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On November 15, 2017, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held closed consultations on humanitarian aspects of establishing de-escalation zones in Syria. Russian experts and ICRC staff members took part in the meeting.

Magne Barth, Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Russia, Belarus and Moldova, former Head of ICRC Delegation in Syria, and Alexander Aksenyonok, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, RIAC member, member of the expert Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, delivered welcome remarks.

On November 15, 2017, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held closed consultations on humanitarian aspects of establishing de-escalation zones in Syria. Russian experts and ICRC staff members took part in the meeting.

Magne Barth, Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Russia, Belarus and Moldova, former Head of ICRC Delegation in Syria, and Alexander Aksenyonok, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, RIAC member, member of the expert Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, delivered welcome remarks.

The event was divided into three sessions. In the course of the first session, the participants discussed the characteristics of different types of "zones", the arguments in favor of their establishment, the history of creation of de-escalation zones in Syria, and the problems associated with creation of such zones; the second session focused on sharing views on the legal aspects of de-escalation zones functioning and assessment of their impact on human well-being and the progress achieved. In the third section, the participants reviewed practical measures and obligations of the parties to reduce the vulnerability of the population in these regions, the adaptation of the efforts made to the specific situation, and obstacles the humanitarian organizations face.

Participants of the meeting noted the innovativeness and effectiveness of de-escalation zones in Syria. The efforts of Russian specialists "on the ground" and the positive effect from the creation of de-escalation zones resulted in stabilization of the situation and the establishment of an inter-Syrian dialogue. International humanitarian organizations wish to be known as long-term partners in de-escalation measures. The zones of de-escalation are a necessary temporary measure until the situation gets completely stabilized. Experts point out that creation of such zones is based on the norms of "soft law", and is not formally legally binding. Representatives of Russian state agencies confirmed the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of Syria. All participants agreed on the need to continue work on providing humanitarian and medical assistance for those in need.

The reports were made by the following speakers: Dmitry Zaporozhets, representative of the Department of International Military Cooperation of Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation; Viktor Smirnov, Senior Advisor at Middle East and North Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Claude Bruderlein, Strategic Advisor to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Pascal Daudin, Senior Policy Adviser at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva; Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Director of the RAS Institute for Oriental Studies, RIAC member; Dmitry Ivanov, Associate Professor in International Law, MGIMO MFA; Alexandre Equey, Deputy Head of ICRC Mission to Syria; Andrey Baklanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Advisor to the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation; and Yuri Brazhnikov, Director of the International Activities Department in the Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies, and Disaster Response (EMERCOM). Timur Makhmutov, RIAC Deputy Director of Programs, and Claude Bruderlein, Strategic Advisor to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, moderated the sessions.

Representatives of MGIMO-University, HSE, RAS Institute for Oriental Studies, RAS IMEMO, RIAC experts and members took part in the meeting.

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