This research paper aimed to explore specific modalities for an international mechanism that can monitor the conditions for safe, voluntary, informed and dignified return in Syria. It first outlines the specific human rights challenges that displaced Syrians face, after which it develops a set of general principles that should guide any future international monitoring effort. With these general principles in mind, the paper then assesses six specific options to monitor the conditions for safe, voluntary, informed and dignified return inside Syria.

The paper clearly finds that the options for monitoring the conditions for safe, voluntary, informed and dignified return are available, and best practices from both Syria and other contexts can be used and further explored to fit the Syrian context. However, currently, such monitoring is not happening.

RPW recommends the following steps to be taken:
1. Actively explore the establishment of an interagency “Joint Monitoring Expert Team” mechanism: taking into account the principles outlined in section 3 of this paper, such a multi-stakeholder mechanism could bring together the expertise and operational capacity of key stakeholders (including local CSOs, UN agencies such as UNHCR, OCHA and OHCHR, and International NGOs).
2. Involve the broader UN human rights system: ensure that the situation of refugee and DP returnees in Syria is more actively addressed by Geneva-based instruments.
3. Localisation of monitoring: donors should make more resources and technical support available for Syrian-led and Syrian-owned research efforts that document human rights and protection concerns across the whole return journey, including the voluntariness of return decisions, the return journey (especially while crossing the border), and the protection and human rights situation of returnees in the area of return. This issue is of key importance in order to help ensure the knowledge and expertise of Syrians is better incorporated into policy discussions and to help increase information available to Syrians who are thinking of returning.

The Refugee Protection Watch (RPW) Coalition – an initiative between Basmeh and Zeitooneh, ALEF Act for Human Rights, PAX, 11.11.11. and Upinion – undertakes research and advocacy on protection issues facing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the conditions for safe, voluntary, dignified and informed return inside Syria.