Regional Focus: Middle East and Northern Africa

Country-focus: Syria

With the appointment in 2017 of Hanny Megally, CIC’s lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) program, to the UN Syria Commission of Inquiry (CoI), CIC’s MENA program has focused on providing supportive analysis on how to improve justice outcomes for victims and survivors in Syria. This work has included an ongoing partnership with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).

Research and advocacy on Syria by CIC, ICTJ, and the CoI have focused on several issues—the impact of the pandemic; the humanitarian situation and aid modalities; the challenges of obtaining or renewing civil documentation; internment and repatriation of families of suspected ISIL fighter—and in particular the issue of the missing/disappeared in Syria.

Over 2021-22, the focus has been on the issue of the missing/disappeared through participation in consultations—many organized by the Families Associations supported by member states; meeting and advocating with key UN officials and diplomats; addressing the Third Committee of the General Assembly on the issue in October 2021 and publishing a policy paper with the CoI in June 2022.

Results have been as follows:

  • Advocacy was instrumental in the passage of an UNGA resolution in December 2021 that resulted in a study released by the UN secretary-general in August 2022. The study calls for the establishment of an international mechanism to assist in the search for the missing/disappeared in Syria. The CIC lead had been involved in several consultations, including at Glion in February 2022, informing the drafting of the study.
  • More recently, as a member of the CoI, the CIC lead has focused on efforts at the UN General Assembly to implement the recommendations of the secretary-general’s study, including by addressing the Third Committee, eliciting the support of the President of the General Assembly, and exploring with a number of key member states the process for establishing the mechanism. As part of this advocacy, several Op-Eds were also published in English, Arabic, Spanish, and German-based media such as Al Jazeera, The New Arab, Página 12, and Tagesspiegel.

Further Reading

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