Accountability in Syria explores crimes against humanity committed during the Syria civil war and examines the ways Syrians might seek justice. These include recourse through the international system and a proposed new "hybrid court system." The volume contains important testimony that deserves to be read, with contributions from senior Syrian opponents to the Assad regime as well as international journalists and researchers, providing a comparative perspective. Subjects covered include the bogus efforts by the Syrian regime to present the surrender of rebel-controlled areas and the return of regime authority as "reconciliation" and "local ceasefires"; a comparison between the siege of Sarajevo and the Assad regime's besieging of Daraya; plus details of the regime's demographic engineering.
Editor Ziadeh is a well-known and respected Syrian oppositionist and U.S. resident. He argues in his chapter on "Transition, Justice and Accountability" for the establishment of a "hybrid international court" to examine human rights violations in Syria. The term refers to a model previously applied in post-conflict Cambodia and Sierra Leone. Tribunals would be "held on Syrian territory, and will involve the direct participation of Syrian judges, supported by international expertise, perhaps under the supervision of the United Nations."
The problem with such laudable hopes, as Ziadeh notes, is that both the Syrian regime—and Russia through the U.N. Security Council—would dismiss any move to establish such courts. Indeed, the stark fact brought home by the essays in this valuable book is, as one of the contributors notes, that the world has largely stood by "while Syrians suffered unimaginable atrocities," a reminder of the weakness of international law and institutions in the absence of powerful states wishing to enforce their edicts.