Syria: the final statement for the Syrian opposition conference

Held in Cairo July 2-3, 2012

The Syrian opposition conference held under the auspices of the Arab League completed its work on the evening of 3 July 2012, with the participation of 210 figures representing the various Syrian opposition sides, political trends and independent figures inside and outside Syria, and revolutionary movements. The conference discussed responsibly all the core issues related to the Syrian revolution and the conference issued the following documents:

- A compatibility document defining the joint political vision for the Syrian opposition regarding the challenges of the transitional period.

- The national compact document that structures the constitutional basis for the future of Syria, which are justice, democracy and plurality.

- The conferees agreed that the political solution in Syria begins with the removal of the regime represented in Bashar Al-Assad and figures of his authority, and guaranteeing accountability of those who are involved in the killing of Syrians. The conference demanded as well an immediate stop of acts of killings and violations committed by the Syrian regime; the withdrawal of the army; the dismantling of the siege imposed on Syrian cities and residential areas; and the immediate release of detainees.

- The conference emphasized support for the Free Syrian Army and all forms of revolutionary movements, and working on unifying the powers of the Free Syrian Army and its leaders to serve the goals of the Syrian people’s revolution.

- The conference emphasized asking all Syrian people to work on protecting the civil peace and national unity.

- The conferees emphasized in the documents issued by the conference that the desired change in Syria will not happen except with the free will of the Syrian people who revolted against the oppressive and tyrant regime. The conference demanded structuring a compulsory mechanism to provide protection for civilians and a time frame for immediate and full implementation of the resolutions of the Arab League and UNSC, and asks the UNSC to take the necessary procedures to mandate immediate implementation of these resolutions.

Syrian Opposition Conference

July 2-3, 2012

THE NATIONAL COMPACT

The participants pledged that a new constitution of the country to approve the contents of this Pact:

• The Syrian people are one people, whose texture was established through history on the full equality of citizenship regardless of their origin, color, sex, language, ethnicity, political opinion, religion, or sect, on the basis of a comprehensive national concurrence,  No one is to impose a religion or a belief on anyone, or to prevent any one of the free choice of his  religion and its practice. Women are equal with men, and it is not permissible to go back on the gains of any of their rights. Any citizen has the right to occupy any position in the state, including the post of President of the Republic, regardless of his religion or nationalism either man or woman. Thus, the Syrian people are to be proud of their rich and diverse civilization, cultural and religious roots, representing a main part of their culture and society and build their own state on the basis of unity in diversity, with the participation of various components without any discrimination or exclusion.

• Man is the aim of the relationship between the members of the one nation, which is based on a commitment to international conventions and protocols on human, social, and economic rights, endorsed by humanity, and to ensure the enjoyment of these rights for citizens and residents alike.

• Syrian people are free and sovereign in their country and land, which are two inseparable political units and it is not allowed to give up any inch of it, including the occupied Golan. The Syrian people have the right to struggle for the restoration of their occupied territories by all possible means.

• Individual, public and collective freedoms are the basis for the relationship between the people of one nation; the State shall guarantee public freedoms, including freedom of access to information and media, the formation of NGOs, Syndicates and political parties, freedom of belief and practice of religions, freedom of peaceful demonstration and strike.  The state establishes rules to safeguard these freedoms from the dominance of money or political power. The Syrian State shall guarantee the respect of social diversity, beliefs, interests and privacies for all spectrums of the Syrian people, and to recognize the cultural and political rights for all the people and their aspiration for development and care.

• The Constitution guarantees removal of all forms of discrimination against women and seeks to create legislative and legal conditions that guarantee enabling them politically, economically and socially in accordance with all relevant international conventions and community culture.

• The Syrian State recognizes the existence of a Kurdish nationality among its citizens, with their legitimate national identity and rights according to international conventions and protocols, within the framework of the unity of the Syrian nation. The Kurdish nationals in Syria are considered as an integral part of the Syrian people. The State shall similarly recognize the existence, identity and national rights of the Assyrian and Turkmen Syrian nationals, who are considered an intrinsic part of the Syrian community.

• Syria is part of the Arab World, its peoples are linked by bonds of culture, history, interests, major goals and a common destiny. Syria, a founding member of the League of Arab States, is looking forward to strengthening various forms of cooperation and interdependence between the Arab countries.

• The Syrian people are committed to supporting the Palestinian people and their right to create their own free, sovereign and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

• The Syrian people are linked to all other Muslim peoples with joint historical roots and common human values based on divine religions.

