Home-Grown Peace: Civil Society Roles in Ceasefire Monitoring

Article by Margaux Pinaud

In search of innovative solutions to address the growing complexity of civil wars, peacebuilding practitioners and conflict analysts have seriously begun exploring ways to involve national civil society actors in monitoring ceasefires. In contrast, the academic literature on the subject so far is surprisingly scarce and focuses mainly on the role of external third parties. This article argues that involving civil society in ceasefire monitoring mechanisms supports peace processes through four pathways: exposing noncompliance to ceasefire commitments; facilitating communication within and between conflict parties; promoting peace process issues among conflict parties; and socializing outside spoilers and raising public awareness about ceasefires. Based on a case study of the civil society-led National Monitoring Committee for the Ceasefire Code of Conduct (NMCC) appointed in the May 2006 ceasefire between the government of Nepal and Maoist rebels, the article shows that ceasefire monitoring by civil society can effectively prevent major ceasefire violations and support the parties’ transition to a peace agreement through the four pathways. The article also stresses that the NMCC faced commonly encountered constraints related to a lack of perceived impartiality, resources and diversity. It concludes that there is scope for a better operationalization of ceasefire monitoring mechanisms.

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