San Francisco litigation associate Betsy Popken had the exciting and impactful opportunity to perform innovative pro bono work that was a follow-through to the work she did during her fellowship year with our pro bono partner, the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), which is a nonprofit organization operating as a global pro bono law firm to provide free legal assistance to developing states and sub-state entities involved in conflicts.
Betsy traveled to Copenhagen in late February for the Syrian opposition transitional planning workshops hosted by the Foreign Ministry of Denmark. The workshops consisted of roundtable discussions between up to 20 Syrian opposition members (including members of the SNC, Antalya Group, Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Kurdish organizations, and independents) and experts (including from PILPG, the United States Institute for Peace, the National Endowment for Democracy and two integral persons from the Kosovar and Iraqi transition periods).
Discussions were focused on four key areas: (1) Immediate Security Measures, DDR and Security Sector Reform; (2) Rule of Law and Judicial Sector Reform; (3) Structure & Responsibilities of the Transitional Body; and (4) Interim Constitution & Elections. Betsy led and directed the discussion on the rule of law and judicial sector reform. This was the first major effort by the Syrian opposition to raise ideas and chart a plan for post-Assad Syria, and a very successful one at that. In addition, much strategizing took place "off the record" on possibilities for achieving a post-Assad Syria.
Betsy will be drafting a report on the workshops, with potential recommendations for the post-Assad transition period. In addition, she and PILPG will be working with the Syrian opposition on a number of additional workshops, including one on transitional justice in The Hague, set for April 3–4.