Syrian Lawyers Initiative
The Syrian Lawyers Initiative (SLI) is a capacity-building project which aims provide Syrian lawyers in Jordan with the skills to better contribute to the protection of Syrian refugee communities in Jordan and to serve as active players in the development of a future Syrian civil society.
ARDD-Legal Aid launched this UNHCR funded project in November 2013 in response to a group of 120 Syrian lawyers that came together hoping to use their capacities as lawyers to provide support to their refugee community in Jordan. Many of them had practiced for decades in Syria, but found themselves financially and legally restricted from offering legal help to their people in Jordan. SLI is training approximately 60 of these men and female lawyers with the goal of building their capacities to help protect Syrian refugees in Jordan and eventually help rebuild Syria.
SLI comprises a series of training workshops, held in four training phases so far. The first session focused on the importance of humanitarian principles in conflict environments, focusing especially on refugee protection and gender mainstreaming. The second covered legal ethics, public interest law and the Jordanian legal system, especially Jordanian labor laws and their impact on refugees. It also introduced psychosocial support, which was expanded in session 3 along with teaching family and marriage law, based on participants’ requests. The 4th highlights negotiation and problem solving, skills critical to any future involvement in civil society.
Upon completion of training, SLI participants surveyed their communities to identify Syrian refugees’ legal needs in Jordan, the results of which highlighted Syrian refugees’ main legal needs. A roundtable discussion was held in September 2014 with relevant stakeholders where these finding were presented in the report Improving the Delivery of Justice and Security in Post Conflict Settings: the Prospects of Legal Aid among Syrian Lawyers.
Strengthening Syrians’ network and capacity to build their own community is crucial not just to their wellbeing in Jordan, but also to rebuilding post-conflict Syria when the war eventually ends. Increasing the capacities of Syrian lawyers means investing in their social capital as legal professionals. Through the enhancement of these capacities as legal aid principles that address the rights of women, men, boys and girls, they will play an essential role in the construction of a future Syria.
The second phase of the Syrian Lawyers Initiative in partnership with UNHCR started on November 2014. This will continue to build on the outcomes of phase one this phase will focus on the professional development towards rebuilding a future Syrian civil society.