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To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle require creative imagination and marks real advance in science – Albert Einstein 
It is often said that conflict is a major characteristic of human daily activities. It is an innate feature, one that cannot be avoided but can be mitigated to prevent violence and grave consequences. According to Rambotham et al (2011), conflict takes its origins from economic differentiation, social change, cultural formation, psychological development and political organization – all of which are inherently conflictual – and becomes overt through the formation of conflict parties, which come to have, or are perceived to have, mutually incompatible goals. Conflict can be constructive or destructive depending on how it is addressed. Constructive conflict can have valuable outcome on human society while destructive conflict can result to damages and loss. Fisher et al(2011) opined that conflict can be addressed through different approaches-given the different dimensions of conflict-which are sometimes linked; conflict prevention, conflict settlement, conflict management, conflict resolution and conflict management.

Conflict resolution, as stated above is one of the approaches to dealing with conflict and a comprehensive one. Wallenstein (2011) defined conflict resolution as a situation where the conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities, accept each other‘s continued existence as parties and cease all violent action against each other. This means, of course, that conflict resolution is something that necessarily comes after conflict. Fisher et al (2011) opined that conflict resolution addresses the causes of conflict and seeks to build new and lasting relationships between hostile groups. This means a conflict resolution process is often towards putting an end to armed struggle, it also means that conflicts are resolved and transformed to workable peace among the conflicting parties.

Saving generations from the scourge of war is the mantra upon which the United Nations (UN) operates, and as a result of this it is a central organization in peacekeeping and conflict resolution operations within the international system. Following the events of 9/11, it has committed itself to fighting against terrorism while taking steps towards reducing the stockpile and use of chemical weapons. This is based on its affirmation that the proliferation of chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security (S/Res/2118/2013). Given this submission, a violation of this act of international law would warrant great penalty on the state(s) involved, and such is the case of Syria.

In order to take a grasp of activities of states with large stockpile of weapons and use of such, the UN establishes a mission for each state to investigate presence and use of chemical weapons. An understanding of these weapons inspections missions can be drawn by referring to what Condoleezza Rice (former U.S national security advisor) said in an interview as regards Iraq in March 2002,

We need to be very clear on the purpose of weapons inspections. These are not inspections for inspections’ sake, they are instrumental to make sure that Iraq is not trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and so when we focus on weapons inspections in Iraq, we are to focus on weapons inspections that would be effective… ultimately, U.S believed that regime change is going to be best for the Iraq people and for the region. But clearly weapons inspections that are tough, weapons inspections that cannot be challenged, weapons inspections in which Saddam

Hussein is not trying to soften the edges of them would be a helpful step forward”. (PBS Newshour, March 11, 2002)

In this regard, the establishment of a UN mission in Syria was to identify the presence of chemical weapons as well as to verify with adequate information and resources the allegations of the use of such weapons against citizens.

The immediate trigger of the Syrian uprising was the power shift that occurred as a result of the

Arab Spring, the first of which occurred in Tunisia, then Egypt, weeks later Libya, Yemen and Syria had their own crisis (Chatham House, 2012). The Syrian demonstrators had strong motives for their discontent with the regime. After five decades of the rule of the Baath Party, the Syrians were fed up with the rampant corruption and nepotism, and the lack of civil and political liberties.  After a decade in power, Bashar al-Assad attempted to reform the regime, but the turnout was limited.  He introduced a set of economic liberal reforms that benefited the upper class, and mainly those who were close to the regime (Wakim, 2012). The Syrian civil war was caused by many factors, whether local, regional, or international, which interacted to destabilize the Syrian regime. This rebellion was caused by the need of the Syrian people for economic, civic, and political rights, and it happened at a time when the whole Arab region was subject to drastic changes. The conflict in Syria therefore gradually transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. During the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father‘s counterinsurgency approach, developed in response to the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the early 1980s. Counterinsurgency describes a government‘s campaign to restore order and ensure its own reach throughout the geographical confines of the state against armed opponents who aim at the government‘s overthrow. In this case, counterinsurgency describes the Assad regime‘s attempts to regain control over the whole of its territory, an objective it abandoned by the fall of 2012. By contrast, civil war implies that controlling the entire territory within the state is no longer feasible because armed opposition has become strong enough to stop government advances consistently (Holliday, 2013).

