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War and peace

In this pre-advanced vocabulary lesson about War and Peace, you will explore essential terms related to conflict, peacekeeping, and diplomacy, enhancing your understanding of global affairs. Check the following pictures and read the definitions.

Nouns and noun phrases

Pre-advanced English vocabulary about war and peace (nouns and noun phrases)

A 1 ceasefire is an agreement between two fighting parties to stop fighting temporarily. A ceasefire can occur for many reasons, often to allow civilians to evacuate an area before fighting resumes.

  • A two-day ceasefire was announced to enable discussions between leaders of both parties.

In a country under foreign occupation or ruled by a harsh government, 2 the resistance is a group of people who secretly fight against those in power.

  • The resistance was determined to overthrow the tyrannical government and establish a new order.

A 3 civil war is a war between two organised groups within a country or state.

  • Clashes between the two fundamentalist groups resulted in civil war.

4 Sanctions are actions that countries use to punish and isolate another country when it breaks international rules.

  • Trade sanctions have been imposed on the country.

5 Disarmament is the act of reducing the number of weapons, especially nuclear weapons, that a country has.

  • Not all the heads of state were in favour of disarmament.

6 Humanitarian aid is assistance that is given to groups of people who are suffering as a result of warfare or natural disasters. This assistance usually consists of the provision of food, shelter, or medical care and is carried out by humanitarian organisations.

  • Without humanitarian aid, these people have little hope of survival.

A 7 refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape persecution or war.

  • The refugees had fled their country with very few worldly possessions.

A 8 peacemaker is a person or party that tries to intervene and make peace between fighting countries, states, or parties.

  • We hope the peacemaker will influence the leaders’ decision.

9 Military intervention is the interference of a state or group of states in the political affairs of another through the use of military force.

  • Military intervention by neighboring countries helped stabilize the war-torn nation.

A 10 humanitarian crisis is an event or situation that poses a threat to the health or well-being of a large number of people. Most humanitarian crises occur as a result of warfare, natural disasters, or oppressive political regimes.

  • This conflict has the potential to become the biggest humanitarian crisis of the century.

11 Peace negotiations are formal discussions between countries, states, or groups involved in a military dispute to try to bring about peace.

  • We hope that the peace negotiations will bring an end to this horrible war.

12 War crimes are illegal acts carried out during wartime that violate the international laws of war. Common examples of war crimes include torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

  • The leader has been accused of genocide and other war crimes.

13 Civilian casualties is a term that refers to members of the public (civilians) who suffer or are killed as a result of wartime acts such as bombings, shootings, or raids.

  • Raids on the villages resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

A 14 peacekeeping mission is when a group of military personnel is sent to a war zone or country where there is fighting to try and prevent more violence.

  • Troops have been sent on a peacekeeping mission to the eastern region of the country.

A 15 peace treaty is a written agreement between two hostile parties, countries, or states that formally ends the state of war between them.

  • The peace treaty was signed by the leaders of both the warring parties.

16 Insurgency is a movement within a country or state that is dedicated to overthrowing the government. Incidents of insurgency are most common in countries suffering under dictatorships or oppressive regimes.

  • The president’s fear of insurgency has caused him to increase security measures.

Verbs, phrasal verbs and verb phrases

Pre-advanced English vocabulary about war and peace (verbs and verb phrases)

1 Overthrow means to remove a government or leader from power by force. Civilians sometimes attempt to overthrow a leader or government that is oppressive.

  • Many attempts have been made to overthrow the leader.

If a war, conflict or fight 2 breaks out, it starts.

  • War broke out in the region last month.

If a conflict, fighting, etc 3 escalates, it intensifies or becomes worse very quickly.

  • Fighting in the region has escalated in the past few days.

If you 4 capture someone or something, you catch them, especially in a war.

  • Many enemy soldiers have been captured and are now being held as prisoners of war.

5 Release means to free someone or something from a place. If a hostage or prisoner is released, they are set free.

  • The hostages are unlikely to be released unless the soldiers’ demands are met.

6 Defeat means to win against someone in a fight or competition, so when a country or state defeats another in warfare, it means they win a battle.

  • The French were defeated by the Germans in the battle.

7 Surrender means to give in, to accept that you are defeated and stop fighting. Countries may surrender peacefully after being defeated in a battle.

  • Realising victory was impossible, the leader had little choice but to surrender.

When an army 8 retreats, it moves away from enemy forces in order to avoid fighting them.

  • As the enemy advanced, the troops had to retreat quickly to avoid being surrounded.

The verb 9 carry out means to perform a planned action, so carry out a ceasefire means to go through with a ceasefire as planned, and carry out a military operation means to conduct a military operation.

  • Representatives from both parties agreed to carry out a 24-hour ceasefire.

If troops (soldiers) 10 stand down, they withdraw from military operations, or reduce their military activity.

  • The general ordered his troops to stand down and return to base after tensions escalated.

11 Pull out means to withdraw from something, so when a country or state pulls out of a conflict, they retreat.

  • Fearing further bombardment, two states pulled out of the conflict.

When soldiers, police, etc. 12 put down a riot or rebellion, they stop it by using force.

  • The government is doing its utmost to put down the rebellion.

13 Take over means to assume control of something. When a government, state, or group takes over territory, they take possession or control of it.

  • Victory in the battle enabled the leader to take over the eastern territory.

When police or other authorised individuals 14 break up a protest, they bring the protest to an end, often forcibly.

  • Extra police were called in to try and break up the protest.

If a group of people 15 ambush their enemies, they attack them after hiding and waiting for them.

  • During our mission in the jungle, we were ambushed by an enemy guerrilla group.

If someone 16 blows something up or if something blows up, it is destroyed by an explosion.

  • Terrorists blew up the building by planting a bomb in the parking lot.