Pathways to peace? A mixed methods study of the role of civil society in ceasefire monitoring

  • Margaux Pinaud

Student thesis: Unknown


Conflict parties commonly sign ceasefires during civil wars and task groups to monitor their implementation. However, so far, we know little about how these monitoring mechanisms shape the direction of ceasefires and of peace processes. Research and practice in this area has also focused on the international and military nature of ceasefire monitoring tasks, often overlooking the role of domestic stakeholders, including civil society. To address this knowledge gap, this thesis asks: how does the involvement of civil society in ceasefire monitoring mechanisms influence peace processes? Using survival analysis and an in-depth case study of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, the thesis shows that involving civil society in ceasefire monitoring mechanisms helps reduce fighting between conflict parties and lay the conditions for sustainable security and political transitions. Specifically, civil society helps conflict parties overcome key obstacles to cooperation during the implementation of ceasefires through one or a combination of four pathways, namely i) changing the parties’ incentives to cheat; ii) preventing involuntary escalations in the field; iii) avoiding blockages in the peace talks; and iv) deterring opposition from outside spoilers and the population. It draws on key advantages, including high local legitimacy, an ability to mobilise broad networks and prior experience in monitoring compliance to international standards, for instance in the field of human rights. Yet, ceasefire monitoring by civil society is not a panacea. Civil society faces major constraints, which significantly impact its effectiveness in ceasefire mechanisms through the four pathways. This includes the lack of political will among conflict parties for peace processes. This also includes the difficulty for civil society monitors to remain detached from the abuses witnessed or from their political aspirations, especially in the context of democratic transitions. Finally, this includes inefficiencies in monitoring mechanisms’ design, such as a delayed operationalisation, a lack of resources and a lack of political, ethnic and gender diversity among the monitors. As the Nepal case shows, these constraints can enable a climate of impunity during the implementation of ceasefires and negatively impact conflict parties’ decision to involve civil society in the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements later. In the conclusion, the thesis calls for more research on civil society’s role in ceasefire monitoring in other contexts and on the ways to improve its effectiveness, notably by combining the resources available domestically and internationally.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLarissa Fast (Supervisor) & Birte Vogel (Supervisor)


  • Inclusivity
  • Path dependency
  • Civil society
  • Mixed methods
  • Civil war
  • Monitoring
  • Ceasefire
  • Peace process

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