Lieber Studies Volume 4

Imagining Justice for Syria

Edited by Beth Van Schaack

Monograph, 492 Pages
ISBN: 9780190055967
Published 17 September 2020 

Published by Oxford University Press


Disclaimer: Books in the Lieber Studies Series are not official publications of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense. The views expressed in these volumes represent the authors’ personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense, the United States Army, the United States Military Academy, or any other department or agency of the United States Government. The analysis presented stems from academic research of publicly available sources, not from protected operational information. 



This book situates the war in Syria within the actual and imagined system of international criminal justice. It explores the legal impediments and diplomatic challenges that have led to the fatal trinity affecting Syria: the massive commission of international crimes that are subject to detailed investigations and documentation but whose perpetrators have enjoyed virtually complete impunity. Given this tragic state of affairs, the book tracks a number of accountability solutions being explored within multilateral initiatives and by civil society actors, including innovations of institutional design; the renewed utility of a range of domestic jurisdictional principles (including the revival of universal jurisdiction in Europe); the emergence of creative investigative and documentation techniques, technologies, and organizations; and the rejection of state consent as a precondition for the exercise of jurisdiction.

Engaging both law and policy around international justice, the text offers a set of justice blueprints, within and without the International Criminal Court. It also considers the utility, propriety, and practicality of pursuing a transitional justice program without a genuine political transition. All told, the book attempts to capture results of the creative energy radiating from members of the international community intent on advancing the accountability norm in Syria even in the face of geopolitical blockages within the U.N. Security Council. In so doing, it presents the range of juridical measures-both criminal and civil – that would be available to the international community to respond to the crisis, if only the political will existed.


Table of Contents

Forward & Acknowledgements

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. A Short History of a Long Conflict: From Revolution to Atrocity
Chapter 3. The Security Council and International Crimes in Syria: A Study in Dysfunction
Chapter 4. Deconstructing the Would-Be ICC Referral: The Politics of International Justice in the Security Council
Chapter 5. Prospects for Justice before the International Criminal Court
Chapter 6. A Menu of Models for Accountability: Options for an Ad Hoc Tribunal for Syria
Chapter 7. National Courts Step Up: Syrian Cases Proceeding in Domestic Courts
Chapter 8. Civil Suits: The Utility of State Responsibility and the Law of Tort
Chapter 9. Innovations in International Criminal Law Documentation Methodologies and Institutions
Chapter 10. Transitional Justice Without Transition: The International Community’s Efforts in Syria
Chapter 11. Conclusion

Volume 4 Masthead