Letter Concerning Brussels II Conference

EU Foreign Policy Chief, Ms. Frederica Mogherini
Your Excellencies, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Representatives of the Member States of the European Union
Your Excellencies, Representatives of Member States at the Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’, Brussels, April 24-25, 2018

On April 25th, a statement titled ‘Statement by the Syrian Civil Society in Brussels – April 2018’ was issued and presented at the closing session of the Brussels II Conference as the agreed upon formula in the name of Syrian civil society.

The signatories to this letter emphasize that this above-mentioned statement (1) does not represent any of our views on the topics addressed (2) was not presented to any us nor have any of us participated in its drafting, approval or signing (3) does not reflect the language we use nor does it represent our approach to human rights, social issues, and the decisive factors of a political solution in our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We believe that the important role played by Syrian civil society at the human rights, humanitarian, cultural, educational, healthcare, and medical levels, among others, has strongly contributed to saving millions of Syrian lives, alleviating their suffering, communicating their voices, and protecting the rights of Syrian victims and demanding justice for them.

This took place during the most difficult, dangerous and complex situations, and in the midst of an immense conflict that destroyed all capabilities and possibilities. It’s important to note here that the basic principles of civil society, based on human rights concepts and principles, are not substances for negotiation and the creation of consensus between two or more parties. We view the role of civil society in ensuring that these principles are not tampered with and used in negotiations to result in new and distorted versions of them.

We affirm our belief in a political solution in accordance with the Geneva process set out in Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and other relevant resolutions, so as to ensure accountability for all crimes committed against the Syrian people. We emphasize the importance of continuing to support the humanitarian and development programs in Syria and neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees. We also stress the need to clarify the concepts of reconstruction and early recovery so as to not allow these programs to be placed at the disposal of the Syrian government, which is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, and to become weapons of war at the hands of this government against the Syrian people.

We believe that the issuance of this above-mentioned statement at the Brussels II Conference is the result of a continued unbalanced approach in dealing with the role of civil society in the Syrian peace talks and the future of Syria. This has been and continues to the approach taken in the Geneva talks which we refer to here again and clarify its determinants:

1. No clear mechanism for determining prior processes of consultation with the organizations concerned on the issues raised and dealt with.
2. Meetings and agenda items are selected in a manner that is not systematic or studied, suggesting that holding meetings is an end in itself rather than the actual content of the meetings.
3. Meetings do not build on previous meetings where the same issues were discussed, so each meeting seems to begin from scratch.
4. Meetings lack the transparency required to disclose to Syrians what was discussed, what conclusions were reached, what was put forward and formulated, and by which organization or individual.
5. System of invitations and participation in meetings is often subject to ambiguous criteria and the personal preferences of the team members of the Special Envoy, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, without any consultation or coordination with the relevant institutions and organizations.

 

Signatories:

Association of Detainees and The Missing Sednaya Prison
Barada
Syrian Kurds Independent Association
Syria revolutionaries gathering
Dawlaty
Violations Documentation Center (VDC)
Generation of Building
Human or not
Human Rights Organization in Syria – MAF
Jasmine Dream Organization
Jozor
Syrian Network for Human Rights
Syrian Lawyers Aggregation
Al.Kawakibi Center for Transitional Justice
Ta’afi Program
Sonbola Group For Education & Development
SURİYE HÜRRİYET DERNEĞİ
Justice Network for Syrian women
Syrian Center for Studies and Human Rights (SNHR)
Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC)
Syrian Center for statistics and research
Syrian Feminist Lobby
Syrian Institute for Justice
Syrian Judiciary council
The Day After (TDA)
Human Rights Guardian
The Syrian league for human rights and accountability
The Syrian Youth Authoritysami
Syrian Journalists Association
Kesh Malek Organization

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