The Dangers and Difficulties of Counting Victims in Syria

The plight of thousands of detained Syrians has come to public attention in recent months, as the government has begun to update civil registries with previously unreported deaths in custody. Many of the news reports covering this issue include the number of those who are currently believed to be held in government-run detention facilities. Such […]

#EyesOnIdlib: Prioritizing Syria at the UN General Assembly

Next week, heads of state and foreign ministers will gather at the United Nations in New York for the annual high-level week during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. In the backdrop of the meetings will be the impending humanitarian crisis in Idlib. The 3 million residents of Idlib remain threatened by the […]

“De Mistura: Your Silence was Better.”

Despite warnings from the international community, the Syrian government and Russian allies appear to be following through on threats to retake control of Idlib. On Tuesday, Syrian and Russian planes conducted airstrikes near Jisr al-Shughour on the outskirts of rebel-held territory, killing twelve civilians. The situation in Idlib remains dire. Population transfers have resulted in […]

What Kofi Annan Understood about Syria

In the days since the death of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, many have written touching tributes about his historic tenure at the United Nations and his role in mediating peace in Kenya and East Timor. Annan’s role as the UN Special Envoy for Syria, however, has received comparatively little attention. Annan was the […]

A Humanitarian Tragedy Looms as Battle for Idlib Nears

Over the past year, the Syrian government has slowly regained territory across the country, including retaking all but one of the so-called de-escalation zones. With the recapture of each area, civilians and rebels have evacuated to the only remaining opposition-controlled zone in Idlib. As the Syrian government looks to regain total control of the country, […]

Syrian Refugees Fear Return; Russia is Attempting to Force Them Back Anyway

In recent months, Syria and its backers have begun to shift their policy and rhetoric, preparing for an end to the conflict, or at least the perception of an end. The government is releasing the names of detainees who died in government prisons, passing legislation in preparation for reconstruction, and most recently, calling for the […]

The White Helmets Rescue and Who was Left Behind

The July 22 evacuation of 98 members of the White Helmets and their families from Syria has rightly been hailed as a multilateral achievement. Canada, the UK, the US, and Germany negotiated a rescue arrangement with Israel and Jordan to remove the White Helmets and transferring them to Jordan, for future resettlement in Europe.  However, […]

Seeking Truth for Syria’s Disappeared

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, tens of thousands of people have been disappeared, captured and detained by state entities and, to a lesser extent, non-state armed groups, that provide no information about a detainee’s status or whereabouts. In recent weeks, however, the government has quietly begun updating the records of civil registries, […]

What Trump Failed to Say in Helsinki

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Monday in Helsinki for the first official meeting between the two leaders. At the summit, President Putin stated that “establishing peace and reconciliation” in Syria is of mutual interest to the United States and Russia and that these tasks “could be the first showcase example […]

Strengthening, not Abandoning, the Human Rights Council

Last month the United States officially withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), calling the Council a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.” Although few would argue that reforms are not needed, blanket criticisms of the UNHRC disregard that the Council has provided one of the only spaces for […]