A key challenge in Syria today is to protect and uphold people’s Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights. 

Without functioning systems to recognize and protect the full continuum of HLP rights, displacement may become indefinite and permanent loss of family assets will make it close to impossible for displaced Syrians to return to their homes, businesses and land. Vulnerable groups such as those who have been forced to leave their homes in informal settlements, or those who cannot prove ownership of properties due to lack of sufficient documentation to name a few, must be given special attention so they are able to seek legal remedies for their HLP problems. Women in Syria are at particular risk due to a history of structural discrimination which preceded the conflict, undermining for instance their ability to have effective control over economic assets. 

Even before the conflict, Syria had a complex property and land administration system which faced challenges to effectively protect people’s HLP rights, particularly within a context of high population growth and rapid urbanisation. These issues were already rooted in legal pluralism and widespread informality, leading to a number of challenges for justice actors to identify durable solutions for the future in Syria. 

The International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) is pleased to present the following discussion paper “Resolving the Property Issue in Syria: Technically Possible, Politically Challenging and Central to Accountability which proposes recommendations to address some of these issues building on lessons learnt from other contexts. It offers insights on how international standards and practices can guide efforts to restore HLP rights in Syria. The paper is a result of a series of roundtables organized by ILAC in partnership with two of its member organisations, the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI) Institute and International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) since 2017 and which brought together Syrian legal professionals and international experts, to discuss some of the most pertinent HLP problems in Syria today.

Building on the outcomes of these roundtables, ILAC continues to provide support to practicing Syrian lawyers to enhance their capacity to assist Syrians to protect and uphold their HLP rights.