Syrian Lawyers Initiative Round Table Discussion

Kelly Kirk

Amman, Jordan- On September 3, 2014, ARDD-Legal Aid hosted a roundtable discussion at the University of Jordan in the Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II School of International Studies about our Syrian Lawyers Initiative (SLI). SLI is a capacity-building project that equips Syrian lawyers with the skills to contribute to the protection of Syrian refugees in Jordan, as well as strengthening their capacities to serve as active players in a future Syrian civil society.

ARDD-Legal Aid project officer Sharif Hassanein started the discussion with a brief overview of the Syrian crisis and the important role that Jordan holds in providing a safe place for Syrian refugees. Following Sharif’s introduction, ARDD-Legal Aid gender specialist Maria Logrono discussed how phase 2 of the Syrian Lawyers Initiative will have more of a focus on female empowerment and contain a pilot project titled “Narrowing the Gender Gap.” With a focus on strengthening female access to justice through the Syrian lawyers Initiative, women can work to build resilience and break out of isolation.

 SLI’s Project Officer Louise Julin then presented the research report “Improving the Delivery of Justice and Security in Post-Conflict Settings: The Prospects of Legal Aid among Syrian Lawyers." This report provides an analysis of the findings and results of the project and examines the prospect of legal aid among Syrian lawyers in Jordan.

After the presentation of the report, a short film was shown about the SLI project titled “60 Syrian Lawyers Speak Out.” This led into a discussion about the importance of long-term capacity building projects that work to contribute to Syrian’s lives now but also provide tools for their lives in the post conflict era. This point was further emphasized when SLI beneficiary, Syrian Lawyer Bashar Al Hariri, said that after phase 1 he and the other lawyers now have a better understanding of humanitarian law and know how to advocate to improve existing laws to better suit the people.

Participants at the roundtable agreed on increasing the voice of Syrians and to work to continue to emphasize that refugees have a face and are not just another statistic. Those in attendance agreed that to successfully address specific development needs and effectively build social capital, the dynamics of Syrian communities and their connection with their host communities must be understood.

All organizations and individuals present agreed that it is imperative that we work together to collect data and benefit from one another’s work to better serve the community as a whole.

We would like to thank all of those who participated in the Syrian Lawyers Initiative roundtable discussion: Embassy of Sweden, Itaf Al-Awawdeh, Hana El Gallal, Tom Garofalo, Danish Institute Against Torture, Oxfam GB, UNRWA, NRC, UNDP, US Department of State, UN women and we look forward to continuing collaborating with you in the future.  

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