A ceasefire (or truce), also spelled cease fire (the antonym of 'open fire'), is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Historically, the concept existed at least by the time of the Middle Ages, when it was known as a 'truce of God'. Ceasefires can be declared as a humanitarian gesture, be preliminary, i.e., prior to a political agreement, or definitive, i.e., with the intention of resolving a conflict. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces.
Ceasefires may be between state actors or involve non-state actors.They may be formal (usually written), or informal; their conditions may be public or secret. Ceasefires may occur via mediation or otherwise as part of a peace process or be imposed by United Nations Security Council resolutions via Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
A ceasefire is usually more limited than a broader armistice, which is a formal agreement to end fighting. Ceasefires may be abused by parties as cover to re-arm or reposition forces,and they typically fail, when they are referred to as 'failed ceasefires'; however, successful ceasefires may be followed by armistices and then by peace treaties.
The durability of ceasefire agreements is affected by several factors, such as demilitarized zones, withdrawal of troops and third-party guarantees and monitoring (e.g. peacekeeping). Ceasefire agreements are more likely to be durable when they reduce incentives to attack, reduce uncertainty about the adversary's intentions, and when mechanisms are put in place to prevent and control accidents from developing into conflict.
During World War I, on December 24, 1914, there was an official ceasefire on the Western Front as France, the United Kingdom, and Germany observed Christmas. There are accounts that claimed the unofficial ceasefire took place throughout the week leading to Christmas, and that British and German troops exchanged seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches.The ceasefire was brief but spontaneous. Beginning when German soldiers lit Christmas trees, it quickly spread up and down the Western Front. One account described the development in the following words:
It was good to see the human spirit prevailed amongst all sides at the front, the sharing and fraternity. All was well until the higher echelons of command got to hear about the effect of the ceasefire, whereby their wrath ensured a return to hostilities.
There was no peace treaty signed during the Christmas truce, and the war resumed after a few days.
The Karachi Agreement of 1949 was signed by the military representatives of India and Pakistan, supervised by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, establishing a cease-fire line in Kashmir following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
On November 29, 1952, the US president-elect, Dwight D. Eisenhower, went to Korea to see how to end the Korean War. With the UN's acceptance of India's proposed armistice, the ceasefire of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the People's Volunteer Army (PVA), and the UN Command had the battle line approximately at the 38th parallel north. These parties signed the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953, to end the fighting.South Korean President Syngman Rhee attacked the peace proceedings and did not sign the armistice. Upon agreeing to the ceasefire agreement, which called upon the governments of South Korea, North Korea, China, and the United States to participate in continued peace talks. The principal belligerents established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has since been patrolled by the KPA and the joint Republic of Korea Army, US, and UN Command. The war is considered to have ended at that point even though there still is no peace treaty.
On New Years Day, 1968, Pope Paul VI convinced South Vietnam and the United States to declare a 24-hour-truce. However, the Viet Cong and North Vietnam did not adhere to the truce, and ambushed the 2nd Battalion, Republic of Vietnam Marine Division, 10 minutes after midnight in Mỹ Tho. The Viet Cong would also attack a U.S. Army fire support base near Saigon, causing more casualties.
On January 15, 1973, US President Richard Nixon ordered a ceasefire of the aerial bombings in North Vietnam. The decision came after Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor to the President, returned to Washington, DC, from Paris, France, with a draft peace proposal. Combat missions continued in South Vietnam. By January 27, 1973, all parties of the Vietnam War signed a ceasefire as a prelude to the Paris Peace Accord.
