Syria: NPWJ organises a workshop on “Promoting accountability through UN mechanisms with a focus on women and children”

Istanbul, 20-23 February 2016

The conflict in Syria continues to claim staggering numbers of lives, with attacks against civilians having further intensified in recent weeks. Despite the creation of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in the autumn of 2015 and the on-going efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, the range of violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity, is widening and the number of parties involved in the conflict allegedly involved in this violation of international norms continues to grow.
Against this backdrop, it is crucial to bolster the resilience of Syrian civil society and democratic activists and to support their ongoing work for justice and redress. These organisations have done incredible work in documenting and advocating against widespread breaches of international law committed for the last five years in Syria, including torture, sexual and gender-based violence and illegal war tactics such as siege, starvation, barrel bombs and indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighborhoods.
Any future Syrian system of accountability and transitional justice should respond, in a fair, effective and independent manner, to this scale of violence and to the needs and aspirations of the population affected by it. Critically, it should also be considered as an essential component of a transition process leading towards the establishment of democracy and the rule of law in Syria.

To this end, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) organised a workshop on “Promoting Accountability through UN mechanisms with a focus on Women and Children”, which took place in Istanbul from 20 to 23 February 2016. Participants included a key group of Syrian CSOs representatives and human rights activists and international experts on the UN human rights mechanisms and accountability processes.
The four-day workshop was designed to help equip Syrian participants with the technical capacity to engage more effectively the international community, and in particular the UN system, with a view to prioritise justice and accountability as an integral part of any strategic planning for the political solution of the Syrian conflict. Throughout its program sessions, it covered various aspects of the international system for the protection of human rights, focusing on the possibility for concrete advocacy that every facet of the UN system can provide, both with UN agencies and mechanisms (including the Human Rights Council (HRC), the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the UN Special Procedures and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the latter in cooperation with the Open Society Justice Initiative) and its member States. A special focus was dedicated to the rights of women and children and their inclusion and participation in processes that can promote accountability, especially for crimes committed against them.
This workshop was supported by the European Commission, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Open Society Foundations.
NPWJ has supported the Syrian civil society since the inception of the Syrian crisis and, since October 2013, has established an office in Gaziantep, Turkey, from where it conducts its Syria-related activities by empowering and increasing the capacity of Syrian CSOs and democratic activists to act and advocate for transitional justice and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

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For further information, please contact Gianluca Eramo (MENA Democracy program Coordinator) on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32-2-548-3915.