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a temporary cessation of military action by mutual agreement of the warring parties.

An armistice may be general or local. In a general armistice, military actions cease in the entire theater of war, and the armistice is concluded by the commanders in chief with authorization of their governments. A general armistice usually precedes the conclusion of a peace treaty. Thus, in World War II (1939–45) the United Nations concluded in the period from 1943 to 1945 a general armistice with Italy, Rumania, Finland, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Subsequently, peace treaties were signed with these countries.

A local armistice is established between individual units of the warring parties in a definite sector of the front. It is concluded for a definite period and usually has a special purpose, such as exchange of prisoners or burial of the dead. The 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states that parties to the conflict “shall endeavor to conclude local agreements for the removal from besieged or encircled areas, of wounded, sick, infirm, and aged persons, children and maternity cases, and for the passage of … medical personnel and medical equipment on their way to such areas.” If no definite period for the armistice has been established, the warring parties may renew military actions at any time.

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For the political scientist, the piece examines vital topics such as the power relationships among the actors and the impact that the armistice would have on the American political system and the global arena for times to come.