• Syria is part of the global system and is a founding member of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations; therefore Syria is committed to its Conventions, and seeks with other countries of the world to establish an international order removed from all central conflicts, domination, and occupation. A system based on balanced relations, mutual interests and shared responsibility in facing general challenges and dangers that threaten security and peace of the world.

• People are the source of legitimacy and sovereignty which are achieved through a democratic, republican, pluralistic, civil system, where law prevails and is based on institutions.  Monopolization of power or inheriting it under any form is not allowed.

• The ruling institutions in the Syrian state stand on the basis of periodic elections and complete separation between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and on the principle of the rotation of power through free and secret elections, and respect for election results determined by the ballot box, regardless of the election results.

• A new Constitution is to approve the basis of a democratic, pluralistic and civic system, as well as a modern electoral system, that ensures the right for fair participation of all ideological and political currents, according to rules ensuring a broadest representation of the people, stability of the parliamentary system, adequate controls the financial resources and expenditures of political parties and groups.

• The Syrian army is the national institution that protects the country and safeguards its independence and sovereignty over its territory, is keen on the national security and does not interfere in political life.

• The State will adopt the principle of administrative decentralization, so that the local administration is based on representative executive institutions to administer citizen services and development in the provinces and regions, in order to achieve sustainable and balanced development.

• The State shall protect private property, which may not be seized except for public benefit within the law and in exchange for fair compensation, without re-allocating them for special interests.

• The State shall safeguard public funds and public properties for the benefit of the people.  Its policy is based on social justice, balanced development, and redistribution of income and wealth through the tax system between social categories and between regions, and ensuring freedom of investment, economic initiative, equal opportunities and markets within anti-monopolization and speculation control, and which protects the rights of workers and consumers.

• The Syrian State is committed to removing all forms of poverty and discrimination, and fighting unemployment with the aim of full decent employment and fair wages, and to achieve justice in the distribution of national wealth, and balanced development and environmental protection, and to provide basic services for all citizens: housing, zoning, clean drinking water, sewage/sanitation, electricity, telephone, Internet, roads and public transportation, quality education and qualification, comprehensive health insurance, retirement pensions and unemployment compensation, at prices appropriate with the standards of living.

The first draft for this document has been drafted and approved by the preparatory committee to be presented to the Syrian Opposition Conference. It has been discussed in the first session of the conference, and some amendments were approved by the participants in the conference in the concluding working session in the evening of July 3, 2012.

Syrian Opposition Conference

Final Version

The Joint Political Vision for the Features of the Transitional Phase as Approved by the Syrian Opposition Conference held Under the Auspices of the League of Arab States in Cairo

July 2-3, 2012

Removal of power and transitional phase

Definitions:

The removal phase is a stage of struggle and determination until Bashar al-Assad and the symbols of power are toppled.

The transitional phase is the stage between this removal and the election of a President and a Parliament on the basis of a new constitution for the State of Syria, and the emergence of a government representing the elected parliament. For their achievement, both phases require compromise actions between the forces of opposition at political, legal, security, economic and social levels, as well as at the level of transitional justice.

1 – REMOVAL Phase:

Justice for the sacrifices and the sufferings of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity will only be through the removal of the main symbols of power, because their presence represents an obstacle for the construction of the democratic pluralistic civil state, a state of equality in citizenship and freedoms, which all Syrians are going to produce. Struggle will continue for this goal on the following basis:

• The political solution in Syria starts with the removal of Bashar al-Assad and the figures of his authority, and holding accountable those involved in the killing of Syrians.

• Revolutionary persistence, popular will and revolution would continue until the removal of the ruling authority.

• Desired change will not take place unless by the will and sacrifices of the Syrians, through an Arab and international effective mobilization, to protect the unity, sovereignty and stability of Syria and setting an abiding mechanism for the protection of the Syrian civilians and a timetable for the immediate and full implementation of the resolution of  the relevant Arab League and Security Council Resolutions, and demanding the Security Council to take the necessary measures to impose the immediate implementation of these resolutions.

• The need to unite the efforts of the opposition at all levels in order to achieve the toppling of the regime as soon as possible.

• Supporting the revolutionary movement and Free Syrian Army, and working on uniting its forces and leaders, so as to serve the objectives of the revolution of the Syrian people.

• To invite all parties to act with full keenness on the protection of civil and national peace.

 

2- TRANSITIONAL PHASE

This phase starts on the moment of Bashar Al-Assad and the official regime figures fall and ends with the election of a free legislative council based on a permanent new constitution.

