The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria – NCB welcomes the Russian-America concordance to hold the Geneva Conference 2, and announces that it will accept the invitation to participate in the conference, especially as it is crucial for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, as opposed to the futile, absurd and destructive military/security option, and it is compatible with the NCB’s vision for a negotiated political solution in Syria.
The NCB were the first to call for such a conference in the concluding statement of the National Syria Salvation Conference which was held in Damascus by NCB in partnership with other political opposition forces inside Syria, which states:
“The Conference calls upon Mr.Lakhdar Ibrahimi, the envoy of both the UN and Arab Initiative, to convene an international conference on Syria with the participation of all concerned parties. Its mission should be to research the ideal political means by which to begin a transitional phase that would guarantee a safe transition to a pluralistic democratic system.”
The NCB is aware of the size of the obstacles and associating complications resulting from the armed conflict on the country, and the foreign intervention, and the nature of the authoritarian regime. The NCB announces its commitment to exert whatever it can for the success of the Conference because this relates to the fate of Syria and its people, and the future for the coming generations.
In this area the NCB provides a detailed memorandum to the stakeholders about its vision for a negotiated political solution in Syria.
First: The Aims
The beginning of the negotiation process between the regime and the opposition, under the auspices of the international and Arab community, and under the supervision of the UN and Arab League envoy, Mr. Lakhdar al-Ibrahimi requires above all a clear position announcing that the Conference is committed to the following matters:
1. The aim of the political negotiation process is the transition to a pluralistic and democratic system on the basis of the principles of equal citizenship, rights, and duties for all Syrians, both women and men, regardless of their ethnic, religious, doctrinal and other civil identities before nationality.
2. The emphasis on the unity of Syria’s land and people, and on the full sovereignty of the Syrian State over its land.
Second: Essential commitment
At the beginning of the conference all interested parties should announce their commitment to the following:
A. All Parties pledge their commitment to the results of the negotiations, and for this to be ensured by the States sponsoring the Conference through working for its adoption internationally, regionally and by Arabs and to be issued by a binding resolution from the UN Security Council, Chapter VI
B. The approval of the Geneva 1 Communiqué and the Kofi Annan plan, and the new Russian-American consensus which is the basis of the Geneva 2 Conference.
C. The referral of all issues that are not agreed on at the beginning to a Committee that will bring together a convergence of views. If it fails in its efforts the disputed issues will be referred to an agreed neutral international Jury Committee, and in exceptional and special cases resorting to taking the opinion of the people in favourable conditions that ensure the integrity of a referendum.
D. To agree on timetables for the negotiations, and the implementation of agreements
Third: Procedural matters
There are procedural matters that are helpful for the success of the negotiation process that should be agreed on, as follows:
1. Agreement on the venue of the Conference, the number of participants, the dates and duration of the Conference. The NCB considers that the Conference should be held at the earliest possible opportunity and not later than June, and continues in session until all outstanding issues have been completed in relation to the negotiation process.
2. The NCB prefers to conduct negotiations, beginning with essential issues that are the least problematic, such as the Constitution and complementary rules, rules regarding the media and the parties, and the local, legislative and Presidential elections, and others; and to refer this for immediate preparation to specialist Committees that include legal experts, and representatives from all opposition factions and from the Regime, and also advisors from States participating in the Conference especially the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
3. Agreement on the nature the Constitutional system, noting that NCB is decisively biased towards a republican, democratic, Parliamentary system.
4. Accelerate the process of separation of the Baath Party from all State institutions including the Army and security agencies, trade unions and others, within a period not exceeding three months.
5. The abolition of all exceptional laws that handcuff liberties; and allowing political and media activity and communication with the public without any restrictions, until such special laws are in place.
Fourth: Procedures to create a favourable climate for negotiations
1. The declaration of a ceasefire in all the land of the Syrian Arab Republic, from all parties;
2. Beginning the release of detainees and those who have been kidnapped due to the events of the revolution, and the issuing of a blanket amnesty for all those who are wanted by the State;
3. Allowing the return of all political citizens residing abroad for various reasons without any security, legal or political accountability;
4. Securing a dignified and decent return to all Syrian migrants, to their homes and workplace;
5. Securing humanitarian relief assistance for all Syrians victims in need;
6. Reparation, justice and rehabilitation for all those who were dismissed from their employment and stripped of their civil rights under the provisions issued by the special courts for political reasons, and financial settlements.
Fifth: International priority procedures
Because of the complexities of the Syrian crisis, and regional and international interventions, especially the complications resulting from armed conflict in the country, and the fact that the cessation of military hostilities is difficult to achieve by self-will of the combatants, it must take the following actions:
1. Obtain international consensus on the basis of the Geneva communiqué after unequivocal interpretation of its terms by the issuing States, signed by the quartet of regional countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran), and after that the Security Council should issue a binding resolution under Chapter VI.
