Live and Let Live: Explaining Long-term Truces in Separatist Conflicts

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June
21

Article by Kolby Hanson

Policymakers and scholars generally assume that, unlike in interstate wars, in civil conflicts opposing forces cannot simply ‘agree to disagree:’ in order to stop fighting, one side must collapse, disarm, or concede. I argue that this assumption largely holds for centre-seeking conflicts, but not for separatist conflicts. Because separatist conflicts involve more geographically contained fighting and more limited stakes, rebels and states can more easily transition into cooperation. To test this argument, I create an original worldwide dataset of long-term truces in civil conflicts (1989–2015). That is, cases in which governments and rebels transition from open fighting to peaceful cooperation for an extended period without either side collapsing, disarming, or conceding. Overall, I find strong support for the main contention: while such truces are exceedingly rare in centre-seeking conflicts, they have happened in more than one-third of separatist conflicts since 1989. Even where rebels are strong or have little public support, separatist aims open space for containment and cooperation. These findings help fill in the empirical gaps between war and peace and document cases of peaceful cooperation without disarmament or political reform. They also highlight key differences between peacebuilding in centre-seeking and in separatist conflicts.

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June
21

Article by Malin Åkebo

Ceasefires are part of most contemporary peace processes, however empirical insight suggests that the characteristics of ceasefires vary greatly across conflict settings. This paper contributes to filling a research and knowledge gap about how different types of ceasefire come about through a comparative case study of ceasefires in the Moro and communist insurgencies in the Philippines. I argue that to understand differences in the characteristics of the ceasefires in these conflicts, it is important to consider the aims, ideologies and strategies of the conflicting parties and how this shapes their approach to a ceasefire. Following this, I suggest that ceasefires must be analyzed and understood with sensitivity to conflict issues and approaches to violence, as this contributes to an explanation of how ceasefire is used as a political tool and how it shapes the dynamics of conflict. Based on interviews and document studies, the article maps the characteristics of ceasefires in both cases over time and analyses the approaches to ceasefires of the parties to the conflict. Knowledge of how ceasefires come about and what shapes them can help both academia and policymakers draw more informed and accurate conclusions about their outcomes and effects.

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Ceasefire Success: A Conceptual Framework

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June
21

Article by Govinda Clayton, Laurie Nathan & Claudia Wiehler

The causes and consequences of ceasefires have become a burgeoning area of research. The concept of ceasefire success is integral to this research and plays a key role as either the dependent or independent variable in both qualitative and quantitative work. Despite its importance, it is not clear how ceasefire success should be conceptualized. This critically hampers the progress of theoretical and empirical research on ceasefires. This article offers a conceptual framework based on the central proposition that ceasefire success should be assessed in terms of two inter-related but conceptually distinct criteria: the immediate objective and the underlying purpose. The immediate objective, which is embedded in the definition of a ceasefire, is the cessation of hostilities (either permanently or temporarily). While all ceasefires share this objective, their underlying purpose, which is the reason for establishing the ceasefire, varies widely across cases. The immediate objective and the purpose, while conceptually distinct, are linked since the purpose informs the temporal and geographic scope of the cessation of hostilities. Based on this framework, we argue that researchers interested in ceasefire success need to clearly identify their assumptions and conceptual choices, which should take account of the political context of the ceasefires in question.

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Understanding Ceasefires

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June
21

Introduction to a special issue of International Peacekeeping, edited by Corinne Bara, Govinda Clayton & Siri Aas Rustad

Ceasefires are 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. Each year, about a third of all ongoing civil conflicts observe at least one ceasefire. Ceasefires are a crucial part of the peacemaking process – a form of confidence building, means of signalling peaceful intentions, and the mechanism that sets out the terms through which armed forces transition from war to peace… continue reading.

The Logic of Ceasefires in Civil War

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June
21

Article by Govinda Clayton, Valerie Sticher

Ceasefires play a role in almost all civil war peace processes. Yet existing studies undertheorize the ways in which different logics drive the design of ceasefire agreements, and the effect this has on violence suspension. Building on bargaining theory and existing ceasefire literature, we identify different bargaining problems conflict parties face over the course of a conflict, and three classes of ceasefire design they use to address these problems. We argue that the effect of ceasefires is driven both by these underlying logics and by the provisions they contain. Building on the PA-X data to capture the provisions included within all written civil war ceasefires between 1990 and 2019, and using Uppsala Conflict Data Program georeferenced event data, we estimate models of ceasefire survival, with conflict deaths as the main measure of whether a ceasefire remains in place. We find that definitive ceasefires (i.e., agreements with demobilization and incompatibility provisions), followed by preliminary ceasefires (i.e., agreements with compliance mechanisms), are associated with longer periods of violence suspension than cessation of hostilities agreements that lack such provisions. We discuss the implications of our results for conflict parties and third parties seeking to facilitate the transition from war to peace.

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June
16

Cover for 

Arbitrary States

Book by Rebecca Tapscott.

Today’s authoritarians use the rule of law and seemingly democratic institutions to pursue illiberal ends. Analyzing over ten months of research on Uganda’s informal security sector, including militias, vigilantes, and community policing initiatives, this book identifies arbitrary governance as key to sustaining and projecting this type of authoritarian power, particularly in lower-capacity states. In regimes characterized by arbitrary governance, the state’s stochastic assertions and withdrawals of power inject unpredictability into the political relationship between both local authorities and citizens. This arrangement makes it difficult for citizens to predict which authority, if any, will claim jurisdiction in a given scenario, and what rules will apply. This environment of pervasive political unpredictability limits space for collective action and political claim-making, while keeping citizens marginally engaged in the democratic process. The book is grounded in empirical research and literature theorizing the African state, while seeking to inform a broader debate about contemporary forms of authoritarianism, state consolidation, and political violence.

– Develops a novel and theoretically grounded framework of ‘institutionalized arbitrariness’ and examines the global implications
– Brings together two important literatures, modern authoritarianism and the post-colonial African state, to explain the relationship between state institutions and enforcement power
– Features in-depth qualitative material, including hundreds of interviews, non-participant observations of vigilante groups, political rallies, and local justice processes
– An open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence

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