Syria at the Crossroads: Paving the Path Ahead with International Law and Comparative Examples

This policy paper was written by Monica Leonardo and published by Menapolis with the support of Freedom House.


This policy paper examines the measures vital for a successful and legitimate transitional justice strategy in Syria. Although the outcome of the Syrian conflict remains uncertain, it is necessary to propose what characteristics a potential reconciliation process must encompass. After considering and comparing the examples of other recent transitions in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, several recommendations for the Syrian transition are proposed. The four states considered have each undertaken distinct paths towards transitional justice based on their unique experiences. Consequently, a transitional justice strategy in Syria must comply with international norms and standards, but also take into account its local context. Menapolis advocates for careful consideration of the political and social dynamics of the transition when designing transitional justice mechanisms, but believes that a core set of principles could be followed. The role of civil society, a legal framework, reparations, and amnesty granting are fundamental to Syria’s transitional justice approach. Menapolis advocates for a human rights-based approach to transitional justice, which continuously consults with all affected actors and includes the participation of civil society. Menapolis recommends that Syria institute a comprehensive and dynamic truth-seeking process, as well as initiate institutional reforms that hold perpetrators of past abuses accountable and prevent similar abuses in the future. Although a systematic approach to institutional reform is critical in Syria, it should initially direct its focus to reforming the institution’s personnel and implementing a comprehensive vetting process. These transitional justice strategies will enable Syria to adhere to the principles embedded within international law.


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