The Special Issue features insights by researchers, practitioners, and policymakers on how we can better understand and design ceasefires.
Corinne Bara, January 2022
This Special Issue in International Peacekeeping, edited with Govinda Clayton (ETH) and Siri Aas Rustad (PRIO), puts the spotlight on ceasefire agreements – arrangements in which conflict parties commit to temporary or permanent cessation of violence. They are a common feature in violent conflict. Between 1989 and 2020, more than 2000 ceasefires were declared globally.
In the past few years, research projects devoted to the systematic study of ceasefire agreements in civil wars have been started at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zürich, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.
The ongoing collaboration between these institutes led to the creation of the ETH/PRIO Civil Conflict Ceasefire Dataset, the first global comprehensive ceasefire dataset, as well as a wave of new quantitative studies on ceasefire causes, dynamics, and consequences. In parallel, new case studies have begun to reveal the dynamics underlying ceasefires in a number of conflicts. An increasing number of MA and PhD projects dedicated to ceasefire research is another sign of a quickly emerging research field.
To build on and catalyze this momentum, the project teams at PRIO and ETH Zürich invited researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to a workshop in Oslo in September 2019 to collectively explore how we can better understand and design ceasefires. The contributions in this special issue are a selection of work presented and discussed at this workshop.
As we discuss in the introduction to the special issue, collectively, the contributions to this special issue reveal two key insights: firstly, ceasefires are a diverse collective of arrangements, arising in vastly different contexts to serve quite different purposes. Unless we understand the different forms that ceasefires can take, and the processes that lead them to come about, it is unlikely we will understand why some ceasefires work, while others do not. Secondly, violence rarely stops with the declaration of a ceasefire. Conflict parties, international actors and civil society thus need to manage violence that occurs during a ceasefire to sustain fragile agreements.