Ghuna Bdiwi

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Dissertation Title: The Value of Calls for Criminal Accountability in the Midst of Ongoing Civil Wars – The Case of Syria

Dissertation Topic:

Criminal justice, as one mechanism of transitional justice, seeks to deal with crimes that were committed during a conflict period, but to do so at a stage where the particular society is on the cusp of transition from a society in conflict to one of democracy and peace. Syria is an example of a society in the midst of ongoing conflict with no clear prospect of an end. Crimes against humanity are being committed by different parties in the Syrian battle, which has motivated the international community and the Syrian diaspora to call for justice and punishment of wrongdoers before the end of the conflict. In societies in the midst of post-conflict transition or ongoing social peace, punishment and criminalization have different justifications, such as deterrence and retribution, but what is the value of calls for criminal accountability in the midst of civil war. My PhD dissertation will question whether calls for criminal accountability in the midst of civil wars, as opposed to in societies in the midst of post-conflict transition or ongoing social peace, are justified.


  • Master of Laws (LLM) - Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Master of Banking and Finance (MSc) - Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV, France
  • Bachelor of Law (LLB) - Beirut Arabic University, Lebanon

Teaching Experience

  • 2016- Current Teacher Assistant, Course title: "Introduction to Human Rights and Equity Study." York University - Faculty of Liberal Art and Professional Studies - Department of Equity Studies, Toronto, Canada
  • 2014-2016 Teacher Assistant, Course title: "Introduction to Gender & Women’s studies". York University - Faculty of Liberal Art and Professional Studies - School of Gender, Sexuality and Women Studies, Toronto, Canada

Professional Experience

  • 2009–2012 Human Rights Lawyer Bdiwi Law Office, Damascus, Syria
  • 2009-2011 Bdiwi Law Office, Damascus, Syria Legal Consultants
  • 2006–2009 Lawyer Sinan Law Firm, Damascus, Syria


  • “Is the Responsibility to Protect Still Alive After Syria?" (to be published).


  • 2017 Centre for Refugees Studies – York University
  • 2016 John Peters Humphrey Fellowship in International Human Rights form The Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL)
  • 2015 Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crimes and Security
  • 2014 Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect, Toronto, Canada
  • 2015 International Human Rights Award, International Centre of Human Rights, Toronto-Canada.
  • 2013-2020 York University Scholarship for Graduate Studies, York University
  • 2014 Harley D. Hallett Graduate Scholarship, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • 2009 Foundation for Continental Law – Civil Law Initiative.


  • “Do We Really Need Justice? Exploring the Impact of Accountability During Civil Wars,” delivered at Governing Our Commons: What Matter To Us Today”, McGill Faculty of Law, Montreal, Canada (May 2017).
  • “Is it Justifiable to Punish During Ongoing Conflicts? The Syria Dilemma,” delivered at “The Justice, Crime and Deviance Conference” - Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus (April 2017).
  • “After the failure in Syria: is R2P still alive?” delivered at the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal- “Problems Abroad? Revisiting the Intervention Trap in an Era of Global Uncertainty”- Carlton University, Ottawa, Canada (October 2016).
  • IGLP - Institute for Global Law and Policy- Harvard University, “The Workshop,” Madrid- Spain (July 2016).
  • Toronto Group Conference: From the Local to the Global: The Evolving Role of Transnational Adjudication, Osgoode Hall Law School- York University, (6 May 2016).
  • CUHK Summer Workshop – Osgoode Hall Law School- York University, (July 2016) (Lecturer - Guest speaker).
  • Refugee Sponsorship Support Research (SSP) Course – Osgoode Hall Law School- York University, (5 April 2016) (Lecturer - Guest speaker).
  • “The Syrian refugee crisis, are European member states complying with international law in their responses to the Syrian refugees?”, Centre for Refugee Studies – York University, (12 November 2015) (Lecturer - Guest speaker).
  • Western Political Science Research Forum - University of Western Ontario- London, Canada (March 2015).
  • “Borders or No Borders, A Panel Discussion on The Implications On the Syrian Refugee Crisis.” WUSC & PSSA Present, University Of Toronto, (March 2017).
  • “An Open Forum with Syrian Youth - Social Development Open Dialogue,” The City of Toronto, (February 2017).
  • “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Causes and International Responses,” Transitional Justice Law & Justice Network, Faculty of Law, Windsor University, (1 April 2016). “Guest Speaker.”
  • “The Role of Diasporas In Canada”, Canadian Council For Refugees, Fall Consultation 2015, Hamilton-ON, (27 November 2015).
  • “The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), A Special Lecture in Honour of the Third Anniversary of the Syrian revolution”, Middle East Law Student Association - Osgoode Hall Law School, (March 2014).