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On February 8, ICTJ held an event in The Hague on the missing and disappeared in Syria, in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event brought together activists, journalists, artists, and policymakers to reflect on the critical humanitarian needs of victims and their families and the role of the newly established international body on the missing in Syria, which is mandated in part to address these needs.

On June 29, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution creating a new independent institution on the missing in the Syria Arab Republic. Eighty-three member states voted in favor, 11 voted against, and 62 abstained. ICTJ welcomes the resolution, which represents a momentary reprieve in Syria’s otherwise bleak justice landscape. This vote represents a critical step forward in supporting all those who seek answers about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones and who suffer daily from the indignities and grave hardships that ensue when a loved one goes missing.

ICTJ and the Bridges of Truth project are launching Tomorrow We Continue, a new short animated documentary that follows a young mother of two whose husband was detained and disappeared by security forces in Syria some years ago. The film takes the viewer on her journey as a refugee searching for safety in Berlin and depicts the daily struggles she encounters once settled as she tries to earn a living and care for her children while continuing to search for her husband. Since the uprising in Syria began in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been disappeared or arbitrarily detained. The families they leave behind may move to safer places as refugees, but the search for their loved ones persists wherever they go. This film is one of their stories.

This short animated documentary follows a young mother of two whose husband was detained and disappeared by security forces in Syria some years ago. The film takes the viewer on her journey as a refugee searching for safety in Berlin and depicts the daily struggles she encounters once s...

On September 15, ICTJ organized a side event on the missing and disappeared in Syria, sponsored by the governments of Luxembourg and Finland, during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was a timely one, as it addressed a recent proposal for the creation of a new...

As part of its ongoing efforts to support Syrian civil society organizations seeking to end enforced disappearances in Syria, ICTJ organized a visit to the United States for members of two prominent family associations: Families for Freedom and the Caesar Families Association. The trip, which was planned in coordination with longtime partner Dawlaty, comes at a time when Syrian civil society and victims’ groups have been intensifying their calls for an international mechanism to uncover the fate of those who have gone missing in Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011.

This study explores specialized units established in 23 countries to investigate and prosecute serious international crimes. Notwithstanding the challenges faced by these units, the study concludes that countries with a specialized institutional approach are considerably more successf...

several judges dressed in black gowns sit on a judicial bench.

New York, March 1, 2022 —“There can be no peace in Syria until the rights of the wrongfully detained, disappeared, and their families are fully restored,” warns a new publication released today by the Bridges of Truth, a collaborative of eight Syrian civil society organizations and ICTJ. A Guide to...

Enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention devastate victims and all those who love them. This guide takes an unsparing look at the harsh realities that Syrian victims of these crimes face and offers guidance on what they and others can do to help. It is the product of the Bridges...

A drawing of a woman holding a young child. In the background are numerous eyes of different colors watching them.

As the conflict in Syria nears an end, the human toll continues to rise, with millions of Syrians forcibly displaced, including millions who have been forced to flee the country. Children have experienced particular harms, including lasting trauma and disabilities, a lack of education, ...

On Thursday, January 13, 2022, the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, convicted Anwar Raslan, a senior official in the Syrian government, for crimes against humanity. The landmark trial, the first ever to prosecute a member of Bashar al-Assad’s regime for such crimes, highlights a crucial component without which Raslan would never have been convicted: the role of victims in achieving justice.

The start of 2022 was marked by two important victories in the fight for justice and redress for victims of human rights violations in Syria. The first was the sentencing of Anwar Raslan, a former colonel in the Syrian intelligence service, to life in prison by the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz...

In 2021, there were significant developments, some hopeful and some devastating, in the struggle for truth, accountability, and redress in countries around the world. ICTJ experts covered these events in commentaries and feature stories published on our website and in our newsletters. While 2022 is already underway and we at ICTJ are hard at work, we would like to pause a moment to take stock and reflect on the year that was.

This study explores a transitional justice approach to the dilemma of foreign fighters in violent conflict. Such an approach can help center human rights in comprehensive responses to foreign fighters, and shift the current focus from security and punishment to justice and long-term p...

Image of Children looking through holes in a tent at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, on April 2, 2019.
New York, December 10, 2021— In contexts such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of individuals have crossed national borders to engage in violent conflicts in which serious human rights violations and mass atrocities have been committed...

The millions of Syrians displaced by the grinding decade-long war have sought out safety far and wide, in safe havens within the country, in neighboring countries in the region, and further afield. Those who managed to reach Europe often did so against the odds and often after experiencing displacement more than once. Now , one of these countries, Denmark , is taking away from Syrians living in its borders the protection they so desperately sought and still need and, with it, the tiny bit of hope that they have worked so hard to preserve.

For many victims of human rights violations and international crimes around the world, the prospects of holding perpetrators to account, especially high-level individuals, have long seemed farfetched, given current political and legal hurdles and the limitations of international criminal justice mechanisms. For this reason, the multiple ongoing investigations into international crimes committed in Syria and court cases against suspected perpetrators based on the principle of universal jurisdiction across Europe have offered a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak justice landscape.

Invoking the principle of universal jurisdiction opens the door to the possibility of some accountability in circumstances where justice is not possible in countries where the crimes took place. This study considers the challenges facing the exercise of universal jurisdiction and asse...

New York, May 29, 2020 — Time is of the essence for breaking the deadlock over the release of detainees, abductees, and the forcibly disappeared in Syria, says a policy paper released today by ICTJ and the New York University’s Center on International Cooperation (CIC). Coordinated action by the Syrian regime and other parties to the conflict, as well as the international community, must begin now, particularly as the spread of the coronavirus accelerates in Syria. The consequences of delay and a failure to act — for the detainees and their families — are likely to be calamitous.

