Peoples of Democracy, or one Syrian people! The Social Contract for the Democratic Self-Administration of North and East Syria
- updated: January 15, 2024
Recently, the Self-Administration issued the modified version of the social contract, having previously issued its first version in 2014, and it has undergone more than one modification. It declared the modified version on December 13 of the current year 2023.
After reviewing its articles with a critical lens, the most notable observations can be summarised as follows:
- This social contract came in the form of a constitution for the Self-Administration region in North and East Syria, as stated in Article 1 of the fundamental principles. As mentioned in the introduction, it is to be the “guarantee for freedom, peace, and unity among Syrians.”
It became clear to us that a Syrian team crafted a social contract for all of Syria from a unilateral perspective. It is a social contract that is not considered temporary but is subject to amendment if an agreement is reached on a democratic constitution in Syria, as stated in Article 133. However, it should be noted that the reliance on amendment cannot be considered temporary.
The Syrian Women’s Political Movement believes that any such team, regardless of who it may be, does not have the right to impose a social contract as a constitution without consulting the views of all elements within the Syrian people. Additionally, even though we understand the necessity for the authorities in the current situation in Syria to establish administrative and legal operational regulations to manage the daily lives of the region’s residents until Syria reaches a comprehensive political solution in accordance with Resolution 2254 and international decisions and relevant agreements, we realize the danger of this authority unilaterally issuing a binding contract, considering it a guarantee for all Syrians, imposing it on them, and obligating everyone to abide by it. Perhaps the situation would be less burdensome if it were considered temporary, as explicitly mentioned in one of its articles, Article 134, which forms the entirety of the contract’s provisions.
- The contract adopted confederalism as the form of governance in Syria’s future. In doing so, it imposed its vision on the Syrians. Moreover, it did not regard the Self-Administration region as a province within a larger confederation called Syria. Instead, it viewed the North and East Syria region as a complete confederation with its center and provinces, without any consideration for its Syrian extension. The contract did not confirm that the concerned region is part of Syria, except in Article 5 of the principles.
- Syria is suffering from the repercussions of a long and bitter conflict since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, a result of prolonged dictatorial rule. Currently, Syria needs to build a unified national Syrian identity. The use of the term “democratic peoples” instead of the diverse and rich Syrian people, with all its ethnic and religious diversity, deepens existing divisions. A unified state cannot be built without a people possessing a national identity.
- The contract used the expression “rejecting racism,” as stated in the introduction, instead of discussing equal citizenship for everyone. It also used the terms “sons and daughters” when referring to citizens, thereby placing them at a lower rank. The contract did not clarify who these “fathers” are.
- The contract emphasized the concept of martyrdom and sanctified it in Article 10, specifically in relation to the oath. It states, “(I swear by Almighty God, and pledge to the martyrs: to commit to the social contract and its articles, to preserve the democratic rights of the peoples and the values of the martyrs, to safeguard the freedom, safety, and security of the Democratic Self-Administration regions of North and East Syria and the Democratic Republic of Syria, and to work for a free, vibrant life and the realization of social justice, according to the principle of the democratic nation).” Without explaining who the martyrs are! In the context of the ongoing military conflict in Syria and societal division, who are the martyrs that we should venerate above the rights of the living? This veneration may impede the course of transitional justice in the future. Does the term “martyrs” apply to those who lost their lives in internal conflicts? This has been experienced repeatedly by the controlling forces in the Northeast region.
- Although Article 37 acknowledges that “the Democratic Self-Administration of North and East Syria commits to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all relevant human rights regulations,” it did not mention the specific UN resolutions regarding the Syrian solution. Similarly, it ignored international agreements and resolutions issued by the United Nations regarding women, such as CEDAW and UN Security Council Resolution 1325, despite discussing equality and the equal rights of women, which we, as a movement, agree with. However, the absence of reference to international references is incomprehensible.
- The contract clearly adopted the ideology presented by the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Ocalan, in his book “Manifesto of Democratic Civilization.” It used its expressions and terms, such as the “democratic nation,” “peoples of democracy,” and “confederation,” imposing this ideology on all Syrians and connecting them to a non-Syrian project linked to a party located outside Syrian borders.
The Syrian Women’s Political Movement sees that this social contract carries a danger in its provisions to the unity of Syria and its people. It poses an obstacle to the desired Syrian political solution according to Resolution 2254 and relevant international decisions and agreements. The movement warns against the transformation of areas under the control of current authorities, resulting from the Syrian conflict, into a de facto division of Syria imposed by force. The movement also sees the danger in the rumors about transferring the experience of self-administration to other areas in Syria, including Suweida.
It is worth mentioning that we understand the possibility of having temporary legal and administrative regulations to manage the daily lives of citizens in those areas and others, on the condition that they are temporary and do not take on a permanent nature, until we reach the desired state of Syria. A democratic, pluralistic state that celebrates its rich cultural diversity, respecting the rights of everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or sect. The movement emphasizes that Syrians have the right to write a social contract willingly, without interference, imposition, or coercion by the authorities in control or being led to adopt ideological references that transcend borders.
The Political Committee of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement