Thursday, March 31, 2011

How To Negotiate A Ceasefire (

The Centre For Humanitarian Dialogue, located in Geneva, Switzerland, has done a really good job of pulling together a concise monograph called "Negotiating Ceasefires".  

Only 44 pages from start to finish (including endnotes and a comprehensive list of suggested additional readings), this guidebook is filled with practical advice, concise case studies and quotes from practitioners about the risks and rewards inherent in negotiating a ceasefire.

The author, Luc Chounet-Cambas (who has worked these issues in Afghanistan, Indonesia and the Sudan), does not see the ceasefire process through rose-colored glasses:  "Negotiating ceasefires does not imply," he states up front, "that armed groups no longer see their military capability as a core source of leverage with the state."  This, instead, is a practical volume, written for someone who needs actionable advice.

Of most interest to me personally were the insights on when to negotiate a ceasefire (when the political situation suggests the ceasefire might be sustainable) and the checklist of things to think about putting into a ceasefire agreement (such as de-escalation measures and the extent to which the ceasefire will extend to non-military activities).  Finally, there is a must-read section on options for those thrust into the position of mediator.

I don't know much about the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue but I intend to continue to watch their activities closely (They have two other volumes in this series, Engaging With Armed Groups and A Guide To Mediation:  Enabling Peace Processes In Violent Conflicts for those interested).  

Negotiating Ceasefires is a good, solid volume filled with practical advice from someone who has had to do it, not just talk about it.   Recommended reading.