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Foreign PolicyTheories, Actors, Cases

Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases (3rd edn)

Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne
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date: 29 September 2023

p. 47624. The failure of diplomacy and protection in Syrialocked

p. 47624. The failure of diplomacy and protection in Syrialocked

  • Karin Aggestam
  •  and Tim Dunne


This chapter argues that the the international community’s response to the Syrian civil war was a failure of resolute diplomacy. It first recounts how a popular uprising was brutally supressed by the Bashar al-Assad government’s military forces, sparking a ‘new war’ where many of the protagonists have more to gain from war than peace. It then considers the diplomatic strategies pursued by regional and global powers, as well as the leading players in the intervention and mediation process such as United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, and Swedish-Italian diplomat Staffan de Mistura. It also discusses the use of crisis management and coercive diplomacy to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention. The case of Syria illustrates how responsibility to protect (R2P) requires a strong consensus among the great powers in order to be effective.

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