Race to the Ballot Box: UN Must Learn from Past Mistakes, Avoid Pre-Mature Elections in Syria

Last week, the eighth round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition began in Geneva. Leading the talks, Syria Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura prioritized discussion of elections. In March 2016, de Mistura had proposed an 18-month timeline for the election date, and the issue has continued to be on the […]

Ghouta Siege: UN Must Respond to Government-Sanctioned Starvation and Civilian Harm

In October, photos of severely malnourished children in Eastern Ghouta brought renewed international attention to the plight of an estimated 400,000 civilians trapped in the Damascus suburb. Residents have been pushed to the brink of famine after the government tightened its siege in March – blocking all trade and smuggling routes into the region and […]

The Whack-a-Mole Strategy Against ISIS Carries a Civilian Toll

In mid-October, the US military granted safe passage to hundreds of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants out of Raqqa – the group’s de facto capital –  pursuant an evacuation deal arranged by the city’s civil council and tribal elders. This sanctioned exodus is part of a string of deals, which allow members […]

Team Syria’s Success Highlights Deep Fractures in Society

On October 10, the Syrian Arab Republic national football team – “Team Syria” – will compete in its second match against Australia at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium to qualify for its first ever World Cup tournament. Syria’s surprising rise to the World Cup qualifiers has aroused conflicting emotions among Syrians and has allowed the Assad government […]

At the UN, governments and civil society meet to build a foundation for justice in Syria

On September 21, proponents of the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to investigate serious crimes in Syria gathered on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting to discuss developments in the effort to end impunity in Syria and to galvanize international support for the Mechanism. In attendance were representatives from UN Member States, […]

De Mistura versus the Commission of Inquiry: Where does the Syrian conflict actually stand?

  On August 30, UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura delivered a Security Council briefing regarding the situation in Syria, wherein he spoke of de-escalating violence, advancing the political process, and combatting terrorism. In doing so, the Special Envoy painted an illusorily warm portrait of the current situation. The same week, the UN […]

The Responsibility of Technology Companies in the Age of Digital Human Rights Documentation

Over the past few weeks, the video streaming website YouTube has removed thousands of videos and numerous channels of organizations and individuals documenting atrocities from the Syrian conflict. Although some channels and videos were restored following complaints, many significant videos are still missing. The purge is part of a Google effort to implement machine learning […]

Assad’s Son, Math Competitions, and Solving the Syrian Nepotism Equation

On July 17, Hafez Al-Assad, the son of Bashar Al-Assad, participated in the International Math Olympiad competition in Brazil as a member of the Syrian national team. Hafez scored last on the team and received one of the lowest rankings in the entire Olympiad competition. Syrian commentators were quick to ridicule his scores, but their […]