96 But see 2 Witness To Truth: Report Of The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission ¶559 (2004). Over the past fifteen years, there has been an increase in peace agreements. About 50 percent of civil wars have ended in peace agreements since 1990, more than in the previous two centuries combined, when only one in five has led to a negotiated solution. Numerically, these settlements represent more than three hundred peace agreements in about forty jurisdictions. International standards have even begun to regulate peace agreements. The guidelines, directives and recommendations of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council have dealt normatively with all peace agreements: both the processes by which they are negotiated and their content, in particular with regard to accountability for past human rights violations. What is a peace treaty? It is a legal agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the two sides. Peace treaties differ from other international documents that control conflicts in that they are often the culmination of international discussions on peace and seek lasting solutions by creating the conditions for peace. A peace treaty is not the same as a capitulation in which one party agrees to renounce arms; or a ceasefire in which the parties agree to temporarily suspend hostilities; or a ceasefire agreement in which the parties agree to cease hostilities but do not agree on the long-term conditions for peace. However, one or all of these documents may precede the execution of a peace treaty between two parties. Conflicts could initially end with the capitulation of one party or a compromised ceasefire agreement. This could be followed by an armistice agreement, as in the case of the Korean War in 1953. In such circumstances, the permanent conditions for the settlement of conflicts may be definitively laid down in a formal peace treaty.
Peace treaties can also be distinguished from peace agreements. Peace treaties generally include separate sovereign nation-states. In recent years, however, the international community has been forced to rethink how peace treaties could be used to resolve not only conflicts between nations, but also conflicts within nations. .