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The Strategic Use of Ceasefires in the Coronavirus Crisis

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Rustad, Siri Aas; Fredrik Methi; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Govinda Clayton (2020) The Strategic Use of Ceasefires in the Coronavirus Crisis, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

​On 23 March, the UN Secretary General called for a global ceasefire. The aim was to create a break in violence to allow vulnerable populations living in conflict-affected countries to prepare for and manage the threat posed by the pandemic. Regrettably, the best available data shows that this call has failed to produce any significant shift in global levels of violence. In most cases, unilateral ceasefires have not been reciprocated, and ceasefire initiatives are diminishing. Notably, the UN Security Council has been unable to agree on a resolution, and an attempt drafted by France and Tunisia was shut down by the US on 8 May. Thus, the UN is not able to provide any significant support to help preserve or extend the short-term lulls in violence that have emerged. In this paper, we take a look at developments in Colombia, Yemen and Sudan.

Brief Points

  • Coronavirus ceasefires have been declared in 9 countries, in which 3 have been broken, and 2 have ended.
    In addition, there are 9 countries with ceasefire initiatives.

  • There has been no reduction in violence at a global level.

  • In some countries, coronavirus ceasefires have led to short-term breaks in violence.

  • In Colombia, the ELN declared a monthlong ceasefire on 1 April, but this was not extended beyond 30 April.

  • In Yemen, both sides have agreed to multiple ceasefires after 25 March, but the violence has continued at the same level.

  • In Sudan, the ceasefires seem to be a continuation of the current peace process, but the level of violence has not diminished.