Although ceasefires are regularly used in conflict settings, they vary in scope and detail. At a minimum, ceasefires aim to halt hostilities among fighting parties on a temporal and geographic basis. This has become the standard definition and benchmark for success, which is expected to improve daily conditions for civilians. Drawing on ethnographic research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, I argue that ceasefires can often have ambivalent consequences for civilians. While security conditions improved, their socio-economic livelihood was compromised, and these two aspects are intertwined for subsistence communities. Civilians provided insurgents with basic provisions to help sustain their troops and diffused tensions among protagonists to avoid confrontation. Through this case study, I underscore the importance of broadening how ceasefires are conceptualized and evaluated by considering multiple forms of violence and extraction that occur within these arrangements. Civilian experiences with ceasefires are important as these arrangements can often shape their relations with armed actors.
About the speaker
Carla Suarez is a Banting Fellow with the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Her research interests include peace and conflict studies, the politics of non-state armed groups, gender dynamics during and after war and the ethics of field research in conflict-affected settings. Drawing on immersive field research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), she is currently drafting a book manuscript that examines civilian agency amid alternating peace arrangements by state and non-state armed actors. Her work has been published in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Stability: International Journal of Security, and Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses.
Join the event