6.5 Necessary Condition: Cessation of Large-Scale Violence
6.5.1 What is the cessation of large-scale violence? Why is it a necessary condition?
The cessation of politically motivated and large-scale violence is a condition in which major hostilities among warring parties have come to a halt. Armed groups responsible for the conflict have for the most part been defeated95 or physically separated from one another, while faction leaders and extremists are separated from their forces and supporters. In some cases, a cease-fire agreement temporarily sets the terms for a halt in violence. Ending the fighting is the first step in creating lasting peace. Without this, civilians cannot begin their work to restore institutions and services, nor can the host nation population resume normal life. Stopping the violence creates the necessary time and space for a peace agreement to be reached and/or implemented, allowing the warring parties to continue their competitive pursuits in nonviolent ways and within a framework of rules.
6.5.2 Guidance for the Cessation of Large-Scale Violence
6.5.3 Approach: Separation of Warring Parties
Separating warring parties involves establishing distinct areas of control that keeps factions apart from one another and allows peacekeeping forces to monitor their actions. This limits further suffering among civilians, asserts control over fighting forces, and builds confidence nationwide in the prospects for peace. The separation of combatants must be followed up with observation and monitoring of a cease-fire.
6.5.4 Move quickly to separate warring parties and stop the violence. In the early moments of an intervention, the population will likely be shocked and relieved at the sight of peacekeeping troops, while resistance from armed groups will be weak.96 Establishing control at this stage and bringing large-scale fighting to a halt demonstrates authority and assertiveness of the mission.97 The role of international forces in ensuring stability is vital early on until local forces have become effective and accountable enough to provide security.
6.5.5 Separate forces to create time and space for the peace process. Separation of forces can tamp down tensions so that negotiations and implementation of a peace process can proceed. The nature of the conflict will determine how the forces are separated. In interstate conflicts, separation typically involves interpositioning of peacekeepers to create a buffer zone between the two sides. In internal conflicts where combatants and civilians are intermingled, areas or zones of separation are established on the territory as a neutral space or no-man’s land between the parties. Civilians in this neutral space may need to be protected.98 Zone boundaries and entry points must be agreed upon by all parties, clearly marked, and physically identifiable on a map or formal record provided to all parties.99
6.5.6 Apply principles of restraint, impartiality, and consent when dealing with parties to the conflict.100 Because peace is fragile at this stage, be sure to carefully assess the impact of all actions on reigniting conflict. Exercising principles of restraint, impartiality and consent is key.
  • Restraint. Exercising restraint in the use of force against any host nation actor or group of actors is especially important early on when public scrutiny and skepticism are high. A single incident of excessive force could undermine legitimacy by alienating certain groups or enabling spoilers to rally the population against the intervention. Having decisive lethal capacities in these environments is a must, but it is equally important that they be combined with non-lethal capabilities for responding to civil disturbances and managing spoilers.101
  • Impartiality. In dealing with warring parties, avoid actions that could be construed as being partial to an ethnic or religious group. Be sure to communicate the reasons behind certain actions and enforce compliance between groups with consistency against the standards of the peace agreement.
  • Consent. There are various dimensions of consent for the presence of the mission, including consent of the host nation population, the host nation government, neighboring countries, and broader international community. While political complexities will likely make it impossible to achieve full consent on all levels, maximizing the consent of all parties is critical for the legitimacy of the intervention. On the other hand, failure to deal effectively with politically motivated violence will erode consent among those suffering from such violence.
6.5.7 Approach: Enduring Cease-fire/Peace Agreement
The peace agreement is a contract among warring parties that symbolizes the willingness to end violence and paves the way for a longer-term political settlement. At times, this process includes or follows a cease-fire agreement that temporarily halts fighting for the purpose of negotiating the settlement. The ultimate goal is to transform the competitive pursuit of political and economic power from violent to peaceful means.102 All actions in these operations must be tailored to support or advance the peace process.
6.5.8 Understand that stopping armed conflict requires political, not military, solutions. Imposed stability from an international force may be enough to stop the fighting, but it does not ensure that peace will last. A robust political settlement is the cornerstone for sustainable peace that enables warring parties to share power within an agreed framework and resolve their political differences in peaceful ways.103 Whereas traditional UN peacekeeping deployments were almost entirely military in nature, mission mandates today often include a direct role for a force commander to help facilitate a political solution to the conflict, by providing good offices or promoting dialogue and reconciliation. Additional aspects of the political process are discussed in Section 3.4.
