Ceasefire Success: A Conceptual Framework

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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