Ceasefires and the dynamics of violence in war zones


Project Leader

Project Period

  • 2019-2021

Project Participants

  • Govinda Clayton, Senior Researcher, ETH Zürich


How do ceasefire agreements shape the trajectory of violence in civil war zones? Under what conditions do they stop the killing, and when do they open up new front lines and trigger shifts in the actors, forms, and locations of violence instead? Despite the importance attributed to ceasefires by international peacemakers, few studies have systematically tested their impact on the severity and nature of violence in conflict societies, and there is no current global dataset on ceasefires to do so. This project fills this gap in research on violence during peace processes.

This project is a collaboration with ETH Zürich. As an important part of the project, we are involved in a collaborative effort (together with PRIO in Norway) to create a global dataset of all ceasefires in civil wars between 1989 and 2020.

The current step-motherly treatment of ceasefires in academia defies their importance in actual peace processes: Ceasefires are one of the first stages at which peace processes fail, and violence is the primary culprit. Ceasefire violence therefore not only kills, but it may significantly reduce the chances of an eventual resolution of the conflict. In this project we therefore aim to generate knowledge on how ceasefire violence can be prevented and mitigated in order to increase the chances that ceasefires are a first step towards lasting peace.


  • Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) Project Grant