6.5.9 Transform the conflict. Reaching a viable political settlement requires convincing faction leaders that their interests are better served through peaceful rather than violent means. Conflict transformation involves a strategy of “diminishing the means and motivations”104 for violence while creating ways for pursuing political and economic goals in nonviolent ways. Engineering such an outcome requires thoroughly understanding the conflict players and their motivations and confronting the forces that prosper from the use of violence. Develop strategies to persuade combatants that there are prospects for a better life and incentives for moving forward with a political settlement, rather than fixating themselves on the bitter grudges of the past.105 There are a number of approaches for doing this, including transforming armed movements into political parties that contend for seats in a national parliament or for executive powers.106 Conflict transformation is also addressed in Section 3.8.
6.5.10 Approach: Management of Spoilers
A peace agreement rarely satisfies the interests of all parties. They often involve political concessions, ambiguous treatment of core issues in the dispute, an exchange of promises that may not be kept, or a loss of control for those whom the conflict has served well. As a result, there often remain powerful incentives for spoilers—paramilitaries, warlords, and extremists—to continue conflict-era activities, feed lawlessness, and maintain illicit or parallel power structures.107 Spoilers perceive the peace process as contradicting their own interests and try to undermine it through violence and intimidation.108 Spoilers are difficult to categorize but are generally defined by their motivations, capability and activities. They can include organized groups, loose confederations of people with related goals, or individuals working alone.109 Spoilers are also addressed in Sections 7.6.5,, and 9.6.
6.5.11 Anticipate obstructionists and understand their motivations. Understanding the characteristics of spoilers can shape the strategies used to influence them, whether it’s bringing them into the process or marginalizing them from it. Ask the following questions to better understand the nature of the spoilers:110
    • Is the group willing to compromise and share power?
    • Can the group be considered a “total” spoiler, unwilling to consider limitations on its power?
    • Is the group greedy—does the group’s demands grow with the prospect of appeasement?
    • Does the group enjoy the support of a neighboring state or have access to resources?
    • Which individuals or communities, if any, have influence over the spoilers?
6.5.12 Create a plan for managing the spoilers. There are two primary approaches for dealing with spoilers in the peace process:
    • Inclusion—Inclusion involves persuading spoilers that their aims can be met peacefully through compromise and the peace process. This approach may be the best option for “limited spoilers,” those whose pursuits are limited and who are willing to accept political compromise. Other methods of inclusion are the reintegration of ex-combatants into society and transforming armed groups into political parties.111
    • Exclusion—Exclusion entails arresting spoilers, shutting them out of the peace process or marginalizing them to limit their influence on the peace process. This can be done in many ways, including by military force or the transitional justice process. Exclusion is appropriate for “total” spoilers—those see the world in all-or-nothing terms, refuse to renounce violence and are unlikely to compromise in achieving their goals. Total spoilers are often motivated by religious or political idealism. The costs of excluding spoilers include greater potential for retaliation and violence, but it may be necessary for zealots whose aims cannot be met through compromise. Exclusion must be used with caution to avoid inciting tensions.112 These approaches, however, are increasingly difficult to apply in complex conflict environments, as many actors may change their positions and demands from one day to the next. Strategies will have to be highly adaptive and dynamic and seek to transform spoilers, through subordination to legitimate government authority, marginalization, defeat, or reintegration.
6.5.13 Maintain the primacy of the peace process. The “primacy of the peace process” means the mission should support those who support the peace process while actively opposing spoilers who obstruct it.113 This forces people to focus on supporting political processes, not personalities or factions.114 All actions, particularly responses to incidents, should be balanced against the requirements of the political process.115 Using the peace process as a standard by which all parties are dealt with allows peacekeepers to respond impartially across the board in a legitimate way. Aspects of the political process are also addressed in Section 3.4.
