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Ahmad Al Zien, a legal scholar from Syria with refugee status, will join the Amsterdam Law School in mid-January to work on the project ‘Secondary Liability for International Crimes – Case Study of Syria’. His 18-month appointment is being funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Göran Sluiter applied for the grant.

Ahmad Al Zien worked as a lawyer in Syria and holds two Master’s degrees in International Business Law and Maritime Spatial Planning. He fled from Syria to the Netherlands a few years ago. Ahmad is well aware of the nature and background of the Syrian conflict, and aspires to further develop his academic career. His contribution to this project will result in an article in an academic journal, blogs and a round table discussion. 

Hestia grant

Göran Sluiter applied for the Hestia grant for Ahmad’s appointment. Through this programme, project leaders of NWO-funded research projects can request additional funding to hire a refugee to work on their project. To qualify, the refugee must have an academic background (Master’s or PhD) and be appointed for up to 18 months full-time or 24 months part-time. 

According to Sluiter, the Hestia grant is an important initiative, which strengthens existing NWO projects, provides opportunities for refugees and helps to increase diversity at Dutch faculties. 

Syrian conflict

The project is a practical case study that investigates how states and other parties, such as multinationals, have played a role in the large-scale atrocities that have occurred since the outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria in 2011. 

The first phase involves identifying the nature and extent of the support for the atrocities. The researchers will then study the legal liability mechanisms used, such as criminal and civil liability in the Syrian legal system, and forms of international liability (Syrian Tribunal). In the final phase, the researchers will critically examine the quality of the options for holding parties accountable. 

The project is part of the VICI project titled ‘Rethinking the Outer Limits of Secondary Liability for International Crimes and Serious Human Rights Violations. This project studiessecondary liability for serious human rights violations and international crimes. The aim is to adapt the law and practice of indirect liability to the requirements for protecting human rights.

About Hestia

The Hestia Impulse for Refugees in Science is a pilot programme organised by NWO. Academics who flee their home country due to threatening situations can continue their academic career in the Netherlands. The funding is available for full-time appointments of at least 18 months and part-time appointments of up to 24 months. The third and final round of the Hestia Impulse for Refugees in Science pilot programme will be launched in the spring of 2020.