2. The Security Council should issue an order for a ceasefire in all the Syrian geography, including a monitoring and verification mechanism, and for this purpose it must form international peace-keeping forces with sufficient numbers and armaments that come from other countries that do not participate directly in the Syrian crisis, and the use of all technological means of supervision to verify the commitment of all parties to the ceasefire.
3. It may be appropriate to start returning the army to their barracks as soon as possible, and assembling the armed people in special camps outside residential areas, pending agreement about restructuring the army and security forces.
4. In order to strengthen the cease-fire, the Security Council should issue a resolution banning the supply of arms to all parties during the transitional phase, and the same resolution state the lifting of that ban on the Syrian State immediately at the end of the transitional phase and the establishment of the elected Constitutional authorities.
Sixth: In the transitional phase
1. The political process begins with the convening of a national conference under the auspices of suitable international and Arab powers, in which the participants include triple strands, from the Regime, the opposition, and the civil society organisations and independent national figures on which the Regime and the Opposition agree.
Its mission will be to develop a national charter for Syria’s future, and a temporary constitutional declaration, and to agree on the arrangements for the transitional phase to a democratic system.
The Council can play a legislative role during the transitional phase.
2. In the light of the outcome of the national Conference a transitional Government will be formed endowed with the full authority that is granted to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minster’s Council of Ministers in the existing Constitution so as to lead the transitional phase. This Government must be headed up by an agreed opposition figure.
3. The formation of the Government must be from the triple political strands: from the Regime, the opposition in all its various configurations, and national figures that are agreed on, after agreeing on the number of ministerial portfolios. It is important to create a governmental consultative team of Syrian people, representatives of the State sponsors of the Conference to help the Government in its work, and to solve the procedural and executive issues that could hinder the work.
4. The formation of a temporary military Council including officers from the Syrian Army, and the Free Army will be subject to the transitional Government, and confined to its mission in the leadership of the military institutions and security services during the transition phase; and to working on their reorganization so that it becomes a professional national institution headed by a civil Minister for Defence who will represent it in the Council of Ministers and be subject to it; and to helping ensure security during the transitional phase, and in all cases, the army and security services should be excluded from political and ideological conflict.
5. The transitional Government begins its work by announcing the laying down of the current Constitution and the governing bodies, and the abolition of all exceptional laws, and the separation of the Baath party from all the organs of the State, including the army and security forces.
6. There will be the establishment of independence of the Judiciary from the Executive and the Legislature, by appending the judicial body to the Supreme Judicial Council, and also mandating it during the transition phase with the functions of transitional justice.
7. One of the urgent tasks of the Government is to implement the principles contained in the above section, ‘Fourth’: ‘Procedures to create a favourable climate for negotiations’ of this Memorandum, and to initiate restructuring of the security services and the organization of its work in accordance with the Constitutional principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
8. An effective police force should be established, with sufficient numbers and equipment to impose respect for the law, and to ensure the requirements of transitional justice.
9. The Government needs to embark on securing procedures for a political settlement and national reconciliation in the light of the principles of transitional justice and the implementation of key practical steps in the process to achieve the independence of the Judicial Authority.
10. The Government will begin the process of reconstruction and supply what is required and work on the establishment of an international fund for this purpose, to which donor countries make real financial commitments.
11. The transitional phase will end with general elections: local, legislative and Presidential elections, that will be transparent and fair, and under international monitoring; and the formation of institutions of governance in the light of the results. We in the NCB stress that the constitutional system should be a Parliamentary system, where Parliament is elected on a proportionate basis, and that Syria is one constituency. Among the constitutional functions of the Parliament is to elect a President who can stay for two sessions each lasting four years only.
12. The NCB prefers that the electoral cycle determines all levels of power for just four years.
Eighth: The general principles of the Constitution
In light of the ‘Charter for Dignity and Rights’ adopted by the NCB Conference in Halbun on 17 September 2011, and the ‘National Covenant’ for Syria document which was adopted by the Syrian oppositions at a meeting in Cairo in July 2012, NCB suggests the following general principles as a guide in the preparation of the Constitutional Declaration for the transitional phase, as well as the new Syrian Constitution:
1. The Syrian people are one people, whose fabric was established through history on the full equality of citizenship regardless of origin, colour, gender, language, ethnicity, political opinion, religion, or sect, on the basis of a comprehensive national understanding, and in which religion is for God, and the homeland is for all. No one may impose a religion or a belief on anyone, or prevent anyone from the freedom to choose his creed and practice. Women are equal with men, and it is not permissible to deprive them of any of the rights they have gained. Any citizen has the right to occupy any position in the state, including the post of President of the Republic, regardless of religion or ethnicity whether male or female. Thus, the Syrian people are to be proud of the roots of their civilization and the rich diversity in their culture and religion that forms an intimate part of their culture and society, and build their own State on the basis of unity in diversity, with the participation of various components without any discrimination or exclusion.
