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A temporary constitutional statement for transitional phase in Syria

Human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, President of the Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies, drafts a suggested interim constitutional statement for the transition in Syria
A temporary constitutional statement for transitional phase in Syria

Questions are raised frequently about the transitional phase and the legal mechanism controlling it; ideas fluctuate between going back to work according to the old constitutionand continuing to work according to the current constitution, once it has been reformed. Questions are raised also about how to move into a new democratic legal environment in which people are the decision makers, with a method to prepare a new constitution; how to eliminate the traces of the past stage and deliberate the destiny of those who committed crimes of killing civilians and destroying the country; how to recover people's security, which has been severely impaired; and other questions which are legitimate and express anxiety about an amorphous future, as no party has introduced a secure legal political map for democratic transition.


The Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies, believing in its role in conducting studies within a legal framework for the future of Syria, espousingdemocracy and respect for human rights, represents this necessity for a temporary constitutional statement that acts as a functional roadmap for decision makers and all concerned in the transitional phase, in the hope that it may help them in reducing the Syrians’ suffering and guarantee a peaceful and secure transition of power to realize a bright future despite all the pain they live in now.


Chapter one: general principles


Introduction: the current constitution would be suspended along with all exclusive laws and courts, such as law N.49 issued in 1980, the law establishing the Terrorism Court, article 16 of law N.14 issued in 1969 granting members of the security forces immunity from court proceedings, decree N.6 issued in 1966 related to the opposition of the revolution's goals and hindering the implementation of socialism and decree N.55 issued in 2011 revising penalty law in order to extend security-based detention and giving security forces the tasks of judicial police. Field courts and all the laws preventing the process of democratic transition would be dismissed as well.


The rules of this statement are active during the transitional period and they would be deactivated when the new constitution is acknowledged.


Article one:The Syrian Republic is an independent state; it forms an inseparable political and geographic body and it is not allowed to give up any part of it. It is a part of the Arab world, the regional, and the international community.


Article two: The Syrian Republic is a state that encompasses a national, religious and sectarian variety and all its sons are equal in rights and duties without any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or belief.


Article three: The Syrian Republic is a state that respects the sovereignty of law, democracy and the human rights disciplines represented in the Universal Declaration, as well as the international legitimacy and conventions following it, and it is not allowed to issue any law or legislationviolating these disciplines. The judicial branch is the main authority to preserve these rights.


Article four: Personal freedom, the freedom of speech and belief, participation in decision making through political parties and civil society organizations and publishing newspapers and other publications are legal and reserved rights for all Syrians.


Chapter two: the transitional government


Article one: A transitional government would administrate the country during the transitional period; the total number of its members should be a multiple of three, and the political, national, religious and sectarian diversity of the Syrian nation should be taken into consideration.


Article two: The transitional government is in charge of executive authorities and it would establish temporary legislative authorities active during the transitional period; the elected parliament can fix or change them in order to run the state's affairs during the transitional period. The decisions of this government are validated through a two-thirds majority. The prime minister represents the government and the state abroad.


Article three: The period of the transitional government is a maximum of two years.


Article four: The government would start reconstruction and rebuilding of infrastructure, provide services to citizens, reconstruct judiciary authority and guarantee its absolute independence, activate administrations and institutions, monitor security and accept unconditional aid from abroad in order to rebuild the country.


Article five: In addition to its tasks in the management of the affairs of the country, the transitional government has to form the National Assembly to draw up a new constitution for the country; this will include carrying out elections to name the commissioners for the National Assembly and executing elections for local assemblies in cities and towns, as well as a referendum on the constitution. The transitional government has to ensure a safe, honest and neutral environment to participate in the elections under a new law, acting as supervisor of parliamentary and presidential elections.


Article six: The members of the new transitional government are not allowed to nominate for parliamentary and presidential elections in their first round.


Chapter three: the National Assembly


Article one: A national assembly consisting of one hundred and thirty members would be formed to establish a new constitution for the country. Half of the assembly members would be elected directly by the nation or by the elected local assemblies. According to the rulethat a single governorate makes a single electoral district, each governorate has a number of nominees accordant with the number of its inhabitants. The other half are assigned by the government, and they are selected on basis of legal and economic experience as well as social figures, in a way that considers the existence of all Syrian society components.


Article two: The National Assembly makes its decisions about the constitution and its articles through a three-quarters majority, and the assembly has to carry out its task no later than one year from the date of its inception.


Article three: The National Assembly tackles its work in total transparency and carries out an enlightenment and clarification campaign for its work accompanied by the government and civil society organizations and media.


Article four: When the project of the constitution is accomplished by the National Assembly, the government submits it to a general referendum, and it has to get the majority of the citizens, or two thirds of the number of true voters, registered in the referendum. The expatriate Syrians have the right to participate in the referendum and the government has to ensure this participation.


Article five: In case this project does not get the majority of the necessary votes, it returns to the National Assembly to certify and resubmit it on referendum within three months maximum. In this case the majority number of voters is considered.


Article six: The National Assembly shall be dissolved after admitting the constitution with referendum.


Chapter four: body of transitional justice


Article one: An independent body would be established under the name of the body of transitional justice, consisting of independent legal, judicial, social, economic and cultural figures. It could ask help from any expert or figure to carry out its tasks.


Article two: The body defines its internal system and its way of work.


Article three: The tasks of the body of transitional justice are:


1-      Release all prisoners, search for the missing and negotiate the legal issues for the victims.


2-      Work to stabilize and support civil peace, proceed with a national reconciliation, educate by forming regional committees for peacemaking andmake useof all kinds of media workshops and outdoor symposiums.



3-      Establisha central court and sub-courts to trythose responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or dangerous human rights violations, with all the guaranteed conditions of a just trial. 


4-      Conduct a field survey for all physical and financial damages and establish and manage a compensation fund supplied by the budget of the state and through donations, grants and aids from local, Arab and international parties; the priority should be for relatives of victims and the wounded. It should also provide alternative shelter for those who have lost their homes.



5-      Form a special committee to archive all the stages the country has gone through and to immortalize the memories of the people who sacrificed their lives and money for the future of the country, introducing those people into school books so that they become an ideal to be followed and a lighthouse and a constant memory.


Chapter five: the army and security forces


Article one: The army and security forces follow the orders of the transitional government.


Article two: The army would be remodeled into a professional army dedicated to defending the borders of the country. Security forces and the police force would be restructured with respect to their role and functionso that they all protect the security of the country and the safety of citizens. All the military personnel, civil members and leaders involved in killing civilians, either by participation, giving orders or provocation, would be handed over to the body of transitional justice to be tried fairly.


Article three: The police would help the security forces and the army to recover security and withdraw illegal arms.


Chapter six: conclusion


The transitional government would prepare the political and security environment to run the parliamentary and presidential elections in a neutral and honest manner and under observance of local, Arab and international civil society organizations according to the new constitution and its tasks end with the formation ofthe legitimate government under the new constitution.



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