Peace and Justice in the Middle East: Balancing International and Local Solutions to the Crises in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine

Author:Nadia Shamsi
Position:Independent Scholar
Pages:315-368
SUMMARY

Countries in the Middle East have experienced continuous political, social, and economic turmoil in the last several decades. The populations of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine in particular have suffered severe human rights violations. In Syria, the focus has been on the major atrocities committed during the conflicts since March 2011, where civilians have been subject to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including unlawful detentions and torture, enforced disappearances, and attacks involving chemical weapons. In Lebanon, on the other hand, human rights issues stem from the conflicts between Syria and Israel since 1975, and mainly involve arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and targeted assassinations during its periods of political instability.... (see full summary)

 
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e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2014 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
pEaCE and justiCE in thE middlE
East
BalanCing intErnational and loCal solutions to thE
CrisEs in syria, lEBanon, and palEstinE
Nadia Shamsi
Independent Scholar
E-mail: Nshamsi@luc.edu
Countries in the Middle East have experienced continuous political, social, and
economic turmoil in the last several decades. e populations of Syria, Leba-
non, and Palestine in particular have suered severe human rights violations.
In Syria, the focus has been on the major atrocities committed during the con-
icts since March 2011, where civilians have been subject to war crimes and
crimes against humanity, including unlawful detentions and torture, enforced
disappearances, and attacks involving chemical weapons. In Lebanon, on the
other hand, human rights issues stem from the conicts between Syria and Israel
since 1975, and mainly involve arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances,
and targeted assassinations during its periods of political instability. Finally,
the situation in Palestine involves a combination of human rights abuses and
long-term displacement. Furthermore, the recent conicts in Gaza and the West
Bank have worsened the situation for the Palestinian people. Investigations have
revealed war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Hamas
militants and the Israeli Defense Forces. Nevertheless, several transitional justice
initiatives can help these countries move from systematic human rights viola-
tions to peace and reconciliation.
While these three nations have interconnecting issues, the local responses in
Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine vary greatly according to the magnitude of their
conicts. In order to remedy the human rights abuses in each territory, a per-
sonalized transitional justice approach must be taken to ensure that individual
issues are addressed. As the situation in Syria is ongoing, transitional justice
mechanisms should deal with both the country’s short-term and long-term
III Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law 315-68 (April 2016)
316
Shamsi
needs. Short-term emergency assistance should be coupled with measures that
focus on stabilizing and providing permanence for individuals who had to ee
their homes, in addition to medical, psychological, and social services measures
and other comprehensive support to victims.Vetting police, military, and judi-
cial ocers who were responsible for the atrocities must be the rst long-term
step towards reconciliation and ghting impunity, with the heavy support of the
international community in maintaining peace. is should eventually lead to
the establishment of a truth commission that would investigate such crimes and
recommend changes, and eventually focus a criminal tribunal’s eorts towards
prosecuting those accused of violating international human rights in Syria. In
Lebanon, on the other hand, eorts should provide a mixture of investigations,
prosecutorial initiatives, and reparations. In addition, there should be a focus
on establishing a national framework that works with the Special Tribunal for
Lebanon to investigate recent human rights abuses that did not fall within the
Court’s mandate. Particular attention should be paid to those domestic organi-
zations that failed the Lebanese population in the past; international oversight
can prevent mismanagement and restore faith in domestic organizations and
the Lebanese government. Finally, in Palestine, a mixture of interim programs
and long-term support is necessary to address the wide-ranging concerns that
Palestinian victims have, namely restitution and compensation for their dis-
placement. International intervention is necessary in Palestine’s case: speci-
cally, the creation of an inclusive international organization that addresses the
long-term needs of refugees that have been ignored for decades. is interna-
tional organization can ll the gaps le by both the UNCCP and the UNRWA’s
limited mandates. Additionally, international pressure is necessary to coerce Is-
rael to end its indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, as
well as deal with the ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza
and the West Bank.
Keywords: Human Rights, Dispute Resolution, International Criminal Law, Interna-
tional Humanitarian Law, State Building.
317
Peace and Justice in the Middle East: Balancing International and Local Solutions
Shamsi
I. INTRODUCTION
For territories in the Middle East, the majority of the twentieth centu-
ry has been marked with political upheaval, economic instability, and
social conict. e partition of Mandatory Palestine in 1947 and the
subsequent creation of Israel accompanied a period of long-term vio-
lence among several nations, most notably Syria, Lebanon, and Pales-
tine. e civilian population in each territory endured a wide variety of
human rights violations, ranging from arbitrary arrests and enforced
disappearances to torture and the disproportionate use of force by gov-
ernments. Millions of victims from these territories continue to suer
severe consequences from the mass atrocities that stem from decades
ago.
ough their conicts are interrelated, and the human rights
abuses that occurred are similar, the circumstances in Syria, Lebanon,
and Palestine are specic to their own territories. e situation in Syria
is particularly sensitive as egregious human rights violations continue
to occur. An estimated 9 million Syrians have ed their homes since
the outbreak of civil war in March 2011.1 Civilians have been subject
to arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and unlawful
killings. e Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the
Syrian Arab Republic noted that both government and non-government
forces were responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against
humanity in this region.2 On the other hand, the human rights violations
that occurred in Lebanon are tied to its past tensions between Syria
and Israel. Since 1975, Lebanon’s political instability has led to arbitrary
detentions, enforced disappearances, and assassinations by Israeli and
Syrian forces. Most recently, bomb attacks and targeted assassinations
of political leaders, activists, and journalists have been prevalent
1. S R: A S   C—I  M E 
E, http://syrianrefugees.eu.
2. See I I C  I   S
A R, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/IICISyria/Pages/
IndependentInternationalCommission.aspx. “e Independent International
Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was established on 22
August 2011 by the Human Rights Council through resolution S-17/1 adopted
at its 17th special session with a mandate to investigate all alleged violations of
international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic.

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