justice and accountability are a precondition to lasting peace
By: AFP/“Scanpix“ nuotr
As world leaders gather in New York at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Syrian civil society organisations in the ‘We Exist!’ coalition reiterate that the only long lasting solution for the conflict that has ravaged Syria rests on a meaningful political transition, guarantees for the respect of human rights and explicit measures for transitional justice. A recent World Bank report, calls for due attention to the root causes of the violence in Syria and refers to the need to invest in ‘social capital’ and “the trust that binds people together”. The We Exist! Coalition however emphasises that ‘social capital’ cannot be reduced to job creation programmes or other purely economic interventions. Instead, social justice and protection is central to the development and flourishing of any ‘social capital’.
“We are warning against hasty quick fixes that include returning refugees to the Syrian warzone without any guarantees for their safety, says Mazen Darwish from the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. As long as Syrians live in fear of both the state and non-state armed groups, then the violence will spiral – with repercussions beyond Syria’s borders. Guarantees for human rights, justice and accountability must be at the centre of the political process, not an optional addition extras.”
Several high-level events on the Syria crisis will take place in the coming week in New York, and French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will host a major summit on Syria within the coming months. Moreover, some policy-makers and media commentators already talk about ‘post-conflict reconstruction’ and the potential return of refugees to Syria. The We Exist! coalition reminds them all that an active violent conflict remains the reality in Syria and fears that political pressure in countries neighbouring Syria to fast-track the return of refugees should not result in compromising the human rights and safety of refugees. At the Brussels Conference on Syria in April this year, the EU High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini stated: “Only a political transition can make all Syrians feel home in their own country and be part of a joint effort to give a rebirth to the country.”  The We Exist! coalition calls on the EU and world leaders present at the UNGA this week to uphold this commitment and press for a political transition that can allow for stability, peace and then reconstruction in Syria.