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Security Peace CSS Blog

CSS Mediation Perspectives: The Role of Ceasefires in Peace Processes

Image: © Jeremy Brickhill, Lines of Control and Withdrawal, from «Mediating Security Arrangements in Peace Processes»

Mediation Perspectives is a regular series of blog contributions by the CSS Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors.

Jeremy Brickhill’s publication “Mediating Security Arrangements in Peace Processes” clarifies the role of ceasefires in a peace process. Understanding this role is necessary if ceasefires are to foster the transition from war to peace rather than leading to a stalemate situation. What is unique about Jeremy’s booklet is that, as a former fighter in the Zimbabwean liberation war with Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army, he can provide insights and models of ceasefires from the perspective of someone who knows the psychology of fighters. We have now translated his publication into Russian, Arabic, and Spanish, because there are few publications on ceasefires, and even fewer that highlight the role of ceasefires in a peace process as clearly and practically as his.

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Conflict Peace CSS Blog

CSS Mediation Perspectives: Settling an Armed Conflict with a Sworn Enemy

Image courtesy of Flickr. President Santos signing the peace agreement with the FARC on 26 September 2016. Less than a week later, the deal was rejected in a plebiscite.

Mediation Perspectives is a regular series of blog contributions by the CSS Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors.

Intrastate conflicts are notoriously difficult to settle. In many regions of the world, from Afghanistan and Myanmar to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citizens have grown up during war, only to see their children or even grandchildren born into continued conflict. That is not to say that long-standing enemies never manage to reach a negotiated settlement. In Colombia, after more than half a century of fighting, the government reached a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) in 2016. But implementation is slow, and the state remains at war with the country’s last guerrilla organization, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN).

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Religion Conflict CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: The Contested Power of Religious Narratives in Conflict

Image courtesy of Wikicommons. The standoff between armed members of the Branch Davidian group and the FBI in Waco, Texas, descends into violence.

Mediation Perspectives is a regular series of blog contributions by the CSS Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors.

To what extent do religious narratives shape conflict behavior? Many scholars agree that narratives are important: People get angry when they perceive injustice, they reach out for stories to help explain why that injustice exists, and then some of those stories propose or rationalize violence as a solution to the injustice. For this reason, peacebuilders should seek to understand religious narratives as possible framings of a given context of conflict.

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Coronavirus CSS Blog

Infectious Narratives: US, China, and COVID-19

Image courtesy of Morning Brew/Unsplash.

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.

Stories exert power by constructing one way of understanding the world and by effectively communicating that “reality” to others. Conflict actors understand this when they seek to define the terms in which a conflict takes place, representing themselves as morally sound and the other side as illegitimate.

Building on the work of narrative mediator Sara Cobb, we analyze how the respective governments of the US and China have depicted the origins and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as the fault of the other side. In recent months, COVID-19 has become central to the US and China’s creation of “master narratives”. Master narratives hugely simplify the plot and characters, contain moral judgments, and form the basis for the generation and perpetuation of a conflict tale. This serves both governments in deflecting criticism away from their domestic responsibilities. Tensions have escalated between the two world powers as a result.

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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.