In most cases, to be imprisoned in Syria is to disappear. Tens of thousands of people, if not more, have been unlawfully taken prisoner or held incommunicado in the context of the Syrian conflict. This policy paper examines the dark reality of detentions in Syria, its impact on those ...

Sparing almost no corner of the world from its wrath, the COVID-19 pandemic has now spread to every country. In an effort to slow the contagion, governments in most countries have been taking drastic measures requiring all residents other than essential workers to confine themselves in their homes, and shutting down vast sectors of their economies. The impact has been crushing. COVID-19 has profoundly affected every country where ICTJ currently works: Armenia, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Uganda. We recently caught up with ICTJ’s heads of country programs to learn more about the impact the pandemic is having on transitional justice and society more broadly.

For the past few months, ICTJ, along with our partners at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, has been working on a comprehensive new policy paper on the situation of the many thousands of Syrians detained somewhere in the country’s vast network of prisons. The depravity that goes on inside these detention sites is already so appalling that it would have been hard to imagine when we started the project that the situation for the prisoners could get any worse. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, upending all of our preconceptions, and our lives, in ways none of us ever expected.

New York, December 4, 2019— "Get ready to speak up and be heard because your voice matters!”—that is the message a new guidebook released today on transitional justice sends to Syrian youth. Produced by ICTJ and Dawlaty, a Syrian human rights organization based in Beirut, the guidebook introduces the concepts of transitional justice to young audiences in an engaging and interactive way while capturing the challenges of applying them in difficult contexts.

This guide is designed to engage young people who are interested in or are working on transitional justice issues in their communities. Intended to serve primarily as a training tool, it provides basic information about transitional justice and related principles and offers tips and s...

The Syrian Constitutional Committee has finally been agreed upon. The 150-member committee — made up of representatives of the Syrian regime, the opposition, and civil society members — is tasked with writing a new constitution for Syria. In an ideal world, this new constitution could be the first step to bringing an end to the deadly conflict that has left the country, and the lives of countless Syrian people, in ruins.

“Vetoes and excuses get in the way of what is right and just.” With those words, Amina Khoulani, Cofounder of Families for Freedom, spelled out the failings of the United Nations Security Council, as she described in lurid detail the harsh realities facing families of the disappeared in Syria. Actors with the power to stop the killing of detainees and to free those still imprisoned are forsaking their responsibilities.

The trend of missing and disappeared persons due to conflict remains more prevalent than ever today. Many governments around the world have remained undeterred in their abuse of power to invade a home or community and remove persons deemed to be a threat. This intractable problem has received global attention largely due to the efforts of family members who often risk their lives in pursuit of the right to know and ‍‍to bury their loved ones.

In February 2019, ICTJ hosted an international symposium on gender and transitional justice in Tunisia that brought together representatives from eight countries where ICTJ has been actively engaged in implementing a gender-focused approach to its programming. This briefing paper pres...

This is the second of our Stories of Change series; in it, Tarek al-Massri, an 18-year-old from Homs now living in Germany, knows all too well the horrors of the Syrian conflict and its devastating impact on schools.

ICTJ’s Gender Symposium, held on February 2 to 4, 2019, in Tunis, Tunisia, brought together fearless women leaders working in 8 countries to advance the needs of victims and to bring gender issues to the center of transitional justice processes. What was achieved? What experiences cut across these diverse contexts? Kelli Muddell and Sibley Hawkins reflect on these questions and more in this short podcast.

We sat down with Roger Duthie, ICTJ’s senior research expert, to reflect on the findings from the new report, An Uncertain Homecoming: Views of Syrian Refugees in Jordan on Return, Justice, and Coexistence , and the prospects for Syrian refugees if and when the conflict ends.

This briefing paper presents findings from a study based on interviews with 121 Syrian refugees living in Jordan. It aims to provide a better understanding of the impact the conflict in Syria has had on refugees, including the harms and losses they have suffered; their expectations, c...

The new ICTJ report, An Uncertain Homecoming: Views of Syrian Refugees in Jordan on Return, Justice, and Coexistence , presents findings from a study based on interviews with 121 Syrian refugees living in Jordan. It documents the views, expectations, and priorities of these men, women, and children on the prospects of returning home and on future coexistence and justice in Syria.

This report presents findings from a study based on interviews with 121 Syrian refugees living in Jordan. It aims to provide a better understanding of the impact the conflict in Syria has had on refugees, including the harms and losses they have suffered; their expectations, concerns,...

Recent recognition of the work of Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad has drawn global attention to the issue of sexual violence and gender-based violence in conflict. But, as ICTJ Expert Kelli Muddell argues, the nuances of gender norms and how they impact women, men, and vulnerable populations are still often missing from conversations about victims.

From October 1 to October 5, 2018, ICTJ hosted its eleventh intensive course on transitional justice in collaboration with the International Peace Center for in Barcelona. Participants included leaders in their respective fields, including human rights law, community justice and legal services, peacebuilding, education, and humanitarian affairs.

Diala Brisly and Hani Abbas , two cartoonists and contemporaries, know firsthand the power of images to document conflict, and of cartoons —consumed by children and adults alike —to promote action.

This report examines attacks on schools in Syria from multiple angles: from the legal implications of such attacks to the everyday impact on students, teachers, families, and society at large. It is the product of Save Syrian Schools, a collaborative project led by 10 Syrian civil soc...

A new report on attacks on schools in Syria harnesses documentation to call attention to atrocities and advance storytelling, truth seeking, acknowledgment. It is the product of Save Syrian Schools, a collaborative project led by 10 Syrian civil society organizations and the ICTJ that demands an end to the killing of Syrian children and justice for the bombing of schools.