  • Political and legal reference:
    • Immediately as Bashar Al-Assad and regime icons fall, the government shall be dismissed, the current parliament shall be dissolved and a caretaker government shall be installed with agreement among political and revolutionary opposition powers, and the authority of the national fait-accompli and those whose hands are clean from the blood of Syrians or from embezzling public funds, relying on basis that comply with the documents and resolutions of Cairo Conference, until the formation of a transitional government.
    • As soon as the caretaker government assumes authority, the ruling Baath Party shall be dissolved along with all its affiliated institutions, and their properties will be seized and returned to the state, while its members will be allowed to practice political work according to the new laws.
    • To call for a wide national conference in Damascus to include all political powers and society segments without exception, in order to ratify the establishment of a temporary legislative body (General Authority to defend the goals of the revolution and democratic transition) and a transitional government of personalities known for their efficiency and integrity.
    • The temporary legislative body shall work on issuing a constitutional declaration relying on the national compact document adopted at the Cairo Conference and that includes the status of the presidency in the transitional phase, as well as the Supreme Judicial Council, National Security Council, Supreme Authority for Accountability and Reconciliation, the General Authority for Social Re-compensation and Reconstruction. This body shall be responsible for observing the executive authority, issuing temporary laws organizing daily life during the transitional phase, including freedoms of media, demonstration, establishment of parties, syndicates and associations, and it will cancel all the discriminatory declarations and laws against the Kurdish, Turkmen and Azurite nationalities in Syria or any other segment of the Syrian people.  It shall establish a law for elections of a constituent council and draft for a permanent constitution based on the national compact.
    • The transitional government shall be responsible for administering the country’s affairs under the control of the legislative body formed by the national conference and it shall handle the priorities for eliminating the social and urban effects of the previous regime and to enhance the national economy.
    • Within the maximum of one year of its establishment, the temporary legislative body and the transitional government shall work to hold elections for the constituent parliament, which shall approve the constitution draft and present the constitution to a public referendum within a maximum period of six months.
    • As soon as the constituent parliament is elected, the temporary legislative body shall be dissolved and a new government will be formed based on the majority that resulted from the elections.
  • Military and security establishment:
    • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad and figures of authority fall, the honorable elements of the regular army whose hands were not stained by the blood of Syrians shall sign with the free Syrian army and armed resistance a memorandum of understanding that regulates the operations of a ceasefire and withdrawal of the army back to its barracks, establishing security, and preserving civil and national peace under the care and supervision of the Security Council, if necessary.
    • The transitional government shall establish a National Security Council headed by the chairman of the executive authority and it shall include among its members honorable military leaders whose hands were not stained with the blood of Syrians as well as elements of free army, armed resistance and relevant civilian figures, and this National Security Council abides by the regulations established by the temporary legislative body.
    • The National Security Council shall oversee the restructuring of the armed forces and security agencies after they submit to the Council’s authority in order to rid these agencies of whoever is proven to have been involved, dissolve armed militias (Shabiha), withdraw weapons from civilians, and to recruit revolutionaries who want to join the armed forces.  This Council shall also protect the records and documents to facilitate the establishment of transitional justice, protection of prisons and maintaining safety of public and private properties against any vandalism.
  • Transitional Justice:
    • A General Authority for Accountability and National Reconciliation will be established under the supervision of the temporary legislative body and then the constituent parliament, based on the basics of the national compact, to:
    • Achieve justice for all the victims who were subjected to systematic violations of their humanitarian rights or abused, to compensate them and hold accountable those who committed such actions, as well as finding mechanisms for additional social compensations that would prevent the aggravation of social conflicts.
    • To establish transparency in publishing the documents and facts regarding the behavior of those who committed the crimes in addition to the experiences of the victims.
    • Creating mechanisms for accountability and transparency to prevent the occurrence of new violations during the implementation of transitional justice and regaining the faith and confidence of citizens in state institutions, as well as contributing to enhancing the authority of the law and democratic institutions and their legitimacy; aiming at consolidating a suitable environment for mending the cracks and achieving a comprehensive, inclusive reconciliation at national and local levels.
    • To treat the individual and mass effects of violence, oppression and tyranny and to provide physiological support for children, women and victims of violence.
    • To eliminate the effects of previous discriminative polices, including the cancellation of law no. 49 for the year 1980, removing the injustice towards the displaced of Golan, the victims of the events of the eighties, the 2004 Kurdish intifada, the confiscations and their effects, and to compensate afflicted people, and find fair solutions for accumulating problems.
