SOHR exclusive | Members of the Constitutional Committee: “We adhere to the committee as a fundamental right of Syrian people and a gate to political solution obstructed by the regime” • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | Members of the Constitutional Committee: “We adhere to the committee as a fundamental right of Syrian people and a gate to political solution obstructed by the regime”

The collapse of the seven rounds of negotiations, which the Syrian Constitutional Committee went into, has highlighted its bitter failure to do its main task of drafting a new constitution, spurring recriminations between regime and opposition of paralysing the talks and delaying earnest efforts to fulfil the main purpose of the committee.

“The talks of the seventh round of meetings of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva “saw many disagreements,” UN envoy Geir Pederson said. These agreements have been attributed to the lack of strong will to reach a solution and find and build on common points to narrow differences between the two parties.

What is the importance of this constitutional path for the opposition, and why do the regime opponents adhere to it?

In a SOHR interview with the opposition leader of the National Coordination Body (NCB), Mohsen Hazzam said “the Constitutional Committee is of particular importance to the opposition which reluctantly chose to sit with regime at the same discussion table, holding out hope that regime would handle this political path fairly and transparently to reach a solution putting an end to the Syrian crisis, especially since this political process is supported by the United Nations.”

The seven rounds of negotiations that lasted more than two years, since the announcement of the creation of the Constitutional Committee during Sochi Conference in 2018, are merely a waste of time and “a conspiracy” against the Syrians compounding their suffering and their bleeding wounds, as he said.

Mohsen Hazzam also accuses the delegation of Syrian government of not being serious in these talks and of obstructing all the rounds of Constitution Committee meetings and Geneva peace talks which ostensibly pave the way for a political solution in Syria with its numerous rounds of and hindering efforts to implement Geneva 1 declaration and UN Resolution No. 2254 since 2015. The Syrian regime is not persuaded by dealing with those who it describes as ‘terrorists’ and that it—the Al-Assad’s regime—has the legitimacy, being the regime which has been in power since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in 2011. Moreover, the regime sees that this legitimacy gives it preference over the opposition, and this policy has been the main reason leading to the current disastrous situation in Syria.”

“This reason is enough for the regime to hinder the work of the Constitutional Committee and abort all efforts by the international envoys, including Staffan de Mistura and Geir Pederson, who have also contributed to hindering the committee’s work and wasting time through offering a plethora of proposals with the aim of making all parties sit at the same negotiation table.”

Hazzam has stated that the Constitutional Committee was established following the failure of the political path of Geneva 1 Statement to implement the political settlement which aimed at replacing the current regime with a credible transitional government and work according to the four paths staged by de Mistura. Mr Hazzam added, “the other party which contributed to weakening the opposition and circumvented Geneva 1 Statement was the Russians, namely through the Sochi Conference. This conference has turned the attention away from the major paths and hindered the political path in Geneva and made it work to the advantage of the Syrian regime, and this confused the opposition during the previous rounds. One example, among many, was the imposition of passing amendments on some articles of the constitution of 2012, without changing any articles relating to the sovereign powers. This contravenes the tasks of the committee which has been supposed to work on drafting a new constitution in Syria to be agreed on by all segments of the Syrian society. This fulfilled the statement of the regime foreign minister, Walid Al-Muallem, who said ‘we will make them busy with details.’”

Commenting on consensus among the opposition bodies on the outcomes of the Sochi Conference, which they did not attend, Hazzam said, “the Syrian opposition did not attended the conference in order to secure its legitimacy given by the UN support. The Syrian opposition sees that the drafting of the constitution is a step paving the way to the desired political settlement and organise the state of vacuum that may take place during the stage of the political transition which is supposed to put an end to the rule of the regime. However, this opposition has been still meeting obstacles and has reached no tangible achievements regarding the demands of the Syrian Revolution which have been turned by some opposition bodies into a bargaining card or chip.”

Regarding the usefulness of the continuity of the rounds of the Constitutional Committee, Hazzam commented, “the Syrian regime has improved its position at the international and regional levels. Even its attempts to regain support of Arab countries confirm that this path is pointless, especially since the representative of the opposition in Constitutional Committee is unable to replace this path with any other paths or agendas that may lead to the desired results.”

Hazzam wondered about the ability of the opposition to accomplish this step, as some parties of the Syrian National Coalition, which is the largest platform of the negotiation committee, claim. He noted that the opposition itself to undertake the responsibility for a prompt solution, as Syrian people have tired of this situation.”

On the other hand, the member of the Constitutional Committee, Huda Serjawi has told SOHR, “the constitutional process is a part of the political settlement and the only gate to it. It is not just a reduction of the political solution. It was expected that the Syrian regime would hinder these efforts and any other political attempts, as it has been unwilling to reach a political settlement. This is a public battle and it has been to be crowned with victory in the wake of the chronic crises and global tension.”

Commenting on the political process, Mrs. Serjawi says, “the cessation of the political process several times has led to reaching international and regional agreements and decisions with further concessions, and it has also given the chance to other dialogues to be held away and separately from the UN ones. Such agreements may lead to military and security consensus which will be against the fundamentals of the Syrian Revolution.”

Huda Serjawi sees that the cessation of the political process in 2016 and 2017 did not spur the international community to adopt decisive measures and decisions regarding the human rights violations committed in Syria, mainly the issue of the release of detainees and disclosing the fate of the forcibly disappeared. So, the suspension of the Constitutional Committee’s work without plans to open other negotiations designed to implement the political settlement, which is based on the Resolution No. 2254, will risk sacrificing the interests of Syrian people, as she described. She added, “the work of the Constitutional Committee does not have to be suspended, and it (the committee) has to work with the allies of Syrian people on creating possible alternatives in the case that the committee fails to reach satisfying results.”

In an exclusive SOHR interview, the member of the Constitutional Committee, Hasan Al-Hariri stated that the fourth article of the international resolution stipulates a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations. He noted that the process of drafting a new constitution in Syria has been mentioned in the international resolution which the Syrians adhere to implementing, while several negotiation rounds have been held about the establishment of the ruling commission. However, the establishment of such commission has failed so far, because of the intransigence of the Syrian regime and its supporters, according to Al-Hariri.

Al-Hariri has also stressed the Syrian opposition sees that the Constitutional Committee is the people’s demand and right, saying “it is not wise to forego or abandon it freely for the favour of the regime, so the Syrian opposition is committed to this path and calls for opening other approaches in order to implement the international resolution.”

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