Syria: NPWJ and TDA organise a Workshop on Constitution-Building Processes

11 Jun, 2016 | Press Releases

Gaziantep, Turkey 9-11 June 2016
On 9-11 June 2016, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) in collaboration with The Day After (TDA) held a workshop on Constitution-Building and the Role of Civil Society Organisations in the Process, with an overall objective of launching a national campaign on the Constitution. The workshop took place in Gaziantep, Turkey, with the financial support of the European Commission, the Open Society Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The workshop brought together 15 key Syrian activists, human rights advocates and experts with the overall goal of building a better understanding on constitutionalism and on how civil society can contribute to achieve a comprehensive and inclusive constitution-building process.

UNSC Resolution 2254, unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 18 December 2015, represents the latest attempt by the international community to provide a comprehensive framework for a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political transition to end the conflict in Syria. UNSC Resolution 2254 states that “The Syrian people will decide the future of Syria”, expressing support for a Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations, which would establish “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months and set a schedule and process for the drafting of a new constitution. Despite this, few organisations representing the Syrian population have been involved in the ongoing peace-talks in Geneva, leading to the risk that – on the one hand – the root causes of the war and the call for freedom of the Syrian population will not be addressed; and, on the other hand, that Syrians will be denied their right to determine their future independently and democratically.

In this light, a Steering Committee has been formed consisting of 11 Syrian CSOs and other groups such as local councils who work on awareness raising, the transition process, are committed to human rights and the rights of women and have an ability to reach people inside Syria. NPWJ and TDA are facilitating the work of this Steering Committee and acting as advisors to the group, which plans to organise a nationwide campaign about the constitutional process for Syria, aimed at increasing knowledge about the process and conducting advocacy on key principles agreed on by the group such as human rights, gender equality, transparency and accountability.

The workshop looked at practical examples from countries that have recently witnessed political transition and constitutional reform and at the work that has already been done in this area by Syrian organisations. This facilitated a discussion on the role that the Steering Committee members would like to have in the constitutional process for Syria, predominantly in the form of awareness raising on legitimate mechanisms for a constitutional process such as inclusion, equality, accountability and transparency.

NPWJ has supported the Syrian civil society since the inception of the Syrian crisis and, since October 2013, has established an office in Gaziantep, Turkey, from where it conducts its Syria-related activities by empowering and increasing the capacity of Syrian CSOs and democratic activists to act and advocate for transitional justice and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.