Declaration on ‘Future Syrian Constitution’

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Above photo: From the Organization for World Peace.

Introduction: A second conference on the future constitution of Syria was held in Vienna, Austria from April 27 to 29, 2016. Since approx. three years the promoters of the international peace initiative www.peaceinsyria.org/ have mobilized a great number of peace activists and outstanding personalities of political and cultural life in Europe, Asia and Latin America – all of them deeply convinced that a military solution of the Syrian conflict is not possible and the bloodshed has to be stopped.

Gathering around the need for a POLITICAL DIALOG the promoters of this initiative went on different occasions to Damascus, Beirut, Istanbul, Qamishli and Aleppo in order to contact the main political actors from each side:

First a high ranking delegation consisting of 13 personalities from 9 different countries of Europe and Latin America visited Damascus in June, 2013 proposing to the government and the opposition there to initiate in the near future a POLITICAL DIALOG among representatives of the Syrian civil society.

Then a delegation of European journalists went first to Aleppo and then to the Hasaka province of Syria, in order to talk with the political forces on the ground.

And finally our international initiative invited about 30 representatives of the Syrian civil society covering the whole political spectrum to an ALL SYRIAN CONSULTATION ON PEACE IN SYRIA to the AUSTRIAN STUDY CENTER FOR PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION in Stadt Schlaining in the Southern part of Austria (approx. 100km South of Vienna).

As a result of these discussions the Syrian participants concluded their deliberations with a common declaration which highlighted the need for an immediate cease fire, the expulsion of all foreign fighters and the constitution of a NETWORK ON PEACE IN SYRIA as well as an ALL SYRIAN PEACE ASSEMBLY inside the country. Half a year later these decisions have been ratified by a meeting of a working group of the above mentioned network in Vienna, Austria, where important civil society actors from Latakia, Aleppo and Quamishli declared that they would promote PEACE ASSEMBLIES on a regional level.

Finally the initiative held a public meeting of the representatives of the main opposition forces at the World Social Forum in Tunis on March 28th, 2015 where it decided to call for different peace assemblies on the local level. Furthermore our international peace initiative www.peaceinsyria.org decided to send a fact finding mission of five independent journalists to the area of Hasaka who came up, on October 15th, 2015 with an extensive report. Whilst all these events, meetings and missions were taking place on the level of the international and Syrian civil society the expansion of the so called Islamic State (Daesh), the explosion of terrorist attacks in Tunis and Paris and the sudden avalanche of Syrian refugees towards European countries motivated the foreign stakeholders in the Syrian conflict – particularly Russia, the United States of America, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan – to follow up, under the auspices of the United Nations, the peace process of GENEVA II which had been abandoned for more than a year. The conferences in Vienna and New York towards the end of 2015 are giving some hope for a peaceful transition through negotiations of the conflicting forces in and on Syria.

Second All Syrian Consultation: on the future constitution of Syria

It is the outspoken objective of our initiative to support this peace process through helping to create the conditions among the Syrian social, political and religious actors by establishing a consensus on the future constitution of Syria. This constitution should reflect the structure of a democratic, interreligious and multicultural State of Syria, where equality and social justice are the guiding principles for its economic and social conviviality.

The All Syrian international Network www.peaceinsyria.org therefore proposes to hold a conference on the FUTURE CONSTITUTION OF SYRIA from April 27th to 29st, 2016 in Vienna and/or the Peace castle of Schlaining, Austria.

The participants in the Conference

According to the objective of the initiative only those persons are going to be invited who – independently from their political orientation, religious belief and ethnic or geographical origin – share the conviction that this war must stop as soon as possible proposing concrete steps to diminish the daily bloodshed and the proliferation of violence throughout the country. The participants come from different parts of the country and do represent the most important traditional and new political entities, religious confessions, ethnicities, local councils and women’s organisations. All together they reflect the different sectors of the Syrian civil society. Following the request of the participants in our Network the conference will be attended also by some international experts and observers from countries who are not directly involved in the conflict like Austria, Norway, Greece, Mexico and Nicaragua.

The program of the Conference

I. Proposals to stop the war and the role of civil society

The continuation of the ongoing war has not only led to an unbearable humanitarian catastrophe, but also to an increasing segmentation (sectarianism) of the Syrian Civil Society. Therefore the first Part of the Conference will deal, on the base of the Declaration of Schlaining, with the question: What can the Syrian civil society do to stop the bloodshed and to promote cease fires on different levels (local, regional, national and international)?

II. Outlines of the guiding principles of a future Constitution and its process

Starting with a reflection on different Syrian constitutions of the past the conference is going to work out, through different working groups, a general outline of the guiding principles of a future constitution and its process, based on the paradigm of mutual respect, solidarity and conviviality of the different components of the Syrian civil society.

