On March 23rd 2022 we mark two years since UN Secretary General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire to assist in the fight against the growing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the call initially prompted a flurry of activity from governments, activists, and a variety of armed groups, including some genuine attempts to foster and broker ceasefires, the experience of the past two years has shown that armed conflict is impervious to even the most intense shocks – such as a global pandemic.
We developed our Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19 Tracker as a collaborative project and platform, to assess the extent and impact of the response to the UNSG’s ceasefire call. Our monitoring of a wide variety of news sources in multiple languages has shown that the initial responses to the call quickly gave way to ‘business as usual’, with negotiation activities and attempts to end or pause fighting only marginally (if at all) referring to either the pandemic or the ceasefire call.
In the current (and final) update to the Tracker, we add the most recent instances of ceasefires, to complete the collection covering two years of negotiation activity surrounding attempts at ceasefire. Each of the 101 entries in the tracker is an event: a unilateral ceasefire, a reciprocation, a bilateral or multilateral ceasefire, or a related event.
Apart from supporting us in gaining a better understanding of ceasefires and peace processes, the Tracker has underscored the complexity of attempts to end fighting, with multiple such events only rarely reaching a point of prolonged ceasefire, and most often breaking down when offers of ceasefire are seen as not credible or disingenuous. This bears important lessons for the study of peace processes, as the focus on formal agreements may lead us to underestimate the variety of attempts to even begin talks. Seen in parallel with the PA-X Peace Agreements Database and Dataset, the Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19 Tracker allows comparison between the formal and the informal negotiations, and between processes that failed before they produced a written deal of any sort and those that resulted in agreements, no matter how short-lived. Additionally, the Tracker forms a solid base for extending this data collection effort, in terms of an improved understanding of ad-hoc ceasefire attempts and as developed database infrastructure.
The Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19 Tracker is available at https://pax.peaceagreements.org/static/covid19ceasefires/
Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19 is a collaborative project between the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, Conciliation Resources, Mediateur (European Forum for International Mediation and Dialogue) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), with thanks to contributions from the Mediation Support Unit in the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
Funding: FCDO via PeaceRep and Covid Collective
Photo: UN Photo/Martine Perret