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Peace Coronavirus CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: Why COVID-19 Ceasefires Remain an Exception

Image courtesy of Jeffery Harris/DVIDS

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors.

Humanitarian ceasefires are intended to open up windows of relief for affected civilians during armed conflict. With COVID-19 spreading across the world and the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire, hopes were high that ceasefires could help contain the pandemic and ease civilian suffering. The small number of COVID-19 ceasefires, however, is sobering. This might be explained by how a ceasefire declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic can appear to entail far-reaching commitments with uncertain benefits and high costs. In contrast to usual humanitarian ceasefires, pandemic ceasefires hence seem as too big of a risk to take. Tying ceasefire calls to concrete objectives with clear temporal and geographic limitations could help to counter this obstacle.

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Peace Coronavirus CSS Blog

The UN Has Appealed for a Global Coronavirus Ceasefire: But Is It Possible to Quarantine Conflict?

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of State/Flickr.

This blog belongs to the CSS’ coronavirus blog series, which forms a part of the center’s analysis of the security policy implications of the coronavirus crisis. See the CSS special theme page on the coronavirus for more.

This article is a slightly adapted version of a piece originally published by The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on 13 April 2020.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres made an unprecedented appeal on March 23 for “an immediate global ceasefire” to facilitate humanitarian access to the populations most vulnerable to the spread of covid-19. This was the first global ceasefire request in the 75-year history of the United Nations.

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Peace CSS Blog

Ceasefires since 1989

Between 1989 and 2018, more than 1,900 ceasefires and related follow-up arrangements were reported in the media, across more than a hundred intra-state armed conflicts around the globe. This graphic provides an overview of these ceasefires regarding their distribution over time and across five continents. To find out more, read the new CSS Analyses in Security Policy, ‘Ceasefires in Intra-state Peace Processes’, here.

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Peace CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: The Political-Technical Interaction in Ceasefires

Christmas Truce 1914. Image courtesy of Wikipedia/A.C.Michael/Illustrated London News

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

If something is purely political, it becomes fuzzy as there is no clear, objective “right or wrong”. If something is purely technical, with many objective “rights and wrongs”, it becomes boring as there is nothing to debate or shape. Things become fascinating when the political and technical interact. Ceasefires that aim to stop violence are important because they can save human life, but they are also intellectually intriguing because of the way political and technical dimensions must interact if they are to be effective.

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Conflict Peace

Ceasefires Don’t Work: We Have the Numbers to Prove It

Ceasefire by Juana Alicia
Courtesy Steve Rotman/Flickr

This article was originally published by War is Boring on 31 October 2016.

On Sept. 10, 2016, the U.S.-brokered a ceasefire with Russia and Syria in the besieged city of Aleppo. Although low-intensity fighting never really stopped, the ceasefire didn’t begin to fall apart until a week later, when U.S. aircraft mistakenly killed about 80 Syrian troops.

The killings heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, who had agreed to the ceasefire with the aim of negotiating a combined effort against Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked fighters. By Sept. 21, the ceasefire collapsed — and the following day, the Syrian government announced a new military offensive to retake Aleppo.

The offensive featured some of the most intensive ground combat and bombing of the entire war, costing hundreds of lives within the span of just a few days. The humanitarian cost on the ground was described by U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien as “a level of savagery that no human should have to endure.”