The Peace vs. Justice Debate and the Syrian Crisis

Click on cover to access article




Peace negotiators often face the difficult decision of whether to pursue peace at the potential cost of achieving justice, or to pursue justice at the potential cost of achieving near term peace. There are abiding ethical and moral debates surrounding this tension between peace and justice. In Syria—where the death toll has exceeded 470,000, 11 million have been displaced, and there are over 14,000 documented cases of torture to the point of death—the peace versus justice debate is a living dilemma with which negotiators are currently grappling. This article strives to examine a timely facet of this multidimensional puzzle: how to successfully accommodate the desire for justice by artfully weaving tenets of accountability into a peace process, without undermining a peace process.


For other articles by Dr. paul r. williams, click here



Dr. Paul R. Williams

Dr. Paul R. Williams holds the Rebecca I. Grazier Professorship in Law and International Relations at American University where he teaches in the School of International Service and at the Washington College of Law. Dr. Williams is also the co-founder of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a pro bono law firm providing legal assistance to states and governments involved in peace negotiations, post-conflict constitution drafting, and the prosecution of war criminals. As a world renowned peace negotiation lawyer, Dr. Williams has assisted over two dozen parties in major international peace negotiations and has advised numerous parties on the drafting and implementation of post-conflict constitutions. Several of Dr. Williams' pro bono government clients throughout the world joined together to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Williams has served as a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as an Attorney-Adviser for European and Canadian affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser. He received his J.D. from Stanford Law School and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Williams is a sought-after international law and policy expert. He is frequently interviewed by major print and broadcast media and regularly contributes op-eds to major newspapers. Dr. Williams has authored six books on various topics concerning international law, and has published over three dozen scholarly articles on topics of international law and policy. Dr. Williams is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and has served as a Counsellor on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

Lisa Dicker

Lisa Dicker’s legal and academic work focus on negotiation and conflict and dispute resolution, particularly as they relate to crisis, armed violence, and peace processes. She is currently on PILPG’s Syria Negotiations Support team, advising the Syrian opposition in the peace process and PILPG’s Tanzania team, working with the Tanzanian Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance on efforts to counter and prevent violent extremism. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, J.D. and the University of Tennessee, B.A..                                                   


Danae Paterson

Danae Paterson specializes in peace negotiations, international humanitarian law, and human rights. She is the Program Manager for PILPG’s Syria Negotiations Support team and works to advise the Syrian opposition in the peace process, providing on-site support in Istanbul, Doha, Washington, and Geneva. She is also Program Manager for PILPG’s work in Yemen to support the inclusion of women, youth, and persons with disability in the peace process, and Program Manager for PILPG’s work to incorporate victim participation in emerging hybrid war crimes tribunals. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, J.D., and holds an MSc in Comparative Politics and Nationalism from the London School of Economics.

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 3.31.49 PM.png




yugoslavia tribunal.jpg