The Voice of the Local Community in the Constitution, The Second Workshop

Withing the Scope of its ‘’the local community voice in the Constitution’’ project Stabilization Support Unit (the Stabilization Committee), is continuing to hold workshops in presence of the Constitutional Committee members. The second workshop was held on 24th December 2019 in Azaz city, in presence of the co-chairman of the Constitutional Committee Mr. Hadi Albahra, Member of the Constitutional Committee Civil Society representative Mrs. Huda Sarjawi, members of ‘’the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces’’, Free Aleppo provincial Council, local councils, and military factions, organizations and revolutionary and political bodies from across the northern Syria.
The workshop started with a Stand in Solidarity with the people of Idlib and Maarat al-Numan as they are subjected to a brutal military attack, shelling, and mass displacement.

Objective of the Workshop:

To talk about the constitution and the constitutional committee, the four baskets of Staffan de Mistura, the political solution in Syria and the role of the constitutional committee and about results of the surveys filled out by the participants of the first workshop of this project.

The workshop consisted of five sections:
The First Section:

In this section, there was an introductory word for Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra on the Constitutional Committee, its works and roles, the two Geneva rounds, the political paths that took them from Geneva to Vienna to Resolution 2254, military solutions, Astana and Sochi paths, and the formation of the Constitutional Committee.

The Second Section:
Was about the situation in Idlib city.

The Third Section:
Presenting the results of the Survey that filled out by the participants of the first workshop of the project and discussing about them.

The Fourth Section:

Was about the four baskets of De Mistura and their sequence.

The Fifth Section:
was about what the local community want from the constitutional committee and what does the constitutional committee want from the local community.

The course of the workshop:
The facilitator welcomed the attendees; Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra, Co-chair of the Constitutional Committee and Mrs. Huda Sarjawi member of the Constitutional Committee. Then he spoke about the first workshop of the project (discussions took place in it and its activities), he noted that the Constitutional Committee is one of the solutions to the situation in Syria. And said that the objective of the workshop is to talk about the constitution and the constitutional committee, the four baskets of Staffan de Mistura. He stressed the necessity of hearing from and dialogue with the Constitutional Committee members in order for the people to be a partner in this process. The constitutional committee drafts the constitution – by making the People a partner in the process, all citizens will have a role in writing it. So, it is important to stay on one track with the Constitutional Committee, by continuing with such workshops .

After the Speech of the facilitator an introductory video about the constitution, its importance and how it is formed was shown: Click the picture below to watch the video with English Subtitles:

The First Section:

Mr. Hadi Albahra talked about the constitutional committee, its works and roles, the 2 Geneva rounds and the political paths that took them from Geneva to Vienna, to UN Security Council’s resolution no 2254, the military solutions, Astana and Sochi paths, formation of the constitutional Committee – between what was proposed in Sochi and what the opposition was able to achieve in the current situation. And he stressed the need to make lessens from the mistakes of the past, especially from what happened in between 2015 – 2017, (when the opposition stopped to pursue negotiations and dealing with the arrogance of the Regime). As a result, the regime was given cover and justification to continue killing and destroying, and due to that Aleppo and the rest of the areas were fallen. And, he emphasized the everyone should be convinced that the success of the revolution is not in the military solution. He said that the constitution that will be worked out will be a reassuring base for the international community, which fears what will be the future of the governance in Syria after the regime is gone.
That is why he stressed the importance of developing a new constitution that guarantees the rights of citizens instead of the current one, which gave the head of the regime control over everything without accountability. He also stressed that the most important problem that must be addressed is the problem of the current constitution of Syria, which legalized the Regime under a law and gave it the chance to kill, displace and destroy the people. The regime protects itself by the constitution that it created, because it is a constitution that places all powers in the hands of the president who has the command and the prohibition.
He also stressed that Mr. Pedersen’s recent briefing came to put pressure on the international community so they put pressure on the delegation of the regime, because if there is no actual pressure on the regime delegation the solution that is represented by the Constitutional Committee can fail.
Mrs. Huda Sarjawi in her speech, affirmed that the constitution is one of the most important problems, despite the bitter reality that we live in. The regime has created a constitution in which it legitimized its and the security services’ corruption. The international community and countries with interests in Syria saw in the constitution and changing it a solution that could be worked on. That is why it is one of our important interests to participate in this process and achieve the best we can for the people of Syria. The United States, strongly supports the process of the Constitutional Committee, especially after the passage of the Caesar Law, we must understand this and take advantage of all decisions that are in the interest of the revolution. Russia also supports because its interests are compatible with the success of the work of the Constitutional Committee. The political process is still ongoing and it is an important opportunity to engage in and strive to achieve what we could not achieve during previous years, and the lessons learned from the previous experiences require us to continue this process.
Then the attendees asked their questions; most important of those questions were;
The First Question: Who determined that our problem is the constitution, the international committee has imposed the constitutional committee?
Mr. Hadi Albahra has answered saying, our problem is the Constitution, because the current constitution gave the regime all means to suppress the people without and accountability. We are now in front of a political process and there is a high possibility of success, do we stop or go on? We have to go on because there are international decisions in favor of us and stopping and withdrawal from the political process will be the biggest gift that we can give to the Regime.
The Second Question: The street believes that the Constitutional Committee gave legitimacy to the regime by sitting down with it.
Mr. Hadi Albahra has answered saying, The Constitutional Committee did not legitimize the existence of the Regime, we are two conflicting parties and when one party sits with the other it doesn’t mean that it legitimizes the other. The international decisions are decisive – the international community says the regime has lost the political legitimacy, but it still represents Syria legally through the current constitution.
The Third Question: Do you think that it will take too long time to reach the stage of constitutional referendum?
There is no specific timeline for the work of the Constitutional Committee. We cannot guarantee that we agree and reach a political solution with the regime, but we must continue in the political process to achieve real gains for the Syrian people. The political battle is just as important as the military battles and the constitutional committee is the key to activate the baskets of de Mistura (Transitional Governing Body – The Constitution – Free and Fair Elections – Security and Combating Terrorism).
And then discussions and talks about the questions and answers took place.

