1st Edition

The Conflict in Syria and the Failure of International Law to Protect People Globally
Mass Atrocities, Enforced Disappearances and Arbitrary Detentions

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 1, 2021
ISBN 9781032056647
November 1, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
216 Pages

USD $48.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book explores, through the lens of the conflict in Syria, why international law and the United Nations have failed to halt conflict and massive human rights violations in many places around the world.

The work presents a critical socio-legal analysis of the failures of international law and the United Nations to deal with mass atrocities and conflict. It argues that international law, in the way it is set up and the way it operates, falls short in dealing with these issues in many respects. The argument is that international law is state-centred rather than victim-friendly, is to some extent outdated, is vague and often difficult to understand, and therefore, at times, hard to apply. While various accountability processes have come to the fore recently, processes do not exist to assist individual victims while the conflict occurs, or the abuses are being perpetrated. The book focuses on the problems of international law and the UN, and, in the context of the many enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions in Syria, why nothing has been done to deal with a rogue state that has regularly violated international law. It examines why the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has not been applied, and why it ought to be used, generally and in Syria. It uses the Syrian context to evaluate the weaknesses of the system and why reform is needed. It examines the UN institutional mechanisms, the role they play and why a civilian protection system is needed. It examines what mechanism ought to be set up to deal with the possible one million people that have been disappeared and detained in Syria.

The book will be a valuable resource for students, academics and policy-makers working in the areas of Public International Law, International Human Rights Law, Political Science and Peace and Security Studies.

Table of Contents


1 Problems with International Law and International Processes

2 Syria as One of Many Rogue or Pariah States that Continually Violate the Rights of Their People

3 Enforced Disappearances and Arbitrary Detentions in Syria During the Conflict

4 What Has Been Done to Halt the Conflict in Syria

5 What Has Been Done and by Whom to Deal with the Violations, Disappearances, Detentions and the Missing in Syria?

6 Making the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) a Real and Actually Applied International Law Norm in Situations of Conflict and Mass Human Rights Violations as well as in Syria

7 Why Providing Victim Protection is Dependent on Reforming International Law and the United Nations

8 The Need for an International Victim-Orientated Process to Deal with Conflict-Related Detentions and Disappearances in Syria

9 Which Institution Should Create a New Mechanism to Search for the Disappeared and Detained in Syria?

10 The Design of a Mechanism Needed to Conduct a Search For People and Find Information for Their Families


View More



Jeremy Julian Sarkin teaches human rights, transitional justice and a research methodology course to doctoral students at NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal. He has a master’s in law degree from Harvard Law School and a doctorate in law. He served as an acting judge in South Africa. He served as Chairperson-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. He is admitted to practice as attorney in the USA and South Africa. He has published 18 books and more than 300 journal articles. He serves on a number of NGO and journal editorial boards.