International Sanctions Are Not a Substitute for Accountability in Syria

On July 17, the European Union (EU) sanctioned 16 members of the Syrian government accused of facilitating chemical weapons attacks. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson announced that the sanctions send a “clear signal” to the government that its actions have consequences. However, only one month prior, President Emmanuel Macron of France – a key member […]

Responding to Misconceptions Regarding the IIIM

The following article was written through the cooperation of three non-governmental organizations: Syria Justice and Accountability Centre, Syrians for Truth and Justice, and the Violations Documentation Center in Syria. Its content reflects the joint views of these entities.  The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible […]

The Significance of Apologies and Truth-Telling in the Syrian Conflict

  On June 27, former Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlass, 85, died in Paris. Tlass – who served as defense minister from 1972 to 2004 – was a close aide to former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and his son, current president Bashar al-Assad. While defense minister, Tlass ordered up to 150 deaths per week by […]

The Importance of Protecting Mass Graves in Syria

As Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advance on Raqqa, Kurdish sources have reported the discovery of an alleged Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) mass gravesite four kilometers east of Tabqa. According to a 2016 Associated Press survey, ISIS has commonly used mass graves since 2014; the survey estimated ISIS has 72 mass gravesites in […]

Coalition Airstrikes in Syria and the Issue of Civilian Harm

As the US-led global coalition fights the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the Syrian Democratic Forces, the coalition’s partner on the ground, have advanced on Raqqa. But as ISIS’s so-called capital and military stronghold is giving way, civilians have been stuck in the middle of intense fighting. Between August 2014 and April 2017, […]

7 Complex Legal Issues SJAC Has Addressed in its Data Analysis

SJAC aims to achieve meaningful justice for Syria. To contribute to this goal, SJAC activities are designed to produce a complete repository of comprehensive, high-quality, and usable documentation that is prepared to feed into justice mechanisms, both in current court cases in Europe and for future transitional justice processes. As was highlighted recently on NPR, […]

Planning for Post-Conflict Governance in Raqqa

On May 9, as part of the  effort to take back the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), the United States decided  to arm Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to representatives of the SDF, once liberated, governance will fall to the Raqqa Civilian Council, an […]

ECtHR as an Avenue for Accountability: Possibilities and Constraints

As Russia has, for the time being, closed the door on all available means for international accountability against the Assad government’s atrocities in Syria, human rights groups and lawyers have pursued alternative avenues for justice, including through national prosecutions in European jurisdictions. Although the complaints that target high-level government officials are hugely symbolic, it remains […]

US Military Action against Syria and the Policy Vacuum

Last Thursday, the United States launched strikes on the Shayrat Air Field in Damascus in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun that killed over 80 civilians. Non-governmental organizations such as the International Rescue Committee have called on the United States to build upon these strikes “to stop the killing […]

From Condemnation to Accountability: Chemical Attack in Khan Shaykhun

Monday, reports emerged that over 70 civilians died in what appears to be a chemical weapon attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun located in the province of Idlib. Early indicators have led weapons experts to believe the Syrian government perpetrated the attack using a nerve agent, but the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical […]