HRW and SLDP Guide On Human Rights-Compliant Procurement Processes In Syria
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HRW and SLDP Guide On Human Rights-Compliant Procurement Processes In Syria

1.Why is it important to ensure strong human rights due diligence in procurement processes in Syria? 2.
HRW and SLDP Guide On Human Rights-Compliant Procurement Processes In Syria

. What are key challenges to implementing human rights due diligence in procurement processes in Syria? 3. What are the legal and policy frameworks underlying human rights-compliant UN procurement processes? 4. Which human rights considerations should be considered in procurement processes, and how can these be translated into criteria? 5. How can UN agencies assess the extent to which they may be involved in human rights abuses through their procurement processes? 6. Where can UN agencies include human rights considerations in their existing procurement processes? Click here for a downloadable version of the Guide on Human Rights-Compliant Procurement Processes in Syria. Over a decade of conflict has decimated Syria’s infrastructure, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions more.

The enduring conflict has also had a detrimental impact on the economy, with the UN estimating economic losses at $442 billion dollars.[1] These catastrophic costs translate into a massive loss of livelihoods, with around 11.7 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance.[2] The assistance is primarily provided by UN agencies, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), and international non-governmental humanitarian organizations. Parties to the Syrian conflict, especially the Syrian government, have committed egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law — from arbitrary detention and torture,[3] to property confiscation,[4] indiscriminate strikes,[5] and the use of prohibited weapons.[6] Given the scale and severity of human rights violations in Syria, humanitarian agencies should proactively avoid contributing to or facilitating such abuses, abide by the humanitarian principle of do-no-harm and their existing commitments to human rights, as well as mitigate the reputational risks associated with facilitating human rights abuses. Humanitarian organizations primarily operate on the basis of permissions provided by the Syrian government, and in cooperation with its approved partners. This has become increasingly true as more and more areas have come under the control of the Syrian government, along with the gutting[7] of the UN Security Council-backed cross-border aid mechanism, which was the only way that UN agencies could guarantee delivering humanitarian assistance to areas not held by the Syrian government without the government’s permissions. Given the Syrian government’s record of egregious human rights abuses, UN agencies risk contributing to or facilitating[8] human rights abuses, including through procurement. As such, it is imperative that UN agencies improve their human rights due diligence capacities.

The UN itself acknowledged the importance of human rights due diligence in circumstances where there is a real risk that a recipient of UN support is involved in grave violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as exemplified by the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on UN Support to non-UN Security Forces.[9] The guidance below seeks to provide recommendations that can assist UN agencies in refining their procurement processes. Despite requirements under international law and the UN’s internal guidelines to ensure UN procurement is consistent with human rights, in the case of the UN agencies’ procurement processes in Syria that we have examined did not appear to include robust human rights due diligence assessments.[10] Instead, they often use the existing UN sanctions list as a stand-in. Sanctions are an inadequate replacement for human rights due diligence in Syria, as al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and ISIS are the only sanctioned groups on UN lists due to the politicized requirement of UN Security Council approval.[11] This means that other perpetrators, including the Syrian government and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army, which have engaged in war crimes and serious human rights abuses, are not reflected in the UN sanctions system. This results in a significant gap in the agencies’ ability to identify and mitigate human rights risks associated with their procurement practices. Further, many of the pre-war commercial networks are defunct, and Syria is largely characterized as a war economy.

The business networks that survived in government-held Syria are closely tied to the Syrian government,[12] which heightens the likelihood that they are involved in abuses.

