Roundtable discussion on “Vetting processes as part of a comprehensive approach to Transitional Justice in Syria”

29-30 September 2016, Gaziantep, Turkey

Vetting is an important and crucial step destined to take place during Syria’s transition. The integration of armed groups into the military and security forces and DDR mechanisms are currently on the agenda and plans of Syrians and other international actors. In addition, there is a growing conviction in Syria that offering combatants government-secured jobs could be an effective incentive to get individuals to give up their weapons.  As well as the security sector, vetting is also a crucial process for other areas of public employment. The screening of candidates for public office, the barring of candidates from public office, the removal of holders from public office, will be a difficult yet critical part of rebuilding Syria, which needs to be orchestrated with great care. A well thought out and collaboratively constructed plan of implementation will be a fundamental step to ensuring the process is conducted in a just manner and maintains the trust of the people.
In spite of the importance of developing a vetting process for Syria, there has been little or next to no effort invested in its preparation. An initial discussion among TJ actors on how to start the preparation for this component is badly needed.  In response, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) in collaboration with The Day After (TDA), and with the financial support of the Open Society Foundation, organised the “Roundtable on Vetting as part of a comprehensive approach to Transitional Justice in Syria”, which was held in Gaziantep, Turkey, on 29-30 September 2016.
The Roundtable discussion’s main objectives were to facilitate an initial discussion with several Syrian activists working in organisations that focus on transitional justice and to explore opportunities to establish a future initiative looking at the development of an examination and vetting process, as part of the larger transitional justice process.
The workshop brought together key members of civil society organisations (Free Syrian Lawyers Aggregation, Start Point, Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), The Day After (TDA), Syrian Network for Human Rights (SN4HR), Free Syrian Lawyers Association, Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability (SIJA), Higher Judicial Council), and a number of other Syrian activists who work in the transitional justice and human rights fields.
The meeting explored what work has been done so far in the Syrian context on the topic and allowed participants to learn from each other about any existing initiatives. Participants discussed how civil society and transitional justice actors can contribute in the future to this mechanism(s) and used the meeting as a planning session to kick start a larger initiative on vetting that can be developed and taken forward with key TJ actors and subject matter experts.

For further information, please contact Rami Nakhla (Syria Project Coordinator) on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32-2-548-3915.