fundament for a new Syria
The agreement of higher values presented in the following document forms a mutual vision for the future of Syria that all parts of society agree to live by. The values follow the efforts of the Syrian people, past and present, to build the coming future that we hope new generations of Syrians will live in.
The higher values do not succumb to political and ideological debates, but establish an overarching fundament of rights-based citizenship and a legal umbrella that protects all citizens equally. Furthermore, the values do not yield to the interests of the majority or the minority in whatever religious and confessional orientation, political affiliation, or gender, but to the people’s desire to build a homeland for all. In this future Syria, no majority in whatever shape or form can violate the rights of any minority, no matter how small. The values presented will as such ensure the rights of the minorities notwithstanding the size or form of a majority government to take power in Syria.
The International Declaration of Human Rights and the following international covenants and conventions (e.g. the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Treaty for the Rights of Women, and the Convention against Torture) constitute the most advanced principles within positive law achieved by mankind and have as such obtained global recognition. As such it is imperative to aspire to these principles in building our social contract for a new Syria. By translating these principles into facts on the ground, we will assure all Syrians that their future and their children’s future will in fact be better in a rights-based homeland for all.
These principles, which are ensured by the higher values presented in the following document, will guide any supra-constitutional establishment or any revision of the constitution and laws governing the society and nation of Syria. The principles cannot be transgressed because they represent the consciousness of the society and mankind and protect the rights of the nation’s children from any violations.
As a legal foundation represented by Syrian lawyers working in the field of human rights, the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research present the Syrian people, its political parties, intellectuals, and experts with a vision of higher values that will found a new system in Syria. We hope that all Syrians as parties, groups and individuals will agree to these values so that a clear message can be sent to the Syrian people and the world: there is a vision for Syria after the change. By this agreement we can lay a lasting and solid groundwork for rebuilding the society and the country within the framework of a homeland for all – a pluralistic civil democracy that respects human rights.
Agreement of higher values
”The founding rules for the constitution and laws in Syria”
1. Syria is a pluralistic civil democracy containing a rich variation of peoples, confessional orientations, and religions. As a fully sovereign political and geographical entity, Syria is constituted on the principle of egalitarian citizenship. Syria is a part of the Arab, regional and international order that obligates its policies for the higher interests of the Syrian people and its national unity and security. This entails respect for international treaties and the human rights conventions.
2. Syria is a country based on rule of law and civil institutions that provide security for all its citizens in a national homeland. All Syrian citizens share the same rights, obligations and equality before the law. It is not permissible to discriminate among Syrian citizens based on ethnicity, religion, gender, and political affiliation.
3. The sovereignty of the people is expressed through fair and transparent elections based on the principles of political freedoms, universality, equality and secret ballot. All citizens have the right to political participation, the right to take up public positions without discrimination, the right to belong to peaceful political parties and assemblies, and the right to form unions expressing the interests of its members.
4. All citizens have the right to peaceful and public expression their political opinions, beliefs and thoughts. This entails the rights to freely share information and to peaceful assembly and demonstration. It is not permissible to force any citizen to abstain from these rights or to otherwise prevent or hold citizens accountable for any peaceful expression of their rights. It is furthermore not permissible to instigate hate and violence between the peoples and religions of Syria and to damage the national unity of the country.
5. All citizens have the right to a fair and just trial within an acceptable timeframe. The judicial system is fully independent, impartial, just and neutral in its function as the protecting shield for Syrian citizens and guarantor of public freedoms and rights. The right to attorney is sacred and cannot be violated. All citizens equally enjoy the right to legal protection and all accused are innocent until proven guilty.
6. The right to life is holy and all citizens have the right to personal safety and freedom. It is not permissible to violate these rights, or to arrest any citizen or conduct house searches without a judicial warrant. It is also not permissible to expose any person to torture or other forms of physical and psychological degradation of the human dignity.
7. All citizens have the right to move freely and to choose their place of residence. No Syrian citizen can be expelled from his or her homeland. It is not permissible to confiscate travel documents or prevent any person from travelling without a judicial warrant. All citizens have the right to work under safe and healthy conditions, and the right to a just minimum wage that can provide for a dignified life for their families.
8. The natural resources of Syria are the property of its people and the ownership rights cannot be resigned. All citizens have the right to own property and the country will ensure the legal protection of its citizen’s physical and intellectual property. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property and a transfer must either be for the public benefit or against a fair compensation.
9. All citizens have the right to education, medical care, social insurance and a clean environment. Elementary education is obligatory for all citizens and provided without cost. The country has the responsibility to eradicate hunger and illiteracy and to secure economical and social development in a balanced and just way in all governorates.
10. All children of Syrian mothers or fathers have the right to Syrian nationality and belonging without discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender or confessionary affiliation. The country is obliged to secure the rights aforementioned among the families and society in Syria and to take necessary measures to ensure the continued protection of these rights.
A High Constitutional Court consisting of judges and independent legal experts will supervise the integration of the principles stated in this document into the constitution and ensure full future constitutional compliance.