To Really Help Gaza, Not Just Any Cease-Fire Will Do

To Really Help Gaza, Not Just Any Cease-Fire Will Do
A protester holds a sign reading, “Ceasefire Now,” at a demonstration calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war in Gaza, in Munich, Germany, Nov. 11, 2023 (Sipa photo via AP Images).

As public outrage over the humanitarian impact of Israel’s military operations in Gaza grows, calls for a cease-fire in the U.S. and globally are mounting. Analysts rightly point to the rising costs for U.S. credibility as it faces growing isolation in the international community for its steadfast support of Israel. But for those concerned with the bottom-line humanitarian outcomes in the conflict, is a cease-fire ultimately the best way forward?

The reality is that cease-fires often fail and for the most part have limited and at times even adverse impacts. There are, however, certain circumstances when cease-fires can make a difference. These lessons from the past failures and successes of cease-fires, and not political outrage, should inform the U.S. response to the horrific humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

Research on the use of cease-fires in conflicts reveals relatively disappointing results that have largely been ignored in the current clamor for a cease-fire as the primary response to suffering in Gaza. In fact, cease-fires are very common in violent conflicts. Between 1989 and 2020, more than 2,000 were declared globally. However, their impacts are often limited. Scholars Corinne Bara, Govinda Clayton and Siri Rustad found that about one in three civil conflicts observe at least one cease-fire each year, but they “rarely end violence, and, if temporary, can lead to future escalation.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review