On Thursday 24 November 2016, The Hague Institute co-organized with The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) a closed invitation-only event, entitled “Syria’s refugees: preparing for a brighter future”. Scheduled during the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (16-24 November 2016) and generously funded by NWO-Wotro, this event focused on an exploration of deeper drivers of insecurity and inequality that exist within the Syrian refugee population: statelessness and accountability for international crimes.
The moderator, Mr. Dick Oosting, Board Member of ISI and former CEO of the European Council on Foreign Relations, explained how the conflict in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale: 4.8 million refugees from Syria are registered in neighbouring countries and over 1 million have made their way to Europe. All speakers from the three partner organizations, Dr. Laura van Waas and Zahra Albarazi from the ISI and Dr. Jill Coster van Voorhout, LLM, MSc, from the Hague Institute indicated how meeting the immediate humanitarian needs of this population presents a significant challenge. However, preparing for a brighter future for Syria’s refugees requires a multi-faceted response which also acknowledges and responds to certain deeper drivers of insecurity and inequality. Therefore, this event focused on two lesser-known, yet crucial, areas of intervention for Syria’s refugees: statelessness and collection of information about international crimes. Research findings relating to both of these issues have been presented, along with tools and guidelines which are being developed to help inform relevant activities by humanitarian actors.
During the first part of the event, a Toolkit was presented which provides information and guidance to help humanitarian actors in their work to: 1) Prevent new cases of statelessness among Syrian refugees, including children; and 2) Address any gaps in the protection of stateless refugees. This aspect of the event also marked the official launch of the research report and accompanying Toolkit.
During the second part of the event, a consultation with humanitarian actors was held, in order to establish what types of guidelines would support humanitarian actors who decide to collect information about international crimes. Building on its track record of establishing such guidelines for fact-finding and accountability for international and transnational crimes, the Institute explored with humanitarian actors whether they would require help to: 1) Decide whether or not to collect information on international crimes; and 2) Use basic guidelines as to how they should collect such information without undermining possible future accountability processes. This second part of the event entailed a first official consultation with humanitarian actors about the parameters for these guidelines.
The Hague Institute is committed to continue to work on fact-finding and accountability for international and transnational crimes, as it does in the context of projects such as Fact-finding in Lebanon project (2016-18); From Fact-Finding to Evidence (2014-16) and in an Anti-human trafficking Public-Private Partnership (2015ff).