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As the civil war rages, Syrians are already adopting alternative methods of funding basic services. In liberated territory, they are also beginning to create alternative financial institutions. This is not the first time such a situation has arisen in the wake of a humanitarian crisis. Mechanisms which can deliver funding fast while preserving accountability and transparency have been used in the past and can be made to work in Syria as well.

This memo: 

  • Makes the case for a trust fund in Syria, to be set up now or in preparation for the future.
  • Outlines how a Multi-Donor Trust Fund can work by covering the following issues:
    • Design and governance
    • Rules and guidelines
    • Management, programming and operations.
  • Suggests some design choices for Syria.

A list of selected trust funds detailing key design choices is provided at the end of the memo.

The case for a Syrian trust fund builds on discussions with government officials, NGOs, journalists and Syrian opposition members at the Legatum Institute in the spring of 2013. These meetings were prompted by Preparing for a Syrian Transition, a report written by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. Drawing on lessons from past transitions around the world, they argued that it could make sense to move early to establish a trust fund.

About Clare Lockhart
Clare Lockhart is co-founder and director of the Institute for State Effectiveness which works with a range of countries aiming to make transitions from instability to stability and from poverty to prosperity. She is also director of the Market-Building Program, which focuses on approaches to job-creation and growth. In 2001 Ms Lockhart was a member of the UN negotiation team for the Bonn Agreement on Afghanistan and spent several years living in the country as Adviser to the UN and Afghan Government. Prior to 2001, she managed a programme on institutions at the World Bank. She is a lawyer and member of the Bar of England and Wales and has degrees from Oxford University (Modern History) and Harvard University (MPA, Kennedy School). She is co-author with Dr Ghani of Fixing Failed States (2008) and has authored and co-authored numerous articles on development, institution-building and citizenship. Ms Lockhart was selected as a Young Global Leader in 2011 and as Chair of the Fragile States Council in 2011 -2012 for the World Economic Forum and Vice-Chair for 2012- 14. She is a regular contributor to the media. She serves on a number of advisory boards including the Asia Foundation, the Women’s Regional Network for South Asia and the Developmental Leadership Program.

Preparing for a Syrian Transition is part of the Legatum Institute's 'Transitions Forum', a series of projects dedicated to the challenges and possibilities of radical political and economic change.