After Iraq was driven out of Kuwait by US-led coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm, Iraq and the UN Security Council signed a ceasefire agreement on March 3, 1991.Subsequently, throughout the 1990s, the U.N. Security Council passed numerous resolutions calling for Iraq to disarm its weapons of mass destruction unconditionally and immediately. Because no peace treaty was signed after the Gulf War, the war still remained in effect, including an alleged assassination attempt of former US President George H. W. Bush by Iraqi agents while on a visit to Kuwait; Iraq being bombed in June 1993 as a response, Iraqi forces firing on coalition aircraft patrolling the Iraqi no-fly zones, US President Bill Clinton's bombing of Baghdad in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox, and an earlier 1996 bombing of Iraq by the US during Operation Desert Strike. The war remained in effect until 2003, when US and UK forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime from power.
A UN-mediated ceasefire was agreed between India and Pakistan, on 1 January 1949, ending the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 (also called the 1947 Kashmir War). Fighting broke out between the two newly independent countries in Kashmir in October 1947, with India intervening on behalf of the princely ruler of Kashmir, who had joined India, and Pakistan supporting the rebels. The fighting was limited to Kashmir, but, apprehensive that it might develop into a full-scale international war, India referred the matter to the UN Security Council under Article 35 of the UN Charter, which addresses situations "likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace". The Security Council set up the dedicated United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, which mediated for an entire year as the fighting continued. After several UN resolutions outlining a procedure for resolving the dispute via a plebiscite, a ceasefire agreement was reached between the countries towards the end of December 1948, which came into effect in the New Year. The Security Council set up the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to monitor the ceasefire line.India declared a ceasefire in Kashmir Valley during Ramadan in 2018.
The Irish Republican Army held several Christmas ceasefires (usually referred to as truces) during the Northern Ireland conflict.
An example of a ceasefire in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict was announced between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority on February 8, 2005. When announced, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat publicly defined the ceasefire as follows: "We have agreed that today President Mahmoud Abbas will declare a full cessation of violence against Israelis anywhere and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will declare a full cessation of violence and military activities against Palestinians anywhere."
Several attempts have been made to broker ceasefires in the Syrian Civil War.
The 2020 global ceasefire was a response to a formal appeal by United Nations Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres on March 23 for a global ceasefire as part of the United Nations' response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. On 24 June, 2020, 170 UN Member States and Observers signed a non-binding statement in support of the appeal, rising to 172 on 25 June, 2020, and on 1 July 2020, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding a general and immediate global cessation of hostilities for at least 90 days.
An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, as it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning "arms" and -stitium, meaning "a stopping".
The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is an organization founded on 29 May 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Established amidst the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, its primary task was initially to provide the military command structure to the peacekeeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peacekeepers to observe and maintain the ceasefire, and in assisting the parties to the Armistice Agreements in the supervision of the application and observance of the terms of those Agreements. The organization's structure and role has evolved over time as a result of the various conflicts in the region and at times UNTSO personnel have been used to rapidly deploy to other areas of the Middle East in support of other United Nations operations. The command structure of the UNTSO was maintained to cover the later peacekeeping organisations of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to which UNTSO continues to provide military observers.
A demilitarized zone is an area in which treaties or agreements between nations, military powers or contending groups forbid military installations, activities, or personnel. A DZ often lies along an established frontier or boundary between two or more military powers or alliances. A DZ may sometimes form a de facto international border, such as the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Other examples of demilitarized zones are a 9-mile wide area between Iraq and Kuwait; Antarctica ; and outer space.
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of armistice agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria to formally end the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and establish armistice lines between Israeli forces and Jordanian-Iraqi forces, also known as the Green Line.
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties. It is different from an armistice, which is an agreement to stop hostilities; a surrender, in which an army agrees to give up arms; or a ceasefire or truce, in which the parties may agree to temporarily or permanently stop fighting. The art of negotiating a peace treaty in the modern era has been referred to by legal scholar Christine Bell as the lex pacificatoria, with a peace treaty potentially contributing to the legal framework governing the post conflict period, or jus post bellum.
The history of the United Nations as an international organization has its origins in World War II. Since then its aims and activities have expanded to make it the archetypal international body in the early 21st century.
