Participation of the Local Community in the Political and Constitutional Processes’’ Path Gaziantep Workshop

After many workshops held last week by the Stabilization Support Unit inside Syria /Azaz with the participation of the co-chairman and members of the Syrian Constitutional committee and attendance of many local institutions and bodies, the Stabilization Support Unit held a workshop in Gaziantep, with the participation of the co-chairman of the Constitutional Committee, Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra, Mr. Tariq Al-Kurdi (representing the opposition delegation in the Constitutional Committee) and Mr. Khaled Al-Helow and Mr. Mazen Gharibah (representatives of the Civil Society delegation in the Constitutional Committee) and attendance of some Jurists, human rights defenders, activists, representatives of civil society /local communities, Head of free Aleppo Provincial council and head of Assistance Coordination Unit.

The Workshop divided into two sessions:
The first session:
during which members of the opposition delegation spoke about the sequence of the political process that led to formation of the Constitutional Committee and provided an assessment about the three rounds that the Constitutional Committee went through till now.
The second session: during which the members of the civil society delegation spoke about their role in the third round, and about their views and aspirations from the political process

In the first session, Mr. Hadi Al-Bahra provided the attendees with an explanation about the four baskets of Staffan de Mistura, the constitutional committee’s relationship with those four baskets, whether the constitutional process cancels the rest of the baskets or changes their hierarchy, and whether the constitutional process is a dilution of Resolution 2254.
He affirmed that it is not possible to suffice with the constitution basket without the other baskets (Neutral and safe environment, Transitional Governing Body and Countering Terrorism), the process is a complementary process, so the constitution cannot be approved without a referendum that needs a neutral and safe environment.
He affirmed that the constitutional committee with its current form was formed based on the UN Security Council’s resolution 2254 with the aim of forming a Transitional Governing Body. The constitution to be approved, a constitutional referendum should be held, and this requires a safe and neutral environment, and this environment could be achieved by a transitional governing body.
Then he provided a detailed explanation about what happened in the third round – the proposals related to the national principles and national identity and the regime’s attempts to enter deep into the national characteristics promoted by the regime’s delegation which (the principles) are represented by the following from regime’s delegation point of view ;
The name of the state, the flag of the state, the national anthem, the national figures and the official language of the state but there were disagreements between the parties regarding those points.

He told that what the opposition delegation did was to delay the regime’s presentation regarding those points so not to take the large space in the discussion, and thus the opportunity was missed for them to raise the controversial points (that lead to loss of time) at the beginning of the meetings, so that the opposition and civil society delegations could present proposals that could serve as an entry of the constitution, and this is what the regime’s delegation tried to thwart.
Mr. Tariq Al-Kurdi the member of the opposition delegation in the constitutional committee talked about the legitimacy of the presidential election that the regime intends to hold in 2021, comparing it with the 2014 elections and also with the People’s Assembly election that took place in the current year saying ‘’ Those elections do not create a new legitimacy for the regime, the regime is working according to the current constitution, and the new constitution that is currently being written by the constitutional committee will cancel all of the above after its adoption.

Discussions took place about the timetable of the works of the constitutional committee and its feasibility considering the existence of an uninterested regime, Walid al-Muallem’s statements in his last press conference regarding the constitutional committee and about the ways to implement the constitution. The answers to them (the above mentioned points) were listed in the previous report that we prepared for the three workshops that we held in Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo within the same scope 2 days prior this workshop. The report of Azaz workshops is in the link below:

The Second Session:
Mr. Khaled El-Helow (member of the Civil Society delegation in the constitutional Committee) said that during the interruption of the constitutional committee rounds, the part of the Civil Society delegation (who are counted to the opposition) held intensive meetings almost on weekly basis internally and externally with other bodies and communities to prepare expectations – proposals about the constitutional principles and contents.
He said that the Civil Society delegation does not participate in determining the course of the sessions or the agenda, as it does not have a co-chairman, (unlike the opposition the and regime delegations who have co-chairmen), as those who run the session and determine the schedule of the sessions are the co-chairmen.

Then Mr. Mazen Gharibah (member of the Civil Society delegation in the constitutional Committee) spoke about the strategy adopted by the regime during the third round, which is neither to obstruct and nor to succeed the process, so it engaged in positive discussions without aiming to reach outcomes by proposing/raising very broad issues such as national identity.
In this context, Mr. Mazen said that they as Civil Society delegation, went to the third round with two strategies, the first strategy, is the methodology of working with the Constitutional Committee itself and the other strategy, (our priority as Civil Society delegation), which is to talk about the detainees, the safe and dignified return of the IDPs and refugees, and necessity of achieving accountability.

He affirmed that they always try to raise those points in high coordination with the opposition delegation, emphasizing that it is not possible to talk about the future without talking about the priorities of the Syrians, the national identity is a fundamental topic, but after nine years it is no longer the priority for the Syrians. The priorities are the detainees, the safe and dignified return of IDPs/refugees and achieving justice and accountability.
The attendees asked some questions to the representatives of the Civil Society delegation and the opposition delegation the mechanism of voting and adoption of contents, the references of the delegations in the constitutional committee and about possibility of increasing number of such workshops with local community.
Mr. Mazen emphasized that the process of adopting the constitutional contents certainly will not be easy through getting most of votes, it is a very difficult process and requires negotiation process to reach consensus; nothing/no result could be achieved unless there is consensus. And there may not be political polarizations, as the issue of the constitution is not only the issue of the opposition and the regime, because there is a society that may reject or agree to some of the contents according to the intellectual, religious, national and other considerations.

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