Towards an Independent and Effective role for Syrian Civil Society in the Peace Process
We, the undersigned Syrian civil society organisations, groups and figures, with the aim of realising an inclusive, sustainable and dignified solution for the Syrian conflict, demand the international actors involved in the preparation for Geneva 2 ensure an effective participation for the Syrian Civil Society in Geneva 2 as an independent body. It should be a body that does not participate as a part of any negotiating party, and one that does not aim to negotiate over power but to play the following roles:
1- The role of mediator between the two polarised negotiating political parties.
2- The role of observer:
A. Observing the process of the negotiations and providing the negotiation track with any matter that requires an independent actor such as the local needs and priorities of the communities and human rights related issues.
B. Observing the implementation of the agreements reached in the negotiations through an observing committee formed from civil society organisations.
3- The role of potential partner in executing some of the outcomes of the negotiations, especially in matters requiring social work and political independence, such as needs assessment, delivering human aid, building civil peace and national reconciliation, meditating local ceasefires tailored to respond to the specifics of each area.
To achieve this we propose the following mechanism for civil society participation:
1- Forming a civil society team from consensus figures and representatives from the committees formed at the UN Women conference for Syrian Women which was held in Geneva – January 2014.
2- Assuring political independence of this team, by acquiring its members to state that they will refrain from assuming any political position throughout the negotiation process
3- Forming an “operation room” for Syrian civil society supervised by UN, in which the civil society team take part and divide the role of its members to observer, mediators and experts team. The experts’ team should include experts in gender issues, human rights and legal matters.
4- Allowing the presence of the Syrian observer team in the negotiations, without giving it the authority to negotiating over political power.
5- The observers’ team consult the experts team in any matters that need specific expertise such as gender, law or human rights.
6- The Syrian mediator team can assist in resolving any conflicts that require the intervention of an independent Syrian party.
Our motivations for these requests are:
1- The strong polarisation in views among the negotiating parties, which calls for an independent third body able to overcome this polarization and drive the parties towards consensus.
2- The need to protect Syrian civil society from deep political division and maintaining its role as the body that is most able to provide a common ground to overcome the deep divisions
3- Benefiting from the participation of civil society as a genuine indicator that has the potential to determine the chances of success and viability of the political process and the sustainability of its outcome. This is because the closeness of the civil society organizations to the Syrian society increases its ability of determining the efficacy and sufficiency of the output of the process and its ability to realize sustainable peace and stability in Syria.
4- The need for executive social lever that enjoys influence in Syrian society and that enjoys trust and credibility in the community and an ability to play the role of inside mediator from within the social fabric of Syrian society.
5- Emphasizing the role of the Syrian people in the making of any potential solution as a corner stone in the process of democratic peaceful transition.