Summary

Beginning in 2013, the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) has been working to support the rule of law in Syria. Part of that work involved conducting a rule of law assessment, published in 2017, to identify the features of the justice sectors in the different areas in Syria and the commonalities and distinctions between those systems. Given the changes on the ground since 2017, ILAC has now made an updated assessment to reflect the justice institutions and mechanisms currently in place throughout the country. This assessment focuses on the military and political developments in Syria which have unfolded since ILAC’s earlier assessment, and the impact those changes have had on the justice systems in various regions in the country.

In preparing this updated assessment in Syria, ILAC faced the twin challenges of an ongoing conflict and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which made in-person field interviews impossible. To meet these challenges, the ILAC team worked with local partners in each of the four relevant geographic regions in Syria. Each local partner was familiar with and knowledgeable about their assigned region. The practical limitations imposed on the assessment team, especially by the pandemic, were frustrating for both ILAC and many of those eager to discuss the issues facing their home locale and country. Nonetheless, with the outstanding assistance of our Syrian partners and the cooperation of the legal professionals they interviewed, this report provides significant insights into the nature of the various justice systems currently functioning in tumultuous Syria. 

The report will also be available in Arabic.