The conflict reinforced the ties between the Syrian government and the “integrated elite,”[13] composed of business actors with social and family links to the government, which had already been the main beneficiaries of the policies that enabled private-sector involvement in key areas of the Syrian economy in the early 2000s.[14] Unlike other segments of the Syrian economy,[15] the “integrated elite” did not leave the country and started playing an increasingly political role first by funding the government’s orchestrated mass rallies and promoting government propaganda through their private media companies and later by funding pro-government paramilitary groups.[16] The conflict also resulted in the emergence of a “conflict elite,”[17] composed of previously little-known businesspersons and leaders of paramilitary groups that, by becoming involved in the war economy, accumulated considerable wealth and are now integrating into the formal economy.[18] As a result of the loyalty demonstrated and the continued support provided by both networks, the Syrian government granted them preferential access to industries and sectors that were abandoned when competitors left Syria.[19] The economic actors that emerged during the conflict were also rewarded through their integration in the political system as demonstrated by the changes in the composition of local councils,[20] boards of chambers of commerce and of industry,[21] and in the Syrian parliament since 2014.[22] Furthermore, the government gave both the “integrated” and the “conflict elite” preferential access to the business opportunities arising from the implementation of the new urban planning policies and legislation,[23] which include the disproportionate destruction of civilian properties,[24] the intentional destruction of property records,[25] and the passing of legislation which has the effect of expropriating residents of their property.[26] Finally, the most developed regimes around human rights compliance in procurement and supply chains focus on child labor, labor and sexual exploitation-related abuses, environmental abuses, and hiring of private security forces. In the context of Syria, the range of human rights abuses that a vendor may be involved in are much wider, and may include contributing to or facilitating torture, abuse in detention, unlawful confiscation of property, and discriminatory distribution of aid, among others. Without conducting human rights due diligence specific to the Syrian context, UN agencies may find themselves financing entities that are owned or run by actors who have or are committing human rights abuses to provide supplies or services to their operations.

The UN may also provide funding that enables these actors to conduct abuses in other contexts outside that of the UN-funded projects. The UN’s recent creation of a Regional Dialogue Mechanism (RDM) may have the potential to improve human rights due diligence and transparency regarding risk assessments related to Syria procurement processes.

The RDM offers a forum for UN agencies, the UNCT and representatives of donor countries to discuss human rights-related risks of major procurement processes being undertaken in Syria under UN auspices. However, for the RDM to be truly effective, it is essential that UN agencies and donors actively and transparently make use of the RDM to flag human rights risks, and they should consult nongovernmental human rights organizations as needed. Click here for a downloadable version of the Guide on Human Rights-Compliant Procurement Processes in Syria. The humanitarian response in Syria is beset with challenges, including: restrictions on access imposed by the Syrian government that limit agencies’ ability to conduct site visits of their projects, areas that they serve or other areas in Syria; requirements that agencies implement programming through local partners closely tied to the Syrian government; and restrictions on human rights monitoring and protection programming. Human Rights Watch has previously recommended that UN agencies work collectively[27] to challenge these restrictions, including by prioritizing negotiation for most underserved areas and reporting transparently about implementation challenges. Since then, the UN has sought to improve access by creating sub-national office hubs to reduce the number of required authorizations to undertake monitoring missions and field assessments. According to OCHA, this has lead to increased access though administrative and security obstacles remain and access is still piecemeal, particularly in some formerly-held opposition areas. Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Legal Development Programme acknowledge the difficulties faced by UN agencies in procurement. According to the UNCT, 60% of procurement in Syria occurs internationally, and the UN has been able to identify ways to address the unintended effects of unilateral measures on procurement.

The re-negotiation of the cross-border resolution to limit cross-border operations into Syria is another aspect that makes external procurement more difficult.

The Syrian government has also put in place restrictions on importing supplies, which amount to around 50% of the total import values for Syria.

The restrictions are likely to make it difficult for humanitarian agencies to procure things sustainably, especially given the loss in purchasing power due to the demarcation of the Syrian currency. As such, any procurement process would have to balance a proactive understanding and mitigation of human rights risks while still allowing UN agencies’ ability to meet humanitarian needs. However, as the indicators in Annex show, there are some sectors where the risk of contributing to ongoing abuses is so high that we recommend that vendors and UN agencies do not conduct any business in relation to those particular sectors.

The guidance below seeks to provide recommendations that can assist UN agencies in refining their procurement processes. Overarching principles The UN is bound under international law by an obligation to respect human rights, and statements by former Secretary Generals continue to emphasize this duty: Support by United Nations entities [...] must be consistent with the Organization’s purposes and principles as set out in the Charter of the United Nations and with its obligations under international law to respect, promote and encourage respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. Consistent with these obligations, United Nations support cannot be provided where there are substantial grounds for believing there is a real risk of the receiving entities committing grave violations of international humanitarian, human rights or refugee law and where the relevant authorities fail to take the necessary corrective or mitigating measures. [28] (Emphasis added) The UN’s commitment to human rights was recently reaffirmed by the UN Secretary General in the Call to Action launched on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN.[29] One of the overarching guiding principles set out in the Call to Action is: Within the United Nations, human rights must be fully considered in all decision-making, operations and institutional commitments.[30] Further, the Call to Action includes a commitment by UN mission and non-mission settings to: [...] ensure that mandate implementation and/or engagement by Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams [in UN mission and non-mission settings] are informed by a human rights risk and opportunity analysis, including gender specific analysis. In missions that do not have a human rights component, ensure that the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General are provided with the necessary capacity and expertise on human rights. Expand, as necessary, the presence of Human Rights Advisers to UN Country Teams.[31] The most recent strategic plans of some of the UN agencies with the largest humanitarian portfolios in Syria stipulate the agencies’ commitment to respect and promote human rights and clearly place human rights principles and standards at the core of their activities.[32] Procurement-specific policies There are three UN policy guidelines that govern human-rights compliant procurement practices: the UN Procurement Practitioner’s Handbook, the UN Supplier Code of Conduct, and the UN Parameters and Principles for Assistance in Syria.

The latter also incorporates and applies the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into the Syrian context.

The latter includes the concept of “maintaining the highest image, reputation and interest of the organization through[out] [...] the procurement process [...].”[35] It also includes an expectation that UN Procurement officers “be constantly aware of how their actions appear to outside observers, and they should always behave in such a way that their actions cannot be perceived as improper. Behaving correctly in a ‘technical’ sense is not enough; it is also necessary to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”[36] According to the Handbook, the “UN is committed to conducting business with only those suppliers sharing its values of respect for fundamental human rights, social justice, human dignity, and respect for the equal rights of men and women.”[37] UN entities are expected to “promote ethical conduct in the supply chain”[38] and to “adhere to the principles of the UN Global Compact derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”[39] The UN shall consider carefully human rights and protection implications, especially with regard to where and how assistance is provided. UN assistance must not assist parties who have allegedly committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.

They also indicate: Rigorous standards of due diligence should apply, drawing from the principles of the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

The UN shall apply the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in all areas of its work in Syria, including in its post-agreement planning.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011,[44] are the most authoritative set of international standards regulating businesses’ responsibility to respect human rights. In line with the requirements of the UNGPs, the UN should respect human rights throughout its business operations in Syria.[45] This includes a responsibility to undertake human rights due diligence in order to identify and address actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.[46] Human rights due diligence should cover the adverse human rights impacts the UN may cause or contribute through its own business activities as well as the impacts which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships, including its suppliers.[47] With regard to their implementation, the UN Principles and Parameters designate that: A multi-disciplinary working group under the auspices of the UN Syria Inter-Agency Task Force will monitor adherence to the principles and parameters agreed by the UN system in this strategy, including political, legal, and human rights as well as humanitarian and development dimensions, and will report on this to the Secretary-General.[48] To avoid making the human rights due diligence process prohibitively costly or resource-intensive, Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Legal Development Programme identified some of the most egregious human rights violations that have been committed during the conflict, and for which there is ample documentation.

These are not comprehensive, and procurement officers are encouraged to assess and develop their own scale based on realities where they operate. Within each category, we clarify what prospective connections to procurement may look like. For a more detailed breakdown of the human rights abuses vendors may be involved in, please refer to Annex. Businesses have human rights responsibilities that extend throughout their business relationships, as articulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were unanimously adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011.

They are expected to conduct due diligence to identify human rights risks to which they are linked through their activities, including those carried out by a third party, whether state authorities or other businesses, and take steps to mitigate or avoid contributing to abuses and address them when they occur. When businesses are directly linked to abuses through their business relationships, they are expected to use their leverage to prevent or mitigate such abuses, “even if they have not contributed to those impacts.”[61] Businesses, therefore, may become complicit in abuses if, for example, they have requested or benefited from the abusive action or have provided financial or logistical support to the abusive entity.

They can also be involved in abuses by providing information about the whereabouts of people who were subsequently subject to gross human rights abuses, or by providing the surveillance equipment for the government to identify or apprehend people.[62] By making UN financial resources available to a business involved/at risk of involvement, in human rights abuses, UN agencies risk becoming themselves implicated in the abuses.

