Policy Brief: Violations of Housing, Land and Property Rights: An Obstacle to Peace in Syria
What can international policymakers do?
This policy brief (in Arabic and English) outlines the systematic undermining of Syrians’ housing, land and property (HLP) rights, mainly but not exclusively by the Assad regime, which since 2011 has enacted a raft of measures to consolidate its control by dispossessing groups or communities it considers a threat to its authority. Other groups with a long history of suffering discrimination in property rights – such as women, Palestinian refugees, and the Kurdish minority – stand to be disproportionately affected.
Grievances stemming from widespread disregard for Syrians’ HLP rights represent a serious obstacle to peace and justice in Syria and must be urgently addressed. Drawing lessons from post-conflict approaches to HLP rights in other contexts, the brief makes policy recommendations for the international community to help uphold Syrians’ HLP rights and avoid complicity in their violation. These include putting HLP rights at the centre of negotiations for a political settlement, and ensuring that property records are protected, violations investigated, and perpetrators held accountable.
Any policy or measure to address HLP abuses must be informed by the needs and demands of affected communities, and must support transformative solutions that address both historical and current HLP issues and end discrimination. This brief was developed by Impunity Watch and PAX on the basis of an expert meeting on the topic held in 2019 in which the co-signatories participated.