Client Update: Syria


Client background

Since 2011, PILPG has provided legal and policy-planning support to the Syrian Opposition.  This support has included onsite and offsite technical assistance to the Syrian Opposition negotiation delegations during the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva since 2014 and to the Astana ceasefire negotiations since 2017. PILPG has advised members of the Syrian Opposition on issues related to ceasefires, transitional justice, governance, constitution drafting, elections, security, and humanitarian issues. In addition to direct negotiation support, PILPG has provided a broad range of Syrian civil society actors with support related to inclusive peacebuilding, mediation, transitional justice, and community reconciliation processes. Throughout its engagement with Syrian Opposition actors, PILPG has leveraged its two-decades of experience in conflict, transitional, and post-conflict states to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.


Geneva II Peace Talks

Geneva II Peace Talks

Astana Peace Talks January 2017

Astana Peace Talks January 2017

Geneva IV talks November 2017

Geneva IV talks November 2017



Throughout PILPG’s engagement in the Syrian peace process, PILPG has:


Provided pre-negotiation and on-site negotiation assistance to the Syrian Opposition, including:

  • Advised the Opposition during the UN-mediated Geneva II, III, and IV peace talks during both formal rounds of negotiations and informal consultations;

  • Provided on-site and off-site legal counsel to the Syrian Armed Opposition Group delegates during the Astana ceasefire negotiations;

  • Provided negotiation assistance to the Opposition  in responding to the outcomes of the Russian-led Sochi Conference;

  • Collaborated with several chief prosecutors of various international criminal tribunals at the Chautauqua Institution in New York in publishing the Chautauqua Blueprint, which proposed a statute for a Syrian extraordinary tribunal to prosecute atrocity crimes;

  • Conducted a training in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the Opposition negotiation delegation candidates in advance of the Geneva III negotiations;

  • Assisted the female members of the negotiation delegations on women’s empowerment in the context of peace processes to facilitate inclusive and representative peace mechanisms;

  • Provided the Opposition with over 200 legal memoranda;

  • Facilitated dialogue between the Opposition and Kosovars since February 2012;

  • Facilitated dialogue between the Opposition Leaders and Libyan civil society representatives in November 2011;

  • Facilitated both formal and informal ‘lessons learned’ dialogues with PILPG’s Yemeni, Syrian, and Libyan pro-bono clients;

  • Convened a roundtable in the Hague with Opposition representatives and the members of the International Criminal Law Bar;

  • Facilitated skills-based and substantive negotiation training for Opposition members in Copenhagen between February and June 2012;

  • Conducted a training for 20 Syrian women activists, resulting in the formation of the Syrian Women’s Network to maintain cooperation between women across Syria and promote women’s active participation in local and national processes;

  • Brought together Syrian civil society organizations and international experts for workshops in Istanbul and Gaziantep; and

  • Increased the capacity of 25 civil society actors of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds from Syria over the course of an 18-month program in Gaziantep between 2015 and 2016.



Partnered with:

  • The Syria Reparations Program in a needs assessment mission in Turkey and Jordan

  • The Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice;

  • The Transitional Justice Coordination Group in its documentation and evidence collection;

  • The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre;

  • The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue;

  • The Sheikh Group; and

  • Several chief prosecutors of the various international criminal tribunals.



Advised on a number of comprehensive topics, includinG:

  • Forming a cohesive opposition movement;

  • Confidence and capacity-building measures;

  • Negotiation skills and strategy;

  • Developing conflict mitigation skills;

  • The role of women in peacebuilding;

  • Designing a durable cessation of hostilities;

  • Access to humanitarian aid;

  • Security sector reform;

  • International best practice for the release of detainees;

  • Transitional and parallel governance;

  • Constitution-drafting and constitutional reform;

  • The maintenance of state institutions;

  • Electoral mechanisms;

  • Rule of law;

  • Transitional justice;

  • Reparations programs;

  • Mechanisms for civil society organizations to facilitate the provision of psychological, medical, legal, and documentation services to the Syrian victims of human rights violations;

  • Accountability and documentation efforts in Syria;

  • The education system;

  • Special considerations for the Kurdish, Alawi, and other communities in transitional Syria such as specific rights on language, land use, social issues, and economic opportunities;

  • Women’s rights and roles in participatory democracy; and

  • Advocacy in Syria for conflict mitigation strategies at the local, provincial, and national level.

PILPG Team in Turkey working with the Syrian Opposition

PILPG Team in Turkey working with the Syrian Opposition

Bayan Al-Fathi, former Special Assistant to Etilaf's Executive Director, speaking at PILPG about the future for women in Syria

Bayan Al-Fathi, former Special Assistant to Etilaf's Executive Director, speaking at PILPG about the future for women in Syria

PILPG and Syrian civil society training in Turkey, featuring a presentation on Kosovo's experience with civil society activism

PILPG and Syrian civil society training in Turkey, featuring a presentation on Kosovo's experience with civil society activism