to December, the latest edition of Crisis Group’s monthly conflict tracker, highlights deteriorations in ten countries and conflict areas, mostly in Africa, as well as improved situations in Myanmar and Côte d’Ivoire.

In Iraq, mass protests spread into the Kurdish region amid clashes between Kurdish armed factions. Notably, the Kurdish Peshmerga and members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units exchanged fire for the first time. 

Violence erupted in the disputed border area between Ethiopia and Sudan, with Khartoum reclaiming large swathes of territory.

In a major show of force, and after weeks of political tensions, DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi announced the end of the ruling coalition he had formed with his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

In Niger, jihadists launched one of their deadliest attacks on civilians in years, killing dozens ahead of the 27 December general elections.


Tensions persisted between Japan and China over contested island chain in East China Sea, while Tokyo continued security engagement with broad range of international stakeholders. Amid increased Chinese military activity in East and South China Seas, Japan, France and U.S. 6 Dec confirmed they would hold joint land and sea military drills in May 2021 for first time on one of Japan’s outlying islands. Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force and U.S. military 2-15 Dec held traditional large-scale joint military drill in southwestern Japan and 7 Dec launched separate exercise north west of Japan’s capital Tokyo; both drills focused on repelling attacks on remote islands. Four Chinese H-6K and two Russian Tu-95 bombers 22 Dec took part in joint patrol over Sea of Japan and East China Sea; Japanese Air Self-Defence Force scrambled fighters to monitor bombers. Japanese media reported that two Chinese ships 26 Dec entered Japanese territorial waters near disputed Senkaku Islands; Japanese Coast Guard Service urged violators to leave country's territorial waters. Chinese National Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi 14 Dec discussed via videoconference ongoing tensions in disputed East China Sea; Kyodo News reported that Kishi expressed concerns over Chinese ships “repeatedly sailing close to and entering the waters” around Senkaku Islands, while both ministers reiterated commitment to establish hotline between their officials. Kishi 15 Dec held online talks with German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, during which he called on Berlin to send vessel to participate in joint exercises with Japanese Self-Defence Force units in 2021. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Kishi 22 Dec discussed regional security situation during phone conversation, including East and South China Seas, and reaffirmed continued close cooperation

Korean Peninsula

South Korea protested Chinese and Russian military activity, U.S. accused China of violating UN sanctions, and Seoul criminalised sending propaganda balloons to North Korea. Four Chinese warplanes and 15 Russian aircraft 22 Dec entered Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) for alleged routine training, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff; South Korea’s military scrambled air force fighters in response, while South Korean MFA same day reportedly lodged protest with China and Russia; Chinese MFA next day responded that Chinese and Russian warplanes did not enter KADIZ. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Korea Alex Wong 1 Dec accused China of “flagrant violation” of its obligation to enforce UN sanctions regime, and announced U.S. was offering up to $5mn reward for information on Chinese sanctions evasion; U.S. 8 Dec imposed sanctions on several Chinese companies for allegedly helping Pyongyang export coal; Chinese MFA 23 Dec responded that govt had always implemented sanctions seriously. On final visit to Seoul 8-11 Dec, U.S. Deputy Sec State Stephen Biegun said North Korea had “squandered” opportunities for progress in negotiations over last two years, and called on Pyongyang to agree to “lay out a map for action” leading to denuclearisation. South Korean parliament 15 Dec approved controversial legislation criminalising flying of propaganda leaflets by balloon toward North Korea; minority opposition lawmakers boycotted vote, saying that govt was sacrificing freedom of expression; human rights groups rallied same day at National Assembly to protest bill. South Korean President Moon Jae-in 4 Dec nominated new ministers of interior, health, land and housing, and gender in effort to refresh administration amid backlash over housing policies, rising COVID-19 cases, and scandal involving justice ministry and top prosecutors. UN Security Council 11 Dec discussed human rights abuses in North Korea in closed-door virtual meeting after seven members raised issue, accusing Pyongyang of using COVID-19 pandemic “to crack down further on the human rights of its own people.”

Taiwan Strait