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Crisis Diplomacy : The Case of Syria

by on March 31, 2013


Protests in Syria began mid- March 2011, requesting for the release of political prisoners and the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict escalated drastically as the Syrian security forces attacked protesters by opening gun fire, deploying tanks and naval ships against civilians. Assad refused to terminate the violence and implement eloquent reforms demanded by protesters such as broader political representation, less limited media and the lifting of emergency law.

One of the bodies fighting for the end of the crisis is the Security Council, which however disappointed many with its incompetence to form any sort of consensus and the release of a hypocritical presidential statement. It condemns the violence but supports the Council’s “strong commitment to the sovereignty…and territorial integrity of Syria”, while the UN High Commission has estimated the death toll of more than 5000 people in early December. Moreover, on the 10th January 2012, there were at least 400 deaths, according to UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Though the death toll continued to increase with the on-going violence in the months following, the UN stopped releasing estimates in January 2012 given the growing difficulty to verify casualties.

The League of Arab States, initially passive in regard to the Syrian genocide, issued a statement condemning the use of violence against protesters; however this was done without highlighting Syria and without proposing any specific measures to end the violence. Later on as the conflict continued the Secretary General of the League met with the Syrian president calling for a ‘serious dialogue’ and reaching an agreement for the implementation of reforms. However it took a significant period of time for the Arab League to secure Syria’s agreement and implement a peace plan, which included a promise to stop violence, release prisoners, allow for media access and remove military presence from civilian areas. Even then, according to Amnesty International, over 100 civilians were killed in the week immediately after Assad agreed to the plan, showing the League’s inability of preventing the massacre.

One of the most rapidly reacting to the crisis governments was the United States who signed an executive order on imposing sanctions on three Syrian officials responsible for human rights violations. The US also joined several European nations, including UK, France and Germany, in calling for Assad to step down. Some governments recalled their ambassadors to Syria, including Italy, Switzerland and France. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé accused the Syrian government of committing crimes against humanity against the Syrian population.

Massive human rights violations in Syria have been committed. Indication of systematic acts of brutality, including torture and arbitrary arrests, point to a clear policy by Syrian military and civilian leadership, are demonstrating crimes against humanity. In keeping with the norm of the Responsibility to Protect, UN Member States, regional organizations and governments must urgently work together towards an end to the violence. However, while there are number of evidences of all those actors conducting negotiations and implying measures aiming to end the crisis, the number of civilians being killed increases rapidly. There is not yet a diplomatic action effective enough to foresee when this nightmare is going to end.


ICRtoP, 2011, UN Security Council Fail to uphold its Responsibility to Protect in Syria,, [accessed on 31/03/13]

ICRtoP, Crisis in Syria,, [accessed on 31/03/13]


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  1. haytami1 permalink

    Very good article about Syria, as you mentioned there is a cold war sign in there and world watches from far angle no one concerned the human rights violations in there. International role seems negative while the Syrian civilians paying the price of secret war between west and east. U.S trying to distance itself from any role with Syrian dilemma, as Britain and France looking ways to end this tragedy.

    The average civilian death exceeds 100 people in daily basis more than 3 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. In my view there is no quick solution unless U.S and Russia agree some principles on Syria and make compromise for their own interest.

  2. almohamed100 permalink

    Crisis in Syria you rightly said that it began as peaceful protest which was part of Arab Sping demanding the removal of the regime but unfortunately Syrian case became quite different from the rest of the Arab world and it turned through the government manipulation like civil war and dragged long. you mentioned that the government of Assad had committed crimes against humanity or genocide, and the latest reports indicated that the regime used chemical and biological substances against civilians and so far the rest of the world is helplessly watching the plea of the Syrian population. well done Sara for for your good article.

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