III. Lessons to learn from experiences of other countries

Based on the first results of the discussions on the principles of a New Syrian Constitution (NSC) the participants will be confronted with a series of reports from countries in Latin America (Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela) and in Arab countries like Tunesia which have already undergone a successful constitutional process. A particular attention will be given to the right of the people to self-determination and the protection of their cultural rights.

IV. The experiences of grass roots democracies in the territories under the control of different fractions of Syrian opposition

Taking into account the different experiences that have developed during the war the discussion will concentrate on the theory and practice of self-governance on a local and regional level and their relationship towards Syria as a National State.

V. The institutional framework of the New Syrian State

How could the different components of the Syrian civil and political society be represented in the frame work of a democratic, interreligious and multicultural system? Or put the other way round: How can a future constitution of Syrian best guarantee a democratic and intercultural conviviality of the different sectors of the Syrian society? This discussion will be led in a series of working groups which reflect the components present in the Conference.

VI. Steps to be taken towards a constitutional process in- and outside Syria

One of the first steps would be the issuing of a common declaration as a result of this Conference. Another step could be the organisation of a much larger Assembly in Athens, Greece in order to get a broader acceptance of the milestones of a constitutional process elaborated during this conference. It goes without saying that the concrete time table will depend a lot on the result of the peace negotiations which are taking place by the International Community of States under the auspices of the United Nations.

For the Preparatory Committee of the International Initiative www.peaceinsyria.org:

Leo Gabriel
Wilhelm Langthaler
Evangelis Pissias
Fernando Romero-Forsthuber

FINAL DECLARATION OF THE CONFERENCE ON A “FUTURE SYRIAN CONSTITUTION”

– Final Declaration (Arabic – برنامج المؤتمر)

By invitation of the “International Peace Initiative for Syria – www.peaceinsyria.org”, Syrian personalities – politicians, jurists and activists of the civil society – reflecting diverse political streams from different Syrian regions and constituents came together to deliberate on a set of constitutional principles. The conference aimed to be a contribution to the endeavor of drafting the constitution for a future Syria in an effort to achieve a consensus between the different sectors of the Syrian society.

The participants of the conference agreed on the following recommendations, which reflect their points of view:

  1. Syria is a democratic non-sectarian State, built on the principles of full and equal citizenship as well as on political pluralism and decentralization, thus distributing power between the center and other localities within the unity of the Syrian territory.
  2. The Syrian State commits to maintain itself completely neutral towards all religions and ethnicities. Furthermore, the State respects all faiths and does not discriminate citizens, women and men, for reasons of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, confession, faith, wealth or status.
  3. To establish a separation of legislative, executive and judicial power and to guarantee the independence of the judiciary system.
  4. All citizens, women and men, have the right to assume and hold public office and posts, based on standards of qualification.
  5. The Syrian people are ethnically, religiously[1] and culturally diverse, thus living in harmony and working for common interest.
  6. The constitution guarantees equal national rights for all ethnical components reflecting the spectrum of the Syrian people[2] according to international conventions and agreements.
  7. The freedom of the Syrian people should be safeguarded in accordance with the International Laws of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; in addition to all other respective international treaties.
  8. The constitution guarantees women’s rights to full and equal citizenship. The State commits itself to enable women to participate in the public political, economic and social life. Furthermore, the State commits to promoting women to decision-making positions. Women will be represented in all appointed and elected bodies by a ratio from at least 30% until equity. The State also guarantees women the right to convey their citizenship to their husbands and children, in addition to safeguarding the rights of children according to international conventions.


Signed by:

Abdelkader EL KETTANI (Islamic Thinker & Writer)
Ahmad AL-ROMOH (Islamic Writer)
Ahmed TOMA ALKHEDER (Temporary Government)
Ali RAHMOUN (Maan Movement)
Amir ZAIDAN (Syrian National Association)
Khaled ISSA (PYD)
Aref DALILA (NCC)
Ayham TAHAN (Intellectual)
Bassam ISHAK (Syriac National Council)
Fadwa KEILANI (Media Expert)
Faiq HWAJEH (Expert in Constitutional Law)
Fouad EILIA (Damascus Declaration)
Hawas SADOUN (Kurdish Reformation Movement)
Ismail YASIN (Islamic Expert)
Karam DAWLI (Assyrian Democratic Organisation)
Majdoleen HASSAN (Consulting Council of de Mistura-Commission)
Mesgin JOSEF (Board of Syrian Yazidi Council)
Nobhar MOUSTAFA ( Star Congress)
Riad DRAR (Isamic Resercher)
Rona EID (Lawyer and Human Rights Activist)
Salim KHEIRBEK (Politician and Human rights activists)
Senam MOHAMMAD (Rojava)
Sheruan HASSAN (Syrian Democratic Council)
Talal HAEK (Labor Communist Party)

[1] Religious diversity in Syria refers to the following religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Yezidism.
[2] Ethnical components of the Syrian society refer to Arabs, Kurds, Syriac Assyrians as well as Syrian Turkmens, Armenians and Circassians.