Documents issued by non-State actors

What is the challenge?

An emerging challenge is the question of the legitimacy and value attributed to personal documents (including birth and marriage registrations) issued in non-government controlled areas of Syria by non-State actors. In numerous areas of Syria, these documents may be all the only ones available to people, yet the question of their legal validity is a difficult one. For children, the established principle of international law that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all decisions relating to the child (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3) should be taken into account when decisions on the acceptance of documents are made. The protection needs of displaced persons should be considered in determining the acceptance of documents in practice if not in law.

Which non-State actors are known to be issuing documents?

Some examples of documents that are currently being issued by the following non-State actors in Syria:

  • Kurdish Self Administrated Area
  • Local Councils in southern Syria
  • Free Independent Judicial Council under the Interim Government
  • Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Are they being accepted?

In the refugee-hosting countries neighbouring Syria, there is a lack of consistency as to which non-State actor-issued documents are accepted. Certain Lebanese religious judges, for example, accept itilaf documents (those issued by local councils in opposition-controlled areas), whereas in other areas these documents are considered fraudulent. It is reported that some Syrian Sheikhs resident in Lebanon have even considered it within their power to issue such documents. In Jordan, there seems to be a systematic refusal to recognise documents issued by non-State actors, including itilaf documents. In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, there has been a surge in the use of documents produced by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit forces, but neither the authorities nor the international NGOs accept these as proof of identity. In Turkey there are cases of some of these documents being accepted.

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