The Karachi Agreement of 1949 was signed by the military representatives of India and Pakistan, supervised by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, establishing a cease-fire line in Kashmir following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. It established a cease-fire line which has been monitored by United Nations observers from the United Nations since then.
United Nations Command is the multinational military force established to support the Republic of Korea during and after the Korean War. It was the first international unified command in history, and the first attempt at collective security pursuant to the Charter of the United Nations.
The three-line United Nations Security Council Resolution 338, adopted on October 22, 1973, called for a ceasefire in the Yom Kippur War in accordance with a joint proposal by the United States and the Soviet Union. The resolution stipulated a cease fire to take effect within 12 hours of the adoption of the resolution. The "appropriate auspices" was interpreted to mean American or Soviet rather than UN auspices. This third clause helped to establish the framework for the Geneva Conference (1973) held in December 1973.
A United Nations Military Observer (UNMO) is a military official deployed by the United Nations to provide support to a UN mission or peace operation. Described as the "eyes and ears" of the UN Security Council, observers fulfill a variety of roles depending on scope, purpose, and status of the UN mission to which they are attached. A UNMO is generally tasked with monitoring and assessing post-conflict agreements, such as a ceasefire or armistice; the withdrawal of military forces; or the maintenance of a neutral buffer zone. Observers usually undergo special training to ensure neutrality, diplomacy, and deescalation techniques.
The United Nations has played an advisory role in maintaining peace and order in the Kashmir region soon after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, when a dispute erupted between the two States on the question of Jammu and Kashmir. India took this matter to the UN Security Council, which passed resolution 39 (1948) and established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate the issues and mediate between the two countries. Following the cease-fire of hostilities, it also established the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to monitor the cease-fire line.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on 21 April 1948, concerns the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. After hearing arguments from both India and Pakistan, the Council increased the size of the UN Commission created by the former Resolution 39 to five members, instructed the Commission to go to the subcontinent and help the governments of India and Pakistan restore peace and order to the region and prepare for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 80, adopted on March 14, 1950, having received the reports of the Commission for India and Pakistan, as well as a report from General A. G. L. McNaughton, the Council commended India and Pakistan for their compliance with the ceasefire and for the demilitarization of Jammu and Kashmir and agreement on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz as the future Plebiscite Administrator.
The United Nations Peacekeeping efforts began in 1948. Its first activity was in the Middle East to observe and maintain the ceasefire during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Since then, United Nations peacekeepers have taken part in a total of 72 missions around the globe, 14 of which continue today. The peacekeeping force as a whole received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
The Mixed Armistice Commissions (MAC) is an organisation for monitoring the ceasefire along the lines set by the General Armistice Agreements. It was composed of United Nations Military Observers and was part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization peacekeeping force in the Middle East. The MAC comprised on four sections to monitor each of the four truce agreements, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan/Israel MAC, the Israel/Syrian MAC, the Israel/Lebanon MAC and the Egypt/Israel MAC. The various MACs were located on the cease fire lines and, through close liaison with headquarters in Jerusalem, were charged with supervising the truce, investigating border incidents, and taking remedial action to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1172, adopted unanimously on 6 June 1998, after hearing of nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in May 1998, the Council condemned the tests and demanded that both countries refrain from engaging in further tests.
The Korean Armistice Agreement is an armistice that brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by United States Army Lieutenant General William Harrison Jr. and General Mark W. Clark representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korea leader Kim Il-sung and General Nam Il representing the Korean People's Army (KPA), and Peng Dehuai representing the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, and was designed to “ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.”
Several attempts have been made to broker ceasefires in the Syrian Civil War.
A global ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of war on a planetary scale, i.e., by every country. A global ceasefire was first proposed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, 23 March 2020, as part of the United Nations' response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 24 June 2020, 170 UN Member States and Observers signed a non-binding statement in support of the Appeal, and on 1 July 2020, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding a general and immediate cessation of hostilities for at least 90 days and requesting that the UN Secretary-General accelerate the international response to the coronavirus pandemic.