Social Media and Conflict Mapping in Syria: Implications for Peacemaking, International Criminal Prosecutions and for TRC Processes

45 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2015 Last revised: 29 Jan 2017

See all articles by Paul J. Zwier

Paul J. Zwier

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: December 22, 2015


Early 2015 evidenced the first signs that Syria may soon be facing a transition from its present form of government into a new transitional government following the end of its civil war. Ideally, the transitional period will provide Syria with a secure and principled basis for governing until a full constitutional process can be employed and will also start the process of Syria’s taking steps forward toward healing and reconciliation between the parties. Toward the later end, the transitional period will require Syrian peacemakers to select among options for how to best deal with past atrocities committed by the parties in pursuit of their war aims. This Article reviews five of these options and argues that Syrians should adopt a mix of formal judicial proceedings for those it does not grant amnesty to in order to get a peace agreement, and an informal yet principled mediation process during a transitional period for disputes that arise from the actions of rebel group activities. These later disputes should be followed by a process with a hybrid court for those who do not gain adequate resolution of their disputes through the informal mediation process.

This Article also argues that the incorporation and strategic use of social media postings by Syrians into conflict mapping projects presents important possibilities for providing the proof needed for assessing an individual’s criminal responsibility and a way for Syria to make a meaningful trade between seeking justice for past criminal wrongdoing and providing reconciliation between parties at an informal local level. Even if no peace transition is actually constituted in Syria, this Article should be useful in providing an analysis of transitional options for similar countries in the Middle East in a process of transitioning from a dictatorship to a democratic form of government.

Keywords: Syria, Conflict Resolution, Social Media, Evidence

Suggested Citation

Zwier, Paul J., Social Media and Conflict Mapping in Syria: Implications for Peacemaking, International Criminal Prosecutions and for TRC Processes (December 22, 2015). Emory International Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 169, 2015, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-393, Available at SSRN:

Paul J. Zwier (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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