The extent of UN agencies involvement in human rights abuses through procurement processes depends on several factors, including: The extent of the involvement determines the action UN agencies are expected to take to address the risk. For instance, if a supplier is at a sufficiently high risk of involvement in ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, UN agencies should not get involved or do business with such an actor even where no alternative is available. If, on the other hand, a supplier is determined to have been involved in past human rights abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law, the decision of whether or not to award a contract to the supplier will depend on an assessment of the likelihood of future involvement in abuses and on the risk of reputational damage deriving from contracting a human rights abuser.

These assessments should depend on objective indicators.

The assessment tool in Annex of this guide aims to assist UN agencies in addressing human rights risks in their supply chain by providing examples of these risks within the Syrian context. More specifically, it aims to facilitate the identification of Syrian suppliers potentially involved in conflict-related human rights abuses. Unless otherwise stated, the tool adopts the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ definition of involvement articulated through the categories of causation, contribution, and direct link.

The tool focuses on conflict-related human rights abuses, defined as human rights abuses taking place in the context of and associated with the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian context presents specific features that influence the type of assessment required to identify and address human rights risks in the supply chain. With few exceptions, the conflict-related human rights abuses in which Syrian companies are involved do not occur as part of the companies’ business activity. Rather, in the majority of cases, the involvement results from the conduct of the inviduals with ownership or control over the companies, particularly from their relationship with the Syrian government and the Syrian armed forces. UN agencies transfer responsibility for such violations to suppliers and vendors to cut costs, but this may result in a lack of transparency or an inability to address key issues. Several agencies operating in the humanitarian sphere refuse to share procurement information. International non-governmental organizations and UN agencies should share human rights risk assessments for sectors in which they are involved. This would reduce the collective burden on mapping and scaling human rights risks. While not all UN procurement processes are the same, they can generally be divided into four phases.[63] The table below compares each of the four phases to the phases of the procurement process as described in the publicly available procurement manuals of the main UN agencies operating in Syria. In each phase, agencies can include steps that strengthen human rights compliance. This section of the guide aims to provide a general description of each phase and the obstacles to human rights compliance, as well as general recommendations and recommendations specific to each phase. Where possible, each recommendation is directed at a specific actor within the procurement process. Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Legal Development Programme have also directly communicated with or sent letters to the following UN agencies, as well as the UN Country Team and the UN Human Rights Advisor. We received a response from the UN Country Team, the UN Human Rights Advisor, and the UNOPS which we have reflected in the guide. Phases as described in the guide Phase 0 Pre-tender information gathering and planning phase Phase I Pre-Purchasing (requirements definition, solicitation) Phase II Purchasing (management of submissions; evaluations and award) Phase III Post-award implementation and contract management (Post-Purchasing) In this phase, UN agencies develop an understanding of “the nature of the requirements, the capacity of the contractors, the complexity of the operating environment, the risks involved and the available capacity of [the agency’s] resources.”[64] In this phase, UN agencies finalise the requirements, including the ineligibility and evaluation criteria, and develop the solicitation document. This stage is where the agencies determine the size of the contract and set out the technical and other criteria that are required for a successful tender/proposal, as well as the conditions that vendors are required to comply with. Following the publication of the invitation to bid/proposal request, UN agency procurement officers’ conduct a preliminary screening of the submitted proposals for viability, followed by a more robust assessment of shortlisted proposals. In this phase, UN agencies are also required to vet the vendors to ensure that they are eligible. Once a contract is awarded, the UN agency in question must finalize the contract, work out the logistics of implementation with the partner and monitor the implementation of the contract. UN Procurement Practitioner’s Handbook[65] UNFPA[66] UNOPS[67] UNDP[68] UNPD[69] UNHCR[70] Information not publicly available; The UNHCR has procurement guidelines for implementing partners procuring on behalf of UNHCR. However, it is unclear whether the same is applicable to the UNHCR’s own procurement. WHO[71] Information not publicly available UNRWA[72] Information not publicly available FAO[73] Information not publicly available UNICEF[74] Information not publicly available WFP[75] Information not publicly available General Recommendations: The UN Resident Coordinator for Syria should ensure that the OHCHR, and the Human Rights Advisor, are regularly engaged and ensure that they are involved at the earliest levels in developing the due diligence criteria for procurement processes, and reviewing these practices against human rights due diligence best practices. Phase 0: Pre-tender information gathering and planning phase In this phase, UN agencies develop an understanding of “the nature of the requirements, the capacity of the contractors, the complexity of the operating environment, the risks involved and the available capacity of [the agency’s] resources.”[76] Market research and other sourcing methodologies assist in gathering the information required.[77] As acknowledged in the Danish Institute for Human Rights’ (DIHR) Guide on Public Procurement, “it is essential to include human rights in pre-tender planning if human rights requirements are to be included at subsequent stages of a procurement process.”[78] Further, the DIHR Guide on Public Procurement notes that “the first step in including human rights requirements in a procurement is to identify and assess the risks of negative human rights impacts” or the actual negative human rights impacts occurring in relevant supply chains.

