Forced displacement and demographic engineering in Syria


Geneva Academy
Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

17:30 – 19:00

Video footage of the event.

High-level discussion on
Forced displacement and demographic engineering in Syria

In the context of the 2018 Geneva Peace Week, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), in partnership with the Geneva Academy , will hold an event to discuss forced displacement and demographic engineering in Syria.

Speakers will focus on:

  • The systematic patterns of forced displacement and legislative and policy frameworks demonstrating demographic engineering in Syria, with a view to assessing their compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law; and
  • The pitfalls and challenges in any upcoming reconstruction and return plan, with a view to suggesting recommendations to the international community, in light of past experience in other countries.

Opening remarks

  • Natacha Bracq, IBAHRI Programme Lawyer
  • Marco Sassòli, Director, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Speakers include

  • Emma Beals, Independent journalist and analyst
  • Toby Cadman, UK Barrister, Guernica 37
  • Ibrahim Olabi, Executive Director, Syrian Legal Development Programme
  • Marco Sassoli, Director, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
  • Amr Shannan, Syrian expert
  • Rhodri Williams, Senior Legal Expert, International Legal Assistance Consortium


  • Barbara McCallin, Senior expert on forced displacement, housing, land and property


The Syrian conflict has been characterised by the mass displacement of millions of civilians who have been forced to flee to areas where their security was not guaranteed and where they have been living in dire conditions, such as the Idlib Governorate, in breach of international humanitarian law. In addition to forced displacement, the Syrian government has also passed a series of laws and decrees preventing those displaced from returning home and retrieving their land and property.

This high-level discussion proposes to examine both the pattern of forcible displacement in Syria and the ongoing government policy related to housing, land and property rights. The discussion will also examine lessons learned in other countries, which experienced similar issues and discuss whether their experience can be used as a model for Syria.

For more information, please contact or visit Geneva Peace Week