    • To eliminate the effects of discriminative and unjust policies and laws against the Kurdish nationality in Syria and their consequences, and compensate all afflicted Syrian people, and restoring the rights to its deserving people.
  • The General Agency of Accountability and National Reconciliation includes specialists in different legal, social, rights, psychological and cultural fields in addition to national, social and artistic figures that enjoy credibility and the ability to influence in order to implement the mechanisms of transitional justice through the following steps:
  • An independent judicial authority to decide about the crimes committed by the regime including the high officials of the regime such that it becomes fair and objective and achieves the proper speed in accountability operations.
  • The fact-finding committee shall work on collecting statements and investigating the crimes of the regime during the revolution and refer them to the judicial authority, including high leadership and front lines of the regime.
  • A historical committee that aims at investigating the long term crimes and revealing the facts regarding the crimes of the Syrian regime against Syrian people, such as Hama massacre, the issue of political detentions, field executions and the issue of forcibly migrating and arbitrary displacing people.
  • Local reconciliation committees to include influential patriotic and social personalities benefiting from social nature to start working on a process of national reconciliation and national dialogue using different means and taking into consideration in its formation local privacies of the Syrian social structure.
  • Arbitration committees to work on settling small civil conflicts created by the revolutionary period with regard to individuals, which shall take into consideration settling minor issues and civil disagreements and work on national reconciliation.
  • The authority shall establish a Commemoration Office that will honor the memory of martyrs and detainees and to establish memorial statues for the martyrs in order to morally and psychologically compensate the society.
  • To insert the principles of transitional justice in the educational and school curricula, as well as within religious, social and cultural establishments.
  • Issue amnesty for some minor crimes related to recent events.
  • Regarding crimes related to revolution events that involved individuals and gangs (Shabiha), the ordinary courts shall continue to operate according to Syrian law and look into these crimes – parallel with reforming these courts – and will guarantee the adequate speed in issuing verdicts related to these crimes and guarantee the right of all citizens to utilize the law, appeal personally, and have access to a fair trial.
  • To establish a psychological and social support teams affiliated with a specialized office in the agency and in cooperation with civil society organizations specialized in treatment of shock cases related to all kinds of violence practiced against women, children, and detainees in order to rehabilitate them and offer them the necessary medical care and recovery needed for re-integrating them.
  • This Agency works in cooperation with the judiciary to establish regulations for accountability and reconciliation regarding members of the former authority and armed groups (Shabiha) and to guarantee the right of all citizens in fair trials that would secure their rights.
  • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad and regime figures are toppled, the properties of the members of the former regime, their families and relatives involved in embezzling public funds inside and outside, should be put seized until the whole issue is dealt with according to the regulations to be established by the temporary legislative body or the parliament, including money retained abroad.
  • Economic and social situation
    • A General Agency for Social Compensations and Reconstruction will be established under the supervision of the temporary legislative body and then the parliament, based on the basics of the national compact to:
    • Support the afflicted by current developments and reconstruct their private properties that were demolished.
    • Support the families of all martyrs, detainees, injured and disabled persons and compensate them fairly.
    • Return displaced and internally- and externally-migrated people and resolve their situations.
    • Contribute with the government in reconstructing the infrastructure and public establishments affected by recent developments, and in funding urgent economic and social procedures.
      • All international and foreign aid shall be put under the jurisdiction of this Agency in coordination with donors. Appropriations of the Agency of Accountability and National Reconciliation shall be spent from the appropriations for this agency.
      • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad falls, demand the international community cancel all comprehensive sanctions imposed on Syria and its institutions and to assist the state in regaining funds of the authority that are kept abroad.
      • The transitional government shall work on establishing polices that would quickly address the following:
      • Re-launching the national economy at all levels
      • Inflation
      • Securing the essential commodities
      • Poverty  and increased poverty in areas afflicted by the incidents,
      • Monopolies

The first draft for this document has been drafted and approved by the preparatory committee to be presented to the Syrian Opposition Conference. It has been discussed in the first session of the conference. The Drafting Committee that was formed by the Conference introduced the amendments to the document based on the suggestions presented by the participants in the Conference. Then, the document was discussed, and traditional amendments were introduced and approved in the concluding session of the conference in the evening of July 3, 2012.

About Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson has worked in the field of asylum at the Swedish Migration Board specializing in the Middle East, as head of the migration section at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus and as a resettlement consultant at the UNHCR branch office in Damascus.
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