Glossary of Humanitarian Terms on Pauses During Conflict
14 March 2022
During war, parties might agree to a pause in fighting to allow life-saving assistance to reach civilians or to carry out peace talks.
It is important to differentiate between these scenarios, particularly between pauses purely for humanitarian purposes and those agreed as part of a political process.
A temporary cessation of hostilities purely for humanitarian purposes. Requiring the agreement of all relevant parties, it is usually for a defined period and specific geographic area where the humanitarian activities are to be carried out.
Specific routes and logistical methods agreed upon by all relevant parties to allow the safe passage of humanitarian goods and/or people from one point to another in an area of active fighting.
Humanitarian notification system or “De-confliction arrangements”
The exchange of logistical information between humanitarian actors and parties to conflict to coordinate the time and locations of relief activities. Such arrangements ensure military operations do not jeopardize the lives of humanitarian personnel, impede the passage of relief supplies or implementation of humanitarian activities, or endanger beneficiaries
A suspension of fighting agreed upon by the parties to a conflict, typically as part of a political process. It is intended to be long-term and often covers the entire geographic area of the conflict. Its aim is usually to allow parties to engage in dialogue, including the possibility of reaching a permanent political settlement.
Cessation of hostilities
The suspension of active hostilities is intended to allow parties to take a break from fighting for various reasons, including as a step towards political dialogue and a sustained ceasefire.
Temporary cessation of hostilities
A suspension of fighting agreed upon by all relevant parties for a specific period. It may be undertaken for various reasons, including for humanitarian purposes. In such cases, the agreement identifies the geographic area of operations and the period during which specific humanitarian activities will be carried out.
Days of tranquility
A mechanism used primarily by UNICEF, often in collaboration with WHO, to enable children to have access to health care during conflict, for example to undertake national immunization campaigns or other exclusively humanitarian activities. Days of tranquility require the agreement of all relevant parties to grant access to and not interfere with the work of medical and other personnel during the designated days.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs