Search the Site

Do Ceasefires Kill?

When violent conflicts erupt, the international community inevitably calls for a cease-fire.  But is it possible these ceasefires actually worsen later violence?  Yes, according to John A. Stevenson, a political science doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago.  Here’s an excerpt of Stevenson’s recent article for Slate:

My research on all 174 of the internationally recognized new states that have emerged since 1900 and scores of mass killings reveals that international involvement to temporarily address the symptoms of the violence—the mass death of civilians—increases the likelihood of greater violence and destruction. That is because cease-fires do nothing to eliminate the root causes of violence against civilians. Instead, both sides use the pause in killing to solicit diplomatic and military aid while planning and preparing their next wave of attacks.

According to the 2012 Human Security Report, between 1950 and 2004, 62 percent of cease-fires succeeded with no resumption of conflict in the next five years. The success of two-thirds of cease-fires would seem to support their use. Yet, in the civil wars that begin in new or young states, cease-fires typically succeed only after many that do not. In the interim, the belligerents busy themselves rooting out or killing their civilian rivals.

(HT: The Daily Dish)