National Covenant for a New Syria

Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Whereas, the revolution of the great Syrian people, with all of its diverse constituencies participating, began its second year with the determination to wrest freedom and dignity from a regime that sought to destroy the country, undermine its national unity, and crush its people with cruelty, terror and aggression by killing, imprisoning and displacing hundreds of thousands in full view of the world;

Whereas, in absolute defiance of the regime's crimes and heinous acts, Syrians are, more than ever, resolved to topple the regime by escalating their struggle for their future state where the rule of law and the people's free will prevail and no individual or group will impose any kind of authority over others;

Whereas, the current situation makes it incumbent on Syrians to marshal all their efforts in order to confront and bring down the regime, and more importantly to protect Syrians from its criminality and tyranny and to save the country from the junta that has been ruling by iron and fire for over four decades;

Whereas, it is with a sense of our national responsibility that all the political forces within the framework of the Syrian revolution, be they political parties, bodies of revolution and field movements or national independent personalities, have agreed during the Syrian Opposition Conference on the principles of this National Covenant constituting the main pillars for a new Syria;

Whereas, responding to the multitude of calls to unify the efforts and to arrive at a collective vision for the Syrian opposition and its various components, we agreed upon and affirmed our commitment to the principles of the National Covenant;

We hereby declare the fundamental principles on which the new Syrian State will be created:

Syria is a civil, democratic, pluralistic, independent and free state. As a sovereign country, it will determine its own future based only on the collective will of its people. Sovereignty will belong in its entirety only to the Syrian people who will exercise it through democracy.

The transitional government will be committed to hold free and fair elections upon the fall of the current, illegitimate regime. A constituent assembly, formed by the transitional government, will engage in drafting a new constitution containing the principles of this Covenant and submit it to a free referendum.

New Syria will be a democratic Republic dedicated to the constitutional tradition and will uphold the rule of law where all its citizens are equal before the law regardless of their religious, ethnic or ideological affiliation.

Principles of human rights will be the cornerstone of state and society in our newly born democracy.

We, the Syrian people, are proud of our cultural mosaic and diversity of our religious beliefs – Muslim, Christian and others – that are integral parts of our society. As we had collectively built our past, we shall create our future together. Syria's new democratic order will be founded on the principle of "unity in diversity" and will embrace all individuals and communities without any exclusion or discrimination.

The constitution will ensure non-discrimination between any of the religious, ethnic or national components of Syrian society – Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmens or others. It will recognize equal rights for all within the context of Syria's territorial and demographic integrity and unity.

Free and fair elections will be carried out periodically. A multiparty system will be established. No obstacle shall be placed before the citizens desiring to participate in the democratic political life.

The freely elected parliament will reflect the will and interests of the people in order to ensure full legitimacy to the government emerging from it.

The president will be freely elected by the people or the Parliament. There will be no one man or one body rule in Syria. The powers of the president will be clearly articulated in the constitution, consistent with the separation of powers .

The elected government will ensure the full and unambiguous independence of the judiciary and its institutions.

The constitution will guarantee the rights of individuals and groups enshrined in all universally recognized fundamental human rights and international conventions. It will protect the public and private freedoms of all citizens including the freedom of expression, opinion, conscience and beliefs according to the international conventions.

The state will guarantee the rights and freedoms of women, and will maintain all their achievements, while securing their civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights and their participation on equal terms with men in all fields .

The new state will apply the highest standards for assuring the rights of the religious components and will provide the freedom of practicing religion, belief and conscience.

Criminalization, all forms of torture, ill treatment and the practices that degrade the human dignity, whatever the motives, will be forbidden.

All public authorities , state institutions and public servants will be at the service of the people effectively under its authority, not vice versa.

We will not allow impunity. We will urgently uphold the principles of accountability, under the law and through fair judicial authorities .

The Syrian armed forces will be subject to the political authority; it will no longer be used for interfering in the political life or for safeguarding the interests of the regime. Under the jurisdiction of the elected government, they will serve the whole nation in the defense of our fatherland and make the Syrian People proud of the performance of their armed forces.

We will restructure the security services, based on constitutional and legal foundations, and place them in the service of the country and the citizens, under the control of the legislative authority.

While laying the foundations of democratic order and justice, we will pursue no revenge or retaliation. On the contrary, we will provide suitable conditions to heal the wounds of the past. The new Syrian state will guarantee the protection of individuals and groups and it will work on a nationwide reconciliation process, based on justice and tolerance.

Syria will take its rightful place in the community of nations. Mutual interests, joint work and cooperation will be the key concepts in its regional and international relations. We will always be on the side of international law in serving peace and security in the world.

Syria will re-establish its effective role in the Arab world and in the framework of the Arab League, to become a factor in regional stability. It will use all means to enhance solidarity and cooperation among Arab states.

Syria will endeavor to free the occupied Golan by all legitimate means. It will stand together with the Palestinian people in their struggle for the restitution of their rights and will spare no effort to preserve the unity among Palestinians and their success in achieving their goals.

The economy will be freed from the hands of the bloody regime, from lootings by cliques, monopoly and theft of public money. It will be placed in the service of the whole Syrian people. The state will ensure consolidating the free market economy according to the equitable rules of markets and fair competition. By the same token , the State will be vigilant in achieving justice in the distribution of national wealth and the application of the principle of equal opportunity. It will focus on combating poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and corruption all over Syrian territories. Planning for developing the free economy and achieving comprehensive and balanced development will remain the basis for raising the living standards of citizens of all segments and regions, with a special emphasis on the most indigent and neglected areas.

The Great Syrian People will put an end soon to Syria's dark era. Our country will enter into a new age of democracy and prosperity during which it will regain its real national unity. With the contribution and cooperation of all its sons and daughters, it will recover its proper place, commensurate with its history and its people in the civilized human society . No dark forces will be able to change the course of history and prevent the Syrian people from affirming its own destiny... and from its victory.

Long live new Syria: free, proud and democratic

Glory to our righteous fallen heroes and victory for the revolution

Istanbul 27 March 2012
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