War, Peace & the In Between Podcast

Episode 7: Breathing Space: understanding vaccination ceasefires in conflict zones

As Covid vaccines make their way around the world, vaccinating people living in conflict zones is a difficult task. Insufficient health infrastructure, transport issues, lack of access, and misinformation can make it difficult to conduct a comprehensive vaccination campaign in these areas. One way of dealing with these challenges is by calling a vaccination ceasefire – a humanitarian pause to facilitate the delivery of essential health services.

In this episode, Sanja Badanjak, Laura Wise, and Ian Russell discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in using vaccination ceasefires to deliver vaccines to conflict-affected populations, based on a new report: Breathing Space: Vaccination Ceasefires in Armed Conflict. Our research outlines how vaccination ceasefires have been used in the past, how they are negotiated and implemented, how they differ from other types of ceasefires, whether they have a lasting impact on wider levels of violent conflict, and the implications for peacebuilding.

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Guest Bios

Dr Sanja Badanjak is a Chancellor’s Fellow in Global Challenges at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, and an affiliate of the Political Settlements Research Programme, where she has been working as data manager for PA-X Peace Agreements Database and Dataset. Her research interests include the applications of quantitative and text-as-data methods in the study of institutions, elections, and peace processes. She completed her PhD in political science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and holds an MA degree in political science from the Central European University, and a BA in political science from the University of Zagreb.

Laura Wise is a Research Associate at the Political Settlements Research Programme, and a Co-Investigator of the programme’s Covid Collective Research Strand looking at PeaceTech, Tracking Data, and the UN Ceasefire Call. She is a co-author of the report “Breathing Space: Vaccination Ceasefires in the Context of Covid-19”, and the VaxxPaxx Vaccination Ceasefires Dataset. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Laura has been tracking responses to the UN Ceasefire Call as a co-creator of the “Ceasefires in a time of Covid-19” interactive tracker. Her research has also previously contributed to a UN Expert Group meeting on gender and humanitarian access in peace agreements. Laura holds a MA in Comparative Ethnic Conflict from Queen’s University Belfast.

Ian Russell is a Research Assistant with the Political Settlements Research Programme and a Leverhulme Perfect Storm Doctoral Scholar based in the Centre for African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He is a co-author of the report “Breathing Space: Vaccination Ceasefires in the Context of Covid-19” and of the VaxxPaxx Vaccination Ceasefires Dataset. His doctoral research focusses on the role that public universities have played in processes of post-war recovery in Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.