‘Futures of Syria’ conference

Introduction

From 18-22 September, our “Futures of Syria” Conference took place. We thank the International Institute for Social Studies for opening their doors to us. We have been working on scenario building under the supervision of the Clingendael Institute. Through fruitful discussions, our participants managed to establish profound scenarios for the future of Syria at the end of the week, which they presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday. Based on these scenarios the delegates were able to set up action plans to get involved in the peace process in Syria.

Are you interested in the focus of the action plans the delegates came up with? Read the conclusion of the conference here: YPI Futures of Syria – Conference 2017!

Syria Conference

Since early 2011, widespread war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the war in Syria have displaced almost half of the Syrian population. The war is entering its 6th year and there seems little prospect of peace. None of the belligerents have the upper hand, although all have secured international backing, adding to the complexity of the conflict.

Meanwhile, young Syrian status holders in the Netherlands are rebuilding their lives and preparing for a future for themselves and their families. Where these futures lie, is closely intertwined with the developments in their home country. Yet, with the situation on the ground in Syria changing every day, the future of Syria and the possibility of return at some point are highly uncertain.

Since peace talks have not reached any agreement, a group of young Syrians have decided they will not wait for it to prepare for peace and be part of the process. It is time for the youth to take the baton, to unite and think about their country’s and their own futures. In support of this, a Youth Peace Initiative (YPI) for Syria has been set up to enable young Syrians in the Netherlands to put their heads together and have their voices heard.

Opening event for Syria delegation: a warm welcome

What a day it was! The YPI Syria Conference only takes place at the end of 2017 but the Youth Peace Initiative wanted to organise a first event on 24 April to warm up its young Syrian delegates. The day would be about getting to know each other as well as a short preview of things to come. That Monday nine out of the fifteen Syrians delegates came to the International Institute for Social Studies (ISS) to see their fellow enthusiasts. What followed was a day filled with smiles, heartfelt conversations, and a great start for the Conference to come.

After a brief introduction of the participants and organisers, a preview was given of the Conference later this year. At the centre of it stood the concept of scenario building, a tool that would allow delegates to anticipate different outcomes and plan their actions accordingly. With the stakes established, Unfold kicked off with a workshop for the delegates to get to know each other and break the ice. As teams got creative and worked together to build towers of spaghetti and marshmallows, it was safe to say that the ice was shattered. The energy continued to run through the group as they joined forces to get a fresh portion of pasta for lunch at a local bistro. The long table was soon filled with conversation as the participants filled themselves with enough food to last the day. The last group exercise of the day was a Spoken Word workshop. After a short introduction of the concept, delegates were given twenty minutes to dive deep into their memories and hearts to find something worth performing. Safe to say, everybody was blown away by the creativity, heartfelt and beautiful poetry that followed. Even for the members of YPI that had never been to Syria, the images created by these words brought feelings of nostalgia with them.

Looking back, both YPI and the delegates couldn’t wait to follow up on what was discussed that day. Contact details, ideas, and promises were exchanged as the day came to an end. Overall an amazing day that showcased all sides were enthusiastic to come together and discuss the future of Syria.

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