BY: European Union
The co-chairs of the Fourth conference of the Future of Syria and the region (the European Union and the United Nations) issued a declaration on the outcomes of the conference.
The Working Group for Building Free Syria (WGBFS) , as we noticed that this forth conference, similarly to the third conference of last year, fell short of fully endorsing the General Principles for the rebuilding process of Syria issued by our group at the end of 2018 and adopted by 43 Syrian NGOs/CSOs; we welcome the fact that the declaration of the cochairs did however include some of these fundamental principles:
– The declaration used in its 24th paragraph the term “rebuilding the Syrian society”. The term “Rebuilding” is what our group has adopted as we explained that we aim at is the full rebuilding of country (covering the economical, the societal, the administrative and the political aspects). This term is more profound and more important than that of “Reconstruction”, mainly used to talk about the infrastructures and the economy;
– The declaration included several important sentences and precautions that are in accordance with the General Principles that we issued: in paragraph 26, when talking about large-scale voluntary return, the declaration mentions “conditions of safety and dignity in line with international law” and it emphasizes on the fact that the right to return “should not contribute to demographic engineering”; in paragraph 29, the declaration talking about the support to Syria mentioned that it “can help enhance social cohesion, empower local communities to identify their needs and defend their rights, and ensure a more protective environment limiting the recourse to harmful coping strategies” and that “conflict sensitivity is key to the success of this approach”; and finally in paragraph 30, the declaration states that “community participation and empowerment in the articulation and prioritization of needs remain key” and that “funding decisions shall be gender responsive and conflict-sensitive, be based on independent needs assessments, shall in no way benefit or assist parties who have allegedly committed war crimes or crimes against humanity and shall not condone, or indirectly entrench, social and demographic engineering”;
– The declaration repeated in its final paragraph 48 that “reconstruction and international support for its implementation will only be possible once a credible political solution, consistent with resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva Communiqué, is firmly underway”, and that a successful reconstruction process “also requires minimal conditions for stability and inclusiveness, a democratic and inclusive government guaranteeing people’s safety and security, an agreed conflict-sensitive development strategy, reliable and legitimate interlocutors as well as guarantees in terms of funding accountability”. According to the declaration, “none of these conditions are currently fulfilled in Syria”.