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War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

This article evaluates the civil war in Syria from a human rights perspective from March 2011 until this article went to press. I tried to evaluate the gross human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity that were committed by different groups in Syria, including the regime, the rebels, DAISH, and others.

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Syria
Special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, US actress Angelina Jolie attends a press conference in Mardin, Turkey, on June 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
 

Human Rights in Syria before the Civil War

There were a series of coups and interminable power struggles that went on for a decade in the Syrian Arab Republic, after it was re-established in 1961. This period ended with the victory of Hafez al-Assad, a member of the Baath Party’s military wing, in 1970. Although on paper, the Syrian state was considered a “republic,” all key governmental positions, including the Presidency, have been controlled by the members of the Assad family and the Alawites.1 The situation of human rights in Syria was dismal during the Hafez al-Assad period. Ironically, the Syrian government ratified many human rights conventions during Assad’s time in power. Syria’s government ratified the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (1969), the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” (1969), the “International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1969)” and the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” (2003).2 Syria also acceded to the Geneva Convention dated in 1949.

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