The risk assessment requires a determination of whether there are human rights abuses associated with the goods and services to be procured, which includes identifying the relevant risks associated with the operating environment, specific sectors, and individual businesses.[79] Based on the information available, human rights-considerations do not play any role in the pre-tender information gathering and planning phase of UN agencies in Syria.[80] Recommendations: Phase I: Pre-Purchasing (requirements definition, solicitation) In this phase, UN agencies finalise the requirements, including the ineligibility and evaluation criteria, and develop the solicitation document. This stage is where the agencies determine the size of the contract and set out the technical and other criteria that are required for a successful tender/proposal, as well as the conditions that vendors are required to comply with. Human Rights Watch and SLDP’s research shows that UN solicitation documents do not indicate the human rights standards that vendors are expected to abide by, nor the minimal standards or criteria for sector-specific human rights considerations. Recommendations: Phase II: Purchasing (management of submissions; evaluations and award) Following the publication of the invitation to bid/proposal request, UN agency procurement officers conduct a preliminary screening of the submitted proposals for viability, followed by a more robust assessment of shortlisted proposals. In this phase, UN agencies are also required to vet the vendors to ensure that they are eligible.[85] The absence of human rights-based criteria in solicitation documents results in the lack of a human rights-based vetting process for UN suppliers. Further, our research reflects that procurement officers rarely actively look for disqualifying criteria, instead relying heavily on self-reporting or high-profile cases that force consideration. In contexts such as Syria, where there is a well-established pattern of systemic abuses and cooptation of aid and economic networks, further scrutiny is required. Procurement officers rarely have the localized knowledge necessary to make determinations regarding different sectors’ involvement in human rights abuses, or where they have localized knowledge, they lack the knowledge of the international frameworks on human rights required to make these determinations. Recommendations: In this phase, there are several stages where the agency can assess the human rights record of the vendor in question. This includes the preliminary screening phase, in which the vendor is checked against the ineligibility lists, and the background check, which occurs almost immediately pre-award. Phase III: Post-award implementation and contract management (Post-Purchasing) Once a contract is awarded, the UN agency in question must finalize the contract, work out the logistics of implementation with the partner, and monitor the implementation of the contract. This is probably the weakest point in most procurement processes.

The leverage of a UN agency to detect and correct the behavior of a bad vendor is narrow after the contract has been awarded. This step also relies on active monitoring, and given the limited capacity of UN agencies and reliance on self-reporting in earlier phases coupled with the lack of human rights clauses in procurement contracts, the ability to robustly assess a vendor’s performance after a contract has been awarded is limited to the satisfactoriness of the technical performance – which may include quantity and quality of goods/services supplied; timing of delivery and communication; and accuracy of documentation.[86] In most contexts, there is a reliance on in-person audits to check that the supplier is implementing the contract in line with the conditions set out in the award phase. However, in Syria, it is sometimes difficult for UN agencies to gain access to areas where programming is implemented.

