Pandemic Sparks Rise in Global Political Risk

Adam Jacobson


September 1, 2021

The January 6, 2021 riot in Washington, DC. The image shows the rioters breaching a door using a ladder as a battering ram.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rise in global political risks that will likely continue into 2022, according to the 2021 Risk Maps report from Aon and geopolitical and security intelligence firm Dragonfly. The Western Sahara and nine countries, including the United States, experienced increased political risk from 2020 to 2021. The report based its assessment of the “high” U.S. risk level partially on the January 6 riots at the Capitol building “and the potential for further civil unrest.” It also noted that such incidents within the United States have a greater impact on global business and revenue growth than incidents in other places, thus getting more weight in its evaluation.

Overall, the pandemic and accompanying restrictions caused global terrorism and political violence to fall, especially outside of conflict zones. Within conflict zones, violence increased, potentially due to constrained government capacity while dealing with COVID. As mass vaccinations expand and pandemic-related restrictions ease, the threat of terrorism and political violence may escalate across the board. “Pent-up grievances, online radicalization, a desire for groups to reestablish themselves, and more targeting opportunities all look likely to combine into a worsening threat landscape in the latter half of 2021,” the report stated.

Adam Jacobson is associate editor of Risk Management.