6.5.14 Adopt an “assertive position” with regard to peace agreement enforcement. Threats to the peace process can exist in many forms: illicit power structures, organized crime networks, rogue intelligence organizations, warlords, militants, fanatical religious groups, or terrorists. Many of these groups have no regard for international laws of war. To assert control over these threats, peacekeeping forces should have the mandated authority to use “all necessary means” to enforce the peace process and show spoilers their aims cannot be achieved outside of that process.116 They must be prepared to investigate violations of the peace agreement and observe refugee movements and potential points of tension. If a breach is witnessed, authorities should swiftly secure evidence, question witnesses before they are coached on what to say, and deal with perpetrators within the legal constraints of the mission. This often involves arrest and detainment of violators to be handed over to civil legal authority. When dealing with members of warring parties, actions should seek to contain rather than exacerbate tensions. Ultimately, peacekeepers must be impartial in dealing with the parties, but not neutral in responding to behavior that obstructs the peace process.
See Trade-off: Section 6.10.3, Applying force vs. maintaining mission legitimacy.
6.5.15 Approach: Intelligence
Intelligence is not a dirty word. It is essential for security. Police need actionable information on politically motivated violence, crimes, and civil disturbances, which requires aggressive and continuous reconnaissance and surveillance. Knowledge allows the police to identify potential hot spots within communities before they ignite and gather information on hostile groups or individuals, terrain, weather, and even the performance of other local police officers. The gathering of intelligence must conform with human rights standards.
See Gap/Challenge: Section 6.11.2, Intelligence.
6.5.16 Remember that the population is the best resource for information. Hiring professional and knowledgeable host nation counterparts, who can speak the language and discern cultural nuances, may be key to gathering necessary information. Other ways are to commission detailed studies on the local political economy and power structures or to build local intelligence institutions or information coordination mechanisms. Overall, a greater investment must be made upfront to acquire adequate knowledge about the country.117 Police also gather intelligence by being present in the communities, building trust, and talking to people. Many humanitarian agencies also have deep knowledge of the situations because they often precede the arrival of peacekeeping forces. Reports, Web sites, and databases created by these organizations can provide rich insight into local situations.118
6.5.17 Local intelligence is a must, but be very aware of sensitivities. Mounting an effective operation against insurgents, militants, spoilers, and other threats requires accurate local intelligence. Intelligence collection should cover the geopolitical situation in the country; historical and cultural influences on the host nation population; and updated assessments on the attitudes, capabilities, intentions, and likely reactions of all relevant actors in a society. While open sources and strategic sources are critical, the richest source of information will be humans on the ground. Intelligence activities, however, can rouse extreme political sensitivities and jeopardize the safety of NGOs, intelligence sources, third-party individuals, international aid workers, commercial enterprises, and foreign governments supporting the operation. Specifically, intelligence-gathering activities must not hamper the neutrality of the International Committee of the Red Cross and its mandate to entertain contacts with non-state actors. Humanitarian principles are further addressed in Section 6.8.4.
6.5.18 Given the sensitivities, be creative in acquiring critical information. Innovative and safe ways to acquire information include public reports routinely published by human rights monitors or NGOs, cease-fire observers, patrol units, and other actors who interact with the host nation population.119 Acquiring critical information can also be improved by providing the population with security, especially in situations involving active insurgencies. In these cases, populations often sit on the fence and are more likely to provide tips on insurgent bases or weapons caches if they feel safe enough to do so.
6.5.19 Coordinate military-police intelligence sharing.120 Police forces, as does the U.S. military, stand up centers to lawfully collect information and develop it into actionable intelligence. Whenever possible in S&R missions, these police and military intelligence centers should be colocated to maximize both efficiency and effectiveness of collection and analysis and to quickly share information.
6.5.20 Develop the capacity to conduct intelligence-led operations against spoilers. Intelligence- led operations target those who seek to oppose the peace process through violent and criminal means. Military and international police resources should be focused on collecting actionable information about the identity of the individuals responsible for extremist violence, their networks, and their vulnerabilities. An intelligence-led operation must contribute to the overall peace process and promote public confidence in the mission. There must be a proactive information campaign to achieve this as part of the overall plan for any such operation. The purposes of intelligence-led operations include the following:121
    • Disruption: The operation may be triggered through the receipt of intelligence that indicates a specific activity has been planned. Thus the operation seeks to interdict the planned event.
    • Dislocation: The operation may be designed to separate a particular individual from extremist or criminal activity by attacking links. It may also seek to undermine popular support for extremist or criminal groups. Deterrence may follow dislocation.
    • Decisive Action: The desired result is a successful criminal prosecution and thus sufficient evidence must be gained from the operation to achieve conviction.