The Syrian government has also made it difficult for UN agencies to request transparency in dealings and has retaliated against UN agency workers by revoking existing visas or refusing to renew them. [1] https://www.unescwa.org/news/losses-exceeding-442-billion-syria [2] https://www.unescwa.org/news/losses-exceeding-442-billion-syria [3] https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities [4] https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/29/qa-syrias-new-property-law#:~:text=What%20is%20Law%20No.,-10%20of%202018&text=10%20of%202018%3F-,Law%20No.,redevelopment%20zones%20or%20a%20timeline. [5] https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/10/15/targeting-life-idlib/syrian-and-russian-strikes-civilian-infrastructure [6] https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/05/01/death-chemicals/syrian-governments-widespread-and-systematic-use-chemical-weapons [7] https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/16/russia-eviscerates-syria-cross-border-aid-program-despite-pandemic [8] https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/06/28/rigging-system/government-policies-co-opt-aid-and-reconstruction-funding-syria [9] http://hrbaportal.org/wp-content/files/Inter-Agency-HRDDP-Guidance-Note-2015.pdf. [10] Review of UNHCR; UNDP; WFP; UNOPS procurement processes and interviews with three procurement officials between January and October 2020, as well as correspondence on file with UNOPS [11] https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/information [12] https://c5a8d841-f233-4eb1-b756-6b4df54e9f1d.filesusr.com/ugd/92fa9e_fcb025dc12f94842879d31934d686fd6.pdf [13] S. Abboud, ‘The Economics of War and Peace in Syria: Stratification and Factionalization in the Business Community’, The Century Foundation, 31 January 2017. [14] S. Abboud, ‘Syria’s Business Elite’, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, August 2013, 3. [15] J. Daher, ‘Assad Regime Still Reliant on Fractions of the Sunni Bourgeoisie’, Syria Untold, 21 December 2017; S. Abboud, ‘The Economics of War and Peace in Syria: Stratification and Factionalization in the Business Community’, The Century Foundation, 31 January 2017. [16] See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 363/2013 sanctioning Adounia TV for “incit[ing] violence against the civilian population in Syria.”; J. Daher, ‘Assad Regime Still Reliant on Fractions of the Sunni Bourgeoisie’, Syria Untold, 21 December 2017. [17] S. Abboud, ‘The Economics of War and Peace in Syria: Stratification and Factionalization in the Business Community’, The Century Foundation, 31 January 2017. [18] J. Daher, ‘The Political Economic Context of Syria’s Reconstruction: a Prospective in Light of a Legacy of Unequal Development’, European University Institute Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, December 2018; C. Cornish, ‘The Men Making a Fortune From Syria’s War’, Financial Times, 3 October 2019; N. Soura, ‘The Black Market Kings of Damascus’, The Atlantic, 3 October 2016 [19] J. Daher, ‘Assad Regime Still Reliant on Fractions of the Sunni Bourgeoisie’, Syria Untold, 21 December 2017. [20] A. Favier, M. Kostrz, ‘Local elections: Is Syria Moving to Reassert Central Control?’, European University Institute Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, February 2019. [21] J. Daher, ‘The Syrian Chambers of Commerce in 2020:The Rise of a New Business Elite’, European University Institute Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, November 2020. [22] Z. Awad, A. Favier, ‘Elections in Wartime: The Syrian People’s Council (2016-2020)’, European University Institute Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, April 2020; Z. Awad, A. Favier ‘Syrian People’s Council Elections 2020: The Regime’s Social Base Contracts’ European University Institute Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, October 2020. [23] J. Yazigi, ‘Destruct to Reconstruct: How the Syrian Regime Capitalises on Property Destruction and Land Legislation’, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, July 2017, 11. [24] Human Rights Watch (HRW), ‘Razed to the Ground Syria’s Unlawful Neighborhood Demolitions in 2012-2013’, 30 January 2014; HRW, ‘Syria: Residents Blocked From Returning’, 16 October 2018. [25] J.D. Unruh, Weaponization of the Land and Property Rights System in the Syrian CivilWar: Facilitating Restitution? (2016) Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 6. [26] PAX, ‘Legal Obstacles to Housing, Land and Property Rights in Syria’, 6 March 2019, 9-13; HRW, ‘Q&A: Syria’s New Property Law’, 29 May 2018. [27] https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/06/28/rigging-system/government-policies-co-opt-aid-and-reconstruction-funding-syria#8741 [28] UN General Assembly Security Council, A/67/775 - S/2013/110, Human rights due diligence policy on United Nations support to non-United Nations security forces, Annex para 1 (Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/SP/AMeetings/20thsession/IdenticalLetterSG25Feb2013_en.pdf ) [29] The Highest Aspiration, a Call to Action for Human Rights, 2020, available at https://www.un.org/sg/sites/www.un.org.sg/files/atoms/files/The_Highest_Asperation_A_Call_To_Action_For_Human_Right_English.pdf . [30] Ibid, 3. [31] Ibid, 6. [32] WFP Strategic Plan (2017-2012), 37, available at: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/wfp286743.pdf; UNDP Strategic Plan, 2018-2021, para 22 available at: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/1318769?ln=en ; UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018-2021, para 8 available at: