This seminar series is dedicated to the unfolding conflict and human catastrophe in Syria. The Syrian conflict started in 2011 as a popular and pacific uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Asad. It mutated into an armed conflict between numerous opposition armed groups and the Asad regime. External actors have since started to intervene, either directly in support of the Damascus regime, or indirectly in support of some of the very diverse armed groups of the opposition. Since Russia stepped directly onto the military scene in 2015, the conflict has entered a new phase, characterised by the central role played by external powers in propping up the Asad regime, and the sidelining of all peace talks and other political processes. The Syrian population is bearing the brunt of this conflict. Estimates vary as to the number of civilian deaths directly linked to the conflict, but they could reach more than 300,000. Poverty affects four in five Syrians. This seminar series aims to shed light on different aspects of the Syrian conflict in order to provide a better understanding of it. It also discusses the consequences of the situation in Syria for the international community, for humanitarian organisations, but also for the legal infrastructures put in place since the Second World War with regard to international humanitarian laws, human rights, and refugee protection.
The seminar series is supported by the Maison Française d’Oxford.
Jennifer M Welsh is Professor and Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute and a Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College, University of Oxford. She was previously a Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford, and co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. In 2013, she was appointed by the UN Secretary General to serve as his Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.