While the war was on, officials from other governments had expressed concern about Syria‘s chemical weapons security and the Syrian government had in early 2012 assured that ―chemical or biological weapons will never be used … in the Syrian crisis, no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are‖. That all varieties of these weapons are stored and secured by the Syrian armed forces and under its direct supervision, and will not be used unless Syria is subjected to external aggression.‖  But then, the events between March and August 2013 was a departure from the assurance given by the Syrian government, as within the space of these months, 16 cases of alleged use of chemical weapon in Syria were reported to the UN by member-states. The UN Secretary-General (Ban Ki-Moon) decided to establish the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic (―UN Mission‖). The purpose of this Mission was to ascertain the facts related to the allegations of use of chemical weapons, to gather relevant data, to undertake the necessary analyses for this purpose, and to deliver a report to the Secretary-General. Upon the completion of the assignment of the mission on 30th September, 2013, the derived conclusion was that chemical weapon had been used in Syria in all the incidents reported with the use of precursor like Sarin and rocket-induced chemicals. The conclusions rest on multiple types of samples, victim interviews, investigation of munitions remnants and lab analyses.

Subsequently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry greed on a Framework on the elimination of Syria‘s chemical warfare capacity, stating that production equipment should be destroyed by November 2013 and complete elimination of chemical weapon materials and equipment in the first half of 2014 (30th June, 2014) (The Newyorktimes,September,14,2013). Furthermore, Syria announced its accession to the Chemical Weapon Convention (CWC). Syria has been disarmed of it chemical weapon now but fighting is still on due to insurgent activities which are been suppressed by airstrikes. The process of disarmament of Syrian chemical weapons stockpile was not in itself a method of resolving the conflict but can rather be perceived as one step out of many other steps.



Despite the apparent successful decommissioning of Syria‘s chemical weapons, the country is still in conflict. Although decommissioning was not aimed at putting an end to the civil war but to limit the occasions of violence in the course of it, this is not to say that it does not affect resolution of the conflict. According to the UN, 191,369 persons have died between March 2011April 2014. The UN refugee Agency identified that about 2,563,434 Syrians have registered as refugees and 6.5 million displaced people with Syria, most of which are children. With this large humanitarian catastrophe and no feasible approach to combat the crisis yet, insurgent groups continue to thrive in Syria and other part of Middle East and the attendant incapability of international institutions have created another dimension on its own; an insecure world and an almost permanent War Zone. If this should continue, the next vulnerable place could be (some parts of)Africa, where authoritarian leaders still hold the reins of power. There is therefore need to understand the extent to which UN and other international institutions as well as states have been involved in the Syrian crisis both positively and negatively, and derive from critical analysis the effect of weapons inspections and possible impact on conflict resolution.


  • To examine the impact of United Nations in resolving Syrian crisis
  • To ascertain the effect of weapon inspections in the Syrian crisis
  • To identify the relationship between chemical weapons inspection and conflict resolution in one instance


  1. What was the impact the United Nations had on Syria crisis?
  2. What are the effects of chemical weapons inspections on resolving the Syrian crisis?
  3. Are weapons inspections important to conflict resolution?



Based on the large humanitarian catastrophe posed by the Syrian crisis and the perceived incapability of the international organizations to combat it, it is important to examine the effects of UN roles in the crisis as a universal organization responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, and to also identify the effect of the chemical weapon inspection on the crisis so as to create workable framework for future conflict resolution.