https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/DP.FPA_.2017.9_-_UNFPA_strategic_plan_2018-2021_-_FINAL_-_25July2017_-_corrected_24Aug17.pdf; UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018- 2021, paras 16, 90 available at: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/1301077?ln=en#record-files-collapse-header [33] UN Procurement Practitioner’s Handbook, 2020, 3, available at: https://www.ungm.org/Shared/KnowledgeCenter/Pages/PPH2. [34] UN Procurement Practitioner’s Handbook, 2020, available at: https://www.ungm.org/Shared/KnowledgeCenter/Pages/PPH2 . [35]Ibid, 9. [36] Ibid, 20. [37] Ibid, 28. [38] Ibid, 27. [39] Ibid. [40] UN Supplier Code of Conduct, 2017, 3, available at: https://www.un.org/Depts/ptd/about-us/un-supplier-code-conduct. [41] UNDP, General Terms and Conditions for Contracts, September 2017, 17-18; UNDP, Standard Invitation to Bid, 31, available at: https://www.ungm.org/Public/Notice/84588; UNICEF, General Terms and Conditions of Contract (goods), 2017, 13; UNICEF, Invitation to Bid, 16, available at: https://www.unicef.org/supply/files/ITB.pdf ; Most UN agencies’ general terms and conditions of contract only address a limited amount of human rights considerations, such as child labour, sexual exploitation and anti-personnel mines manufacturing, see UNHCR General Terms and Conditions of Contract for the Provision of Goods and Services, available at: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/admin/sts/4c28a2fd6/general-terms-conditions-goods-services.html [42] The UN Principles and Parameters for Assistance to Syria, available at: https://www.kommersant.ru/docs/2018/UN-Assistane-in-Syria-2017.pdf [43] A/75/212, para 78, available at: https://undocs.org/en/A/75/212 [44] HRC resolution 17/4 of 16 June 2011, available at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/G11/144/71/PDF/G1114471.pdf?OpenElement [45] The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights , Principle 11. [46] The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, UNGP 17. [47] Ibid. [48] The UN Principles and Parameters for Assistance to Syria, available at: https://www.kommersant.ru/docs/2018/UN-Assistane-in-Syria-2017.pdf [49] https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/07/03/torture-archipelago/arbitrary-arrests-torture-and-enforced-disappearances-syrias [50] https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/29/sexual-violence-against-men-trans-women-syria-conflict [51] https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/09/syria-extrajudicial-executions [52] https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/25/syria-counterterrorism-court-used-stifle-dissent [53] https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/06/03/russia/syria-flurry-prohibited-weapons-attacks [54] https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/04/syria-year-chemical-weapons-attacks-persist [55] https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/10/15/targeting-life-idlib/syrian-and-russian-strikes-civilian-infrastructure [56] https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/12/syria-landmines-kill-injure-hundreds-raqqa [57] https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/09/syria-extrajudicial-executions [58] https://in.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-detention/syrian-forces-use-sexual-violence-against-men-women-children-hrw-idUSBRE85E0HL20120615 [59] https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/29/qa-syrias-new-property-law [60] https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/06/28/rigging-system/government-policies-co-opt-aid-and-reconstruction-funding-syria [61] https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/guidingprinciplesbusinesshr_en.pdf [62] Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” 2011, https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/GuidingprinciplesBusinesshr_eN.pdf (last accessed May 7, 2019). [63] Based on an examination of the different publicly available guidance on procurement processes. [64] UNOPS Procurement Manual, 37. [65] UN Procurement Practioner’s Handbook, The aim of the handbook is to serve the following purposes: • Provide UN procurement practitioners with a common reference point for good procurement practices in the UN system. • Describe the common and typical guiding principles, policies, procedures and practices which govern UN procurement activities. • Support on-going procurement reform and harmonization efforts in the UN system through the provision of good practice examples and shared principles and procedures. • Establish a common knowledge platform for training and on-going procurement capacity development. (available at https://www.ungm.org/Shared/KnowledgeCenter/Pages/PPH2 ) [66] UNFPA Procurement Procedures (available at https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/PROC_Regular_Procurement.pdf ) [67] UNOPS Procurement Manual (available at https://content.unops.org/service-Line-Documents/Procurement/UNOPS-Procurement-Manual-2019_EN.pdf ) [68] https://popp.undp.org/SitePages/POPPBSUnit.aspx?TermID=254a9f96-b883-476a-8ef8-e81f93a2b38d&lng=English , [69] UNPD conducts procurement for the UN Secretariat. United Nations Procurement Manual (available at https://www.un.org/Depts/ptd/sites/www.un.org.Depts.ptd/files/files/attachment/page/pdf/pm.pdf ). [70] The only comprehensive guidelines on UNHCR Procurement are the “Guidance on Procurement by Partners with UNHCR Funds” available at https://www.unhcr.org/ua/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2018/06/IP-Management-Guidance-Note-4_ENG.pdf .

