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Syria

Waging Peace

The Carter Center has engaged with senior Syrian officials since the 1990s. After the outbreak of civil war in 2011, the Center began working with a cross-section of Syrians across multiple divides to explore political solutions to the conflict, cultivate consensus around constitutional and governance reforms, and evaluate the impact of international sanctions.

Pursuing Peace in Syria

The Camp David Accords of 1978 – which brought peace between Egypt and Israel – were a major achievement of the Carter administration, and after leaving the White House, President Carter continued to care deeply about Middle East peace. The Carter Center has worked in Syria for years and has developed a reputation as a trusted, objective broker.

Shortly after the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the Center launched two initiatives focused on conflict analysis and dialogue among Syrians. These two complementary initiatives have grown and evolved in response to shifting conflict dynamics, appeals from Syrian stakeholders, and requests from the international community.

In April 2013, the Center established the Syria Transition Options Initiative. In consultation with Syrian government, opposition, and independent leaders – as well as civil society activists and international experts – the project aimed to generate ideas for a political and legal framework that could prepare the country for a transition to peace and serve as the foundation for future governance.

In 2016, the Center expanded its activities to address decentralization and local governance, as well as housing, land, and property rights. It also supports negotiations between the Kurdish self-administration leadership in the northeast and Damascus and Moscow.

In 2019, in an attempt to contribute to the policy debate on sanctions, the Center embarked on a search for a new framework for conflict transformation in Syria, focusing on leveraging sanction adjustments against positive measures by the Syrian government, creating space for inclusive reconstruction, economic recovery, and refugee return.

Also, since 2012 the Center has been mapping and analyzing the conflict, using technology and social media to provide the international community with up-to-date and detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of the dynamics of the conflict. Over the years, the Center has curated the richest data on the conflict and published over 150 reports. More recently, the Syria Conflict Mapping Project has been helping humanitarian demining institutions address the perils of high levels of unexploded ordinance around the country.

Learn more about the Center's Conflict Resolution Work in Syria »

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QUICK FACTS: SYRIA

Size: 185,180 square kilometers

Population: 19,398,448

Population below poverty line: 82.5%

Life expectancy: 73.7 years

Ethnic groups: Arab, Kurdish, Armenian, and others (including Druze, Ismaili, Imami, Nusairi, Assyrian, Turkoman, Armenian)

Religions: Muslim (official; includes Sunni and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia), Christian (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo) 

Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English

Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2020

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