24 March 2016
This is an Explanatory Note to the Special Envoy’s Paper on Points of Commonalities. It sets out what the official purpose is of the paper. During the course of talks the Special Envoy noted that certain commonalities existed between the two sides in relation to their respective visions of what a future of Syrian state might look like. He instructed his staff to try to capture points of convergence in order to help him structure the next round of talks which shall also focus on political transition. The paper is a useful guide as to the commonalties that exists between the two negotiating parties. It is not an agreed paper of the two negotiating parties. It does not constitute in any way a framework document or a negotiating text and shall not be put before the UN Security Council or the ISSG unless specifically authorised by both sides. Instead, the Special Envoy has invited each of the two negotiating parties to take away the paper to examine whether it accurately captures points of convergence if not consensus. He has also invited each of the two negotiating parties to identify important points of divergence on essential principles. For the avoidance of doubt the two negotiating parties continue to maintain their respective negotiating positions as regards any political transitional process and what a future Syrian state might look like.
Essential Principles of a Political Solution in Syria
The participants in the intra-Syrian talks agree with the Special Envoy that the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 2254, the ISSG statements and the Geneva Communique in its entirety are the basis for a political transition process and beyond that will end the crisis in Syria—a crisis that has cost countless lives and imposed endless suffering on the people of Syria. The sides confirm that a political settlement is the only way to peace. Towards this end the parties recognize the following essential principles as the foundation for a future Syrian state that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people:
1. Respect for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. No part of the national territory shall be ceded. As an integral part of the Arab nation, Syria is committed to a peaceful and active role in the international community. As a founding member, Syria is dedicated to the UN Charter and its purposes and principles. The people of Syria remain committed to the restoration of the occupied Golan Heights by peaceful means.
2. The principles of sovereign equality and non-intervention shall apply, in conformity with the UN Charter. The Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country by democratic means, through the ballot box, and have the exclusive right to choose their own political, economic and social system without external pressure or interference.
3. Syria shall be a democratic, non-sectarian state based on citizenship and political pluralism, the representation of all components of Syrian society, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, equal rights, non-discrimination, human rights and fundamental freedoms, transparency, accountability and the principles of national reconciliation and social peace.
4. Syria cherishes its history of diversity and the contributions and values of all religions, traditions and national identities to Syrian society. Acts of revenge against individuals or groups shall not be tolerated. There shall be no discrimination against, and full protection of, all national, ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identities. Members of all communities, men and women, shall enjoy equal opportunities in social, economic, cultural and public life.
5. Women shall enjoy equality of rights and representation in all institutions and decision-making structures at a level of at least 30 per cent during the transition and thereafter.
6. As per Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), the political transition in Syria shall include mechanisms for credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution and free and fair elections pursuant to the new constitution, administered under supervision by the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.
7. Such governance shall ensure an environment of stability and calm during the transition, offering safety and equal chances to political actors to establish themselves and campaign in the forthcoming elections and participate in public life.
8. Continuity and reform of state institutions and public services, along with measures to protect the public infrastructure and private property, shall ensure stability in accordance with international standards, principles of good governance and human rights. The governance will take effective measures to combat corruption. Citizens will benefit from effective mechanisms of protection in the relations with all public authorities, ensuring full compliance with human rights.
9. Syria categorically rejects terrorism and strongly opposes terrorist organizations and individuals identified by the UN Security Council and will engage in a national endeavour, in international partnership, to defeat terrorism and to address the causes of terrorism. Syria calls on all states in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, to prevent terrorist groups from being supplied with weapons, money, training, shelter, intelligence or safe havens and to refrain from inciting acts of terrorism.
10. Syrians are committed to rebuilding a strong and unified national army, also through the disarmament and integration of members of armed groups supporting the transition and the new constitution. That professional army shall protect the borders and population of the State from external threats in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. The state and its reformed institutions will exercise the exclusive right of controlling weapons of war. There shall be no intervention by foreign fighters on Syrian soil.
11. All refugees and internally displaced people wishing it shall be enabled to return safely to their homes with national and international support and in line with international protection standards. Those arbitrarily detained shall be released and the fate of the disappeared, kidnapped or missing shall be resolved.
12. There shall be reparations, redress, care, and restitution of rights and property lost for those who have suffered loss or injury in consequence of the conflict. As peace and stability are being restored, Syria shall call for the holding of a major donor conference to gain funds for compensation, reconstruction and development of the country, and the lifting of all coercive economic measures and other unilateral actions affecting the people of Syria. Syria looks forward to international guarantees and support for the implementation of the political process in a way that does not infringe upon the sovereignty of Syria.