The UNHCR website provides basic information on: “how to submit a bid”, “contract awards”, “general terms and conditions” and “procurement debriefs and protests” (available at: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/become-a-supplier.html ) [71] In addition to a FAQ page, the WHO website includes basic information on: the “procurement methods” and “procurement workflow”, “contract awards”, “guiding principles”, how to “become a supplier” and “quality assurance” (available at: https://www.who.int/about/accountability/procurement ). [72] The UNRWA website provides basic information on the procurement process (available at: https://www.unrwa.org/procurement/policy ). [73] The FAO website provides basic information on the procurement process (available at https://www.fao.org/unfao/procurement/general-information/en/ ) [74] The UNICEF website provides basic information on the procurement process (available at: https://www.unicef.org/supply/procurement-services ) [75] The WFP website provides basic information on the procurement process (available at: https://www.unicef.org/supply/suppliers-and-service-providers ). In addition it provides more specific information on the process to be included in the WFP Roster for “International Food Procurement” and “Goods and Services Procurement” (available at https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000124519/download/?_ga=2.75670229.1129985047.1637669871-884248132.1637669871 and at https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000124520/download/?_ga=2.75670229.1129985047.1637669871-884248132.1637669871 ). [76] UNOPS Procurement Manual, 37. [77] UN Procurement Practitioner’s Handbook, 86-89; UNOPS Procurement Manual, 46-50. [78] Danish Institute for Human Rights, Driving Change Through Public Procurement (March 2020), 64. [79] Danish Institute for Human Rights, Driving Change Through Public Procurement, 65. [80] Review of publicly available material for UN procurement; correspondence with UNOPS; interviews with three UN officials with expertise on procurement and Syria. [81] UNOPS criteria for vendor ineligibility. [82] See above, the current UN Syria sanctions regime targets exclusively individuals and entities with links to Al Qaeda/ISIS. [83] UNDP and UNICEF are the only two main UN agencies in Syria whose General Terms and Conditions for Contract expressly require suppliers to comply with the UN Supplier Code of Conduct (which prohibits complicity in human rights abuses by suppliers) as an essential term of the contract, see UNDP, General Terms and Conditions for Contracts, September 2017, 17-18; UNICEF, General Terms and Conditions of Contract (goods), 2017, 13 [84] See UNHCR, General Conditions of Contract for the Provision of Goods, July 2008, available at: https://www.unhcr.org/ua/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2020/11/Annex-B-UNHCR-General-Conditions-Procurement-of-Goods.pdf . [85] An initial screening of the eligibility of suppliers appears to be carried out as part of the supplier registration process (see United Nations Procurement Manual, 35-40 available at: https://www.un.org/Depts/ptd/sites/www.un.org.Depts.ptd/files/files/attachment/page/pdf/pm.pdf ). [86] See e.g. UNFPA procurement manual [87] UNGPS, Principle 31.

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