Data reveals effect of pandemic on ceasefires

The Covid-19 pandemic has not paused conflict around the world – despite calls for a global ceasefire, researchers have found.

Even in the time of a global public health crisis, ceasefires have proved difficult to implement and hold, data from a new research tool suggests.

Researchers at the University jointly developed a publicly available digital tracking tool to examine the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on peace processes and armed conflict across the world. 

They assessed the progress of agreements following the United Nations’ call for a global ceasefire to  support the fight against coronavirus in March. 

Global support

More than 170 states supported the UN’s appeal, as did other peacebuilding and religious organisations.

Researchers found that, although there was an initial surge in ceasefire announcements in nearly all regions, in some cases this has not resulted in a longstanding end to hostilities.

For example, fighting in Yemen has continued, and the conflict in Libya has accelerated.

The data demonstrates the challenges of reaching sustained ceasefires in complex conflicts, experts say.

Tracking ceasefires

Researchers developed the Covid-19 ceasefire tracker to monitor the progress of ceasefires alongside live data on infection rates in country.

The digital tool has been developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlements Research Programme, MediatEUr (European Forum for international Mediation), The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), ETH Zurich – a research University, Conciliation Resources, and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Further research inputs have been received by the Mediation Support Unit in the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

This ceasefire tool assists international organisations such as the UN, peacebuilding organisations, and people in-country, to monitor both the pandemic and ceasefires.

Professor Christine BellDirector of the University of Edinburgh's Political Settlements Research Programme

On 1 July the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a global ceasefire to enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance during Covid-19. 

International endorsement

With the recent endorsement of UN Security Council Resolution 2532, the world has acknowledged Secretary General Guterres’ statement that ‘the fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.’ USIP is pleased to collaborate on this timely initiative to equip practitioners and policymakers around the world with solid evidence to inform and bolster their efforts to build peace.

Nancy LindborgPresident  and CEO of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

This innovative digital tool enables experts working on peace process support to track the cessation of hostilities in real-time, accurately identify where their support can be best-placed and have a critical bird's-eye view of the interplay between ceasefire developments and the evolution of the pandemic.

Kathrin QuesadaSEO MediaEUr

Developing a clearer understanding of when and why ceasefires occur, and how these arrangements influence conflict and peacemaking process, are pressing questions that can benefit from close collaboration between academic and policy constituencies. The Covid-19 Ceasefires Tracker provides a valuable tool for both communities to explore and assess the response to the United Nations call for a global ceasefire.

Dr Govinda Clayton Leader of Civil Wars Ceasefires Research Programme, Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich.

Ceasefires in civil war is a greatly under-researched area. The Covid-19 Ceasefires Tracker allows us to identify and explore mechanisms related to humanitarian ceasefires, and to better understand the dynamic between belligerents.

Henrik UrdalDirector Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

This digital tool gives up-to-date and accessible information about how ceasefires are working and not working to help end armed violence during the Covid-19 pandemic – essential reading for anyone interested in peacebuilding.

Jonathan CohenExecutive Director, Conciliation Resources

The project is part of the University of Edinburgh’s PeaceTech initiative based at the University of Edinburgh Law School.  

Political Settlements Research Programme

Covid-19 Ceasefires Tracker

[Image credit: Getty Images Plus]