The project covers the impact of the United Nations in Syria, looking critically at the loopholes within the space of 2011-2014




Its limitation derives from the fact that there is a dearth of scholarly work on the crisis as it is still un-folding. Heavy reliance is thus placed on journals and media reports to help shed light on some of the old archives on the country



This project will be divided into five chapters. The first chapter contains the background to the study, statement of problem, objective of study, research questions, scope and limitation, and organization of study. The second chapter is the literature review, which is made up of the conceptual clarifications and theoretical frameworks. The research methodology is also espoused upon in the second chapter. Chapter three includes the examination of the impact of the United Nations Mission in Syria. Chapter four examines the disarmament approach used in Syria, focusing on the effect of weapons inspections on the crisis as well as an evaluation of the importance of weapons inspection to conflict resolution. Chapter five encompasses the summary, conclusion and recommendations



It is important to briefly examine some terms pertinent to the proposed project, and they include; conflict resolution, disarmament, and chemical weapons


Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is a comprehensive term, which implies that the deep- rooted sources of conflict are addressed and transformed. Thus, we can preliminarily define conflict resolution as a situation where the conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities, accept each other‘s continued existence as parties and cease all violent action against each other. This means, of course, that conflict resolution is something that necessarily comes after conflict. It means that we first need to have concepts and tools for the analysis of conflict. (Wallensteen, 2011)




Disarmament refers to giving up or reducing armed forces. Disarmament is a subject of national and international laws and policy. Disarmament is the collection, control and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives and light and heavy weapons of combatant and often also of the civilian population. Disarmament also includes the development of responsible arms management programs. It is also about preventing the outbreak of war because particular weapons technologies are considered to be destabilizing to international relations, many therefore view their elimination as a contribution to peace and security.

Chemical weapons

The general and traditional definition of chemical weapon is a toxic chemical contained in a delivery system, such as a bomb or shell. The Chemical Weapon Convention(CWC) defines chemical weapons much more generally. The term chemical weapon is applied to any toxic chemical or its precursors (any chemical reactant which takes part at any stage of production, of a toxic chemical) that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled are also considered weapons themselves. The toxic chemical that have been used as chemical weapons, or have been developed for use as chemical weapons, can be categorized as choking, blister, blood, or nerve agents.  The most well known agents are as follows; chlorine agents–chlorine and phosgene, blister agents (or vesicants) –mustard and lewisite, blood agents-hydrogen cyanide, nerve agents- sarin ,soman, VX. Choking agents like chlorine gas can cause severe skin and eye irritation. Arsenic or cyanide- based blood agents are often fast-acting and lethal. Nerve agents like sarin or VX disrupt the nervous system. The taboo against chemical weapons is more than a century old. The primary idea is that they are indiscriminate and an inherent threat to civilian populations.


Chatham House (2012), “The Political Outlook for Syria”, Chatham house, London, January 2012.

BBC News: Middle East, Sept.13,2013, “US and Russia agree chemical weapons deal”.

Jean Pascal Zanders and Ralf Trapp (2013), “Ridding Syria Of Chemical Weapons: Next Steps”, www.armscontrol.org/act/2013_11/ridding-syria-of-chemical-weapons-next-steps

Jamal Wakim (2012), Geopolitical Dimensions of the Syrian Crisis”, foreign policy journal. August 4th 2012

Mary Beth Nikitin et al,(2013) Syria’s chemical weapons: issues for congress”, Congressional research Service.

Nicole Ball and Luc Van De Goor (2006), “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration:- mapping issues, dilemmas and guiding principles”. Netherlands Institute of international relations.

Organization for prohibition of chemical weapons; “What is chemical weapon?- Brief description of chemical weapon”/www.opcw.org/aboutchemicalweaponswhatischemicalweapon/ Oliver Rambotham et al (2011), Contemporary conflict resolution‖, 3rd edition polity books

Peter Wallensten (2002), “Understanding conflict resolution: war, peace and the global system” Sage publications.

PBS Newshour, “Politics; interview with national security adviser to President George Bush,

Condoleezza Rice”, March 11, 2002. www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house-jan-june02-rice_311/


Sharon A. Squassoni (2003),Iraq: U.N inspections for weapons of mass destruction”, CRS report for Congress(updated October 7,2003),   

The New York times, “U.S and Russia reach deal to destroy Syria’s chemical arms”, September             14,             2013.mobile.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/world/middleeast/syria-talshtml?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The Washington Post (2013), “Everything you need to know about Syria’s chemical weapons.”  

The wall street journal (2014), “Syria accelerates chemical weapons disarmament”.March 4,

USlegal.com (2014),”definitions: disarmament‖, law and legal definitions

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