The Second Section:
It was about the situation in Idlib, to what extent and how it will affect the political solution in Syria, and what will be its effect on the work of the Constitutional Committee. Whether there are any solutions that can be taken by the constitutional committee, the Syrian negotiation commission, or even the local community. Whether the regime is aiming by its attacks on Idlib to force / push the opposition delegation in the Constitutional Committee to make the decision of withdraw from the Constitutional Committee. Whether the scenario of withdrawal from the Constitutional Committee beneficial or harmful to the Syrian people. And discussions on these topics took place. Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra emphasized that the biggest mistake would be the withdrawal of the opposition delegation from the Constitutional Committee because the regime is trying hard to thwart / fail the work of the Constitutional Committee through the withdrawal of the representatives of the opposition and the revolution, not the other way
around (the regime’s withdrawal). The Regime is under pressure from Russia to continue in the Constitutional Committee and the withdrawal of the opposition delegation would be as the implementation of the regime’s desire.
And he added saying that the Syrian Negotiation Commission corresponded to the Group of Friends of the Syrian People and held it responsible and that the pressures on the regime are continuing until now .

The Third Section:
Presenting the results of the Survey that filled out by the participants of the first workshop of the project and discussing about them. The results and analyses of the individual and group Surveys were presented and discussed. And it was agreed that the survey be filled by a larger segment of the community to get their answers as well.

The Fourth Section:
Was about the four baskets of de Mistura and their sequence, and whether the Constitutional Committee mean the abolition of the rest of the baskets. How can the constitutional committee succeed if all the baskets are not applied?
Mr. Hadi Al-bahra talked about the work of the Constitutional Committee and that it will go through two stages.
The first stage: where the parties will negotiate all the related topics, such as negotiating the form of government (presidential or parliamentary), religion of the president, etc.. This stage ends with the final agreement on the
constitution.
The second stage: The constitutional referendum stage.
Mr. Hadi has confirmed that in the negotiation stage, the sequence does not matter. But in the implementation stage, the sequence will in accordance with Resolution 2254, which is as follows: (Transitional Governing Body – The Constitution – Free and Fair Elections – Security and Combating Terrorism). After the constitution is drafted, a constitutional referendum must be done, and this needs a safe and neutral environment, and a safe and neutral environment needs a transitional governing body and then a referendum. Mr. Hadi emphasized that the Constitutional Committee was given the powers of the General Assembly and is in a position higher than that of the People’s Assembly and it has become a tool for legal and constitutional transition with the agreement of the international community.

The Fifth Section:
Was about what does the local community want from the constitutional committee and what does the constitutional committee wants from the local community and there were a bunch of recommendations from both parties, the most important of which;

  • Expanding the geographical scope of the workshops to include larger areas such as Al Bab, Marea, Akhtarin and Afrin
  • Raising awareness about the constitutional process in the media by the constitutional committee – Here, Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra emphasized that the regime rejected any means of communication with the community and that they as opposition delegation, created pages on Facebook and Twitter)
  • To establish a TV channel to reach all segments of the Syrian society
  • to demand the constitutional committee to attend meetings and workshops inside Syria after each round of meeting in Geneva to inform the local community about what happened in the Geneva meetings and get opinions of the local community

Our video for The Workshop :

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