The Syrian diaspora became successful abroad on a number of levels but has always remained closely connected to Syrians inside Syria. This relationship is evolving as a result of the ongoing conflict. Besides mainly economic and cultural contributions to the homeland, there is now a pressing need for the diaspora to find ways to increase its involvement on the humanitarian, social, political, economic, and intellectual levels as Syria witnesses an erosion of its institutions and a rise in extremism that threaten national identity and state integrity. Mobilizing the Syrian diaspora to leverage positive change becomes more urgent when concerns about stability and security risk trumping human rights.
This requires different strategies and a higher level of co-ordination and co-operation among Syria’s divergent diasporic communities than what they had been engaged in before the current crisis.
ARI posits that the success of the Syrian diaspora endows it with skills, expertise, and resources that would allow it to play an important role in leveraging the Syrian crisis. This project, running from 2016 to 2018, seeks to bring together the experiences of major diasporas to bear on those of the Syrian diaspora and help build a unique Syrian experience. In addition to mapping the Syrian diaspora after 2011, comparisons with the Palestinian, Lebanese or Armenian diasporas that played a key role in their relation with the homeland can help the Syrian diaspora to positively contribute politically, economically, and culturally to the lives of Syrians within and outside Syria.
The project is divided into two parts. Part one is scientific and covers the experiences of the Syrian diaspora and comparative experiences from around the world. Part two will bring together key representatives from the Syria diaspora to establish a diasporic network of experts that can form the nucleus and the infrastructure of a support group for Syria. Bringing these two parts together will shed light on the contribution that the Syrian diaspora can make in the current crisis, leading to the production of recommendations for the policy community worldwide as well as for members of the Syrian diaspora in order to identify concrete ways of leveraging the diaspora’s expertise and resources to aid in alleviating the crisis.
The project’s main activity and outcomes will be presented on 12 and 13 April 2018:
- 12 April: Researchers will present their findings in a workshop organized in co-operation with the Chaire Histoire du Monde arabe at the Collège de France (Paris).
- 13 April: A high-level conference will be organized at the Institut du Monde Arabe with prominent Syrian diaspora figures, policy-makers and the international media. The conference will include an exhibition of photos on Syria and aims to launch an ethical charter that will constitute the basis for a call on the Syrian diaspora to contribute to rebuilding Syria on the principles of intellectual pluralism, freedom of belief and social justice.
Bassma Kodmani, ARI’s Executive Director, and Hana Jaber, Senior Fellow, lead the project, assisted by Nafissa El Souri and Said Haddadi. The project’s overall strategy is overseen by an advisory committee composed of Chamsy Sarkis, Antoine Duboscq and Sophie Guignier.