It is necessary to consider what role NGOs might now play in Syria– particularly to support the mediation efforts of former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan – in order to break what seems to be a continual downward spiral, with real dangers of civil war.
By Rene Wadlow
Mid-March 2011 in Syria, nonviolent protests and demands for limited reforms began and then were increasingly met by government violence. Discussions on what the United Nations could do to help the Syrian people and to speed up necessary reforms started quickly in both New York and Geneva. The appointment of the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, as a joint UN-League of Arab States moderator at the end of February 2012 is the most recent efforts as we mark this one-year anniversary.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been concerned, some acting directly – such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – others as members of the Observer Mission of the League of Arab States. Other NGOs, both Syrian, such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and international have provided information and have proposed mediation.
It is worth while to analyse these efforts, to outline some of the strengths and weaknesses and to consider what role NGOs might play now to break what seems to be a continual downward spiral with real dangers of civil war, as fighting with heavy weapons continues and flows of arms from outside Syria to the opposition seems to be growing.