2. The Syrian people are free and sovereign over their land and state, which constitutes a single, indivisible political entity, and may not surrender any inch of it, and have the right to struggle to restore the occupied territories, particularly the occupied Golan Heights, by all legitimate means.
3. The Syrian people is the source of legitimacy for all levels of government in a democratic republican parliamentary system, exercised through periodic and genuine elections regulated by law.
4. The human being is the means of the relationship between the sons of one country, which is based on the commitment to international covenants and conventions of human rights, any economic, social civil and political, cultural and environmental rights devoted to humankind, and the enjoyment of these rights is ensured to citizens and residents alike.
5. The individual, public and group freedoms form the basis of the relationship between the sons of one country. The State shall guarantee public freedoms, including freedom of access to information and the media, and the formation of non-governmental associations, trade unions and political parties, freedom of belief and worship, and freedom to demonstrate and strike peacefully, and to establish rules to safeguard these freedoms from the dominance of the world of money or political power. The Syrian State guarantees respect for the diversity of society, and the beliefs, interests and peculiarities of each spectra of the Syrian people, and recognizes the cultural and political rights of each of its components and its aspiration for development and care.
6. The Constitution guarantees the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, and seeks to create a legislative and legal climate that provides political, economic and social empowerment in accordance with all relevant international conventions in harmony with the culture of the community.
7. The Syrian State recognizes the existence of a Kurdish nationalist component within its components, and their legitimate national rights, according to international covenants and conventions within the framework of the unity of the Syrian people and land. The Kurdish national presence in Syria is considered to be an integral part of the Syrian people. The State also acknowledges the existence of, and national rights of Assyrian people and Turkmen, and considers them an integral part of Syrian society.
8. Syria is an integral part of the Arab world, and is committed to the issues of the Arab nation and the rights of the Palestinian people. Syria looks forward to strengthening various forms of cooperation and unity with other Arab countries, while the Syrian State respects the cultural and social aspirations of all other nationalities that constitute the Syrian people: Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Turkmen and others.
9. The Syrian people is committed to supporting the Palestinian people and their right to create their own free independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital.
10. The Syrian people is linked to all other Islamic peoples that have common historical roots and human values based on divine messages.
11. Syria is part of the global system, and a founding member of the United Nations and its derivative organisations, and is therefore committed to its Charter, and seeks with other countries in the world to establish an international system that is far removed from all of the central conflicts, domination and occupation, a system based on balance in the relationship and mutual interests and shared responsibility in the face of challenges and dangers that threaten the security and peace of the world.
12. The institutions of governance in the Syrian State stand on the basis of periodic elections and a complete separation between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and on the principle of rotation of power through the secret, free and monitored vote, and respect for the results of elections decided by the ballot box whatever the result, that Syria forms one constituency based the proportional electoral system.
13. The new Constitution acknowledges the foundations of the democratic Parliamentary pluralistic civil system, and a modern and fair electoral system, guarantees the right of participation of all the intellectual and political currents, within the rules providing a broader representation of the people and the stability of the Parliamentary system, and accurately controls the financial resources, and the expenditure of political parties and political groups.
14. The Syrian army is a national institution that protects the country and maintains the independence and sovereignty over its territory, and takes care of national security and does not interfere in political life.
15. The State is dependent on the principle of administrative decentralization, so that the local administration is based on representative executive institutions to administer citizen services and development in the provinces and regions, in order to achieve sustainable and balanced development.
16. The State shall safeguard private property, which may not be seized except in the public interest within the law and in exchange for fair compensation, without it being re-allocated for self interests.
17. The State shall safeguard public money and public property for the benefit of the people, and its policies based on social justice and balanced sustainable development, and redistribution of income and wealth through the tax system amongst social groups and between regions, as well as to ensure the freedom of investment and economic initiative, equal opportunities and markets within controls that fight against monopoly and speculation, and protects the rights of workers and consumers.
18. The Syrian State is committed to remove all forms of poverty, discrimination and fighting against unemployment in order have full decent employment and fair wages, and to achieve justice in the distribution of national wealth, and to achieve balanced development and environmental protection, and provide basic services to every citizen: housing, zoning, and clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity, phone and internet, roads, public transport, qualitative education and rehabilitation, comprehensive health insurance, pensions and unemployment benefits, at prices commensurate with the standards of living.
19. The Syrian State commits to follow up Syrian issues, and to defend their rights in all countries of the world.
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