Riyadh, 22.- 23. November 2017
The second Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Conference was held in Riyadh from 22 to 23 November 2017. It was attended by representatives of the opposition and revolution, independents, as well as by military groups, civil society, and local and community council members from all parts of Syrian society.
The aim of the conference was to close the ranks of the revolution and the opposition and to find a common vision for a political solution based on Geneva 1 (2012), the UN Resolutions 2118 and 2254 and other relevant international resolutions. These resolutions should be the basis for a transitional period that will lead the country to a pluralistic and democratic political system. In this system a framework of justice should be established and ensure the following: citizens are equal in rights and duties: justice is granted to the victims of tyranny and war crimes: all Syrians are reunited in a country in which their freedoms are guaranteed and their dignity is protected; the system unites them against tyranny, extremism and terror so that security and peace can prevail for all citizens.
A review of the past political process has taken place, but could not achieve its objective given that the regime constantly violates international law, and disregards UN resolutions on the protection of the Syrian civilian population and the suspension of their siege. Moreover, the regime does not allow necessary humanitarian relief supplies to pass into the areas in need, does not release the prisoners and does not explain the fate of the missing and the disappeared, even though this is one of the internationally applied principles upon which trust can be built in order to subsequently engage in productive negotiations.
The participants discussed the topics on the agenda and shared their views in an atmosphere of mutual respect and a deep sense of historical responsibility to the steadfast Syrian people. They reached an agreement on the fateful issues Syria is facing.
The participants reaffirmed their commitment to the unity and integrity of Syria and the sovereignty of the entire country. