Syria's peace: what, how, when?

In February 2013 Syrian political and civil society activists met with scholars, policymakers and analysts around the question Syria's peace: what, how, when? You can read an account of the day, or watch a film of Session 2 (on the right).

Now we invite you to continue the debate online. Were France and Britain right to push for the lifting of the arms embargo? How important are emerging civil administrations? What role should international Syrian elites have now and in the future? Ultimately, where will peace come from?

Below you will find analyses put forward by panellists, workshop participants and conveners. We welcome your contributions.

The event was organised by openSecurity and supported by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, NOREF.


Libya, Syria and the “responsibility to protect”: a moment of inflection?

Since the Rwandan genocide and the wars in former Yugoslavia, the idea of a “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations has acquired currency. The Libyan and Syrian crises have, however, seen the value of that currency recalibrated.

On the frontline: citizen journalism in Syria

As the Syrian civil war moves into its fourth year, citizen journalists have filled the gap left by professionals denied access to or evacuated from the most dangerous country in the world for working journalists. But they are painfully aware of the growing uninterest of the international media in the unending conflict.

Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis

It wasn’t as if Lebanon didn’t have troubles enough, with a shaky government finally formed last month. But the Syrian refugee crisis is taking a huge toll on a country which desperately needs international support.

Turkey, the EU and Syria: reprioritising refugees’ rights and needs

Turkey, historically a laggard on taking in refugees, is showing the EU in a poor light on accepting Syrian asylum-seekers.

Bulgaria's 'chilly welcome' to Syrian refugees

As the civil war in Syria continues, refugees are desperately seeking refuge. It seems that Bulgaria has consistently preferred to engage in exacerbating the situation. Bulgarians have built a wall and are allowing far-right xenophobic rhetoric to prevail.

Syria: from corridor diplomacy to humanitarian corridors

With the larger substantive issues of ceasefires and political transition at an impasse, the ground broken over humanitarian access has suddenly become a metric for whether the first phase of Geneva II will be considered a success.

Violence against women in Syria: a hidden truth

Despite saturated media coverage of the conflict, violence against women in Syria has largely gone unreported. Often horrifically abused, they have been doubly victimised by the public silence.

Hamas’ response to the Syrian uprising

Are we now witnessing a third phase in Hamas’s response towards the Syrian Uprising?

Time to be bold and make peace in Syria

The regime and main opposition factions in Syria are setting preconditions for victory. Alternative, democratic preconditions need to be set for the Geneva talks to end an unwinnable war.

Syria's refugees: international effort needed

An Amnesty International report has highlighted the huge gap between the Syrian refugee crisis and the global response. Fortress Europe needs to discover an ethos of hospitality

Syria's chemical weapons: is the UN exceeding its mandate?

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should be a technical agency of the UN. But it has arguably become a piece in a geo-political chess game dominated by the US, invited into Syria to act in contravention of its remit. 

Geneva II: prospects for a negotiated peace in Syria

With a fractious opposition internally and rival external powers engaged, the prospects are challenging for the ‘Geneva II’ conference on Syria. Threat of indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court could concentrate combatant minds.

Brokering Geneva II

How can the US and Russia look past their longstanding rivalry to move the political track forward and bring Syrian parties to the negotiating table?

Iran nuclear deal: the fall-out

The interim nuclear deal between the western powers and Iran faces significant domestic and international challenges. But after long hostility it may prove a trust-building stepping-stone to a larger agreement.

Syria: CW disarmament enters critical phase as hell breaks loose

If by any chance a rogue group gets hold of CW – even from an entirely different source – and uses them, we will be back to the prospect of missile strikes again. Knowing that to be the case, some rogue groups may well set out to provoke just that.

Why casualty recording matters

After narrowly avoiding military intervention in Syria, it is time for decision-makers to realise that there is a way to strengthen and reinforce the norms behind humanitarian intervention: systematic civilian casualty recording.

Syria: Lattakia transformed

The coastal city of Lattakia has been largely spared the intense violence and destruction of other Syrian cities. But it has not been immune to the changes that define the new norm of daily life. 

Destroying Syria’s chemical weapons

The expert responsible for chemical weapons destruction operations in Iraq from 1991-94 takes a look at the challenge in Syria. A key decision will be whether to move all of the chemical weapons to a single location for destruction or undertake their destruction at the individual sites.

Mission accomplished? Syria, the antiwar movement and the spirit of internationalism

The Assad killing machine, which was overwhelmingly nonchemical to begin with, can continue unfettered on its rampage. The killing fields of Syria – no end in sight.

Democracy, Syria and the western way of war

The manner in which the Syrian crisis has been addressed by western polities signals a shift, at least for now, in how acts of war are deliberated by those governments considering military intervention. But how significant is this? There is both some good and bad news in this regard.

Pity the people of Syria - and the principle of R2P

Though postponed, the US still threatens to attack Syria to punish the Assad government for the use of chemical weapons. But it would be illegal, and ineffective - helping neither the people of Syria, nor the principles of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Translations: Español,العربية.

R2P – hindrance not a help in the Syrian crisis

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine has failed to build an international consensus for action to protect civilians in Syria. Worse, R2P’s implicit support for military action without UN authorization has contributed to the UN’s paralysis. Translations: Españolالعربية.

Britain’s chemical responsibility

To truly understand the need for Britain to make peaceful inroads with Syria, we must look back to the tragedies handed down to us by our predecessors.

R2P down but not out after Libya and Syria

The world’s failure to respond effectively to ongoing atrocities in Syria may mean Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is down, but it’s not out. R2P still offers a principled approach to react to a chemical weapons atrocity in the face of likely Security Council vetoes. Translations: Españolالعربية.

Beyond crime and punishment: UK non-military options in Syria

As direct military intervention has been ruled out for the UK by the Commons, we must turn to our non-military options to see how the UK can now push for peace and make an impact for the good in Syria.

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