Challenge to Transitional Justice in Syria – Facing The Geopolitical Context

This roundtable on Transitional Justice (TJ) in Syria was specifically dedicated to discussing and debating the possible TJ instruments and mechanisms that are preferable in the unique geopolitical context of the Syrian conflict and post conflict situation.

The discussion that took place during the roundtable sought to answer the following questions:

  • How can these TJ measures delegitimize former elites and victimizers while at the same time legitimizing representatives of a new political regime (e.g. preventing “winner takes all”)?
  • How can reconciliation and development of a human rights based political regime be achieved and how can TJ measures contribute to this goal?
  • How can the perpetrators best be held accountable for crimes they might have committed, at what moment in time and at what level (international or national level), so as to achieve aims such as restoration and deterrence without frustrating (possible) peace or reconciliation processes?
  • What are the possibilities and what are the limits of TJ instruments and mechanisms in Syria?

The roundtable did not elaborate or discuss TJ measures as such, neither did it add to the number of existing action plans, rather, it aimed to elaborate on the specific sequencing and contextualization of TJ measures in Syria.

Discussants were asked to outline the current efforts in place such as the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry which investigated all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic, e.g. in preparation for a potential TJ process designed to hold perpetrators accountable for those violations.

Secondly, representatives from CSOs, ministries and academia discussed the comparative processes in the region, i.e. the case of Lebanon, and others.

Thirdly, researchers were asked to share their comparative views of early stages of TJ processes elsewhere.

This included assessing who decides during the early transition phase; and whether and how amnesties, punitive measures, memorials and other ways of coming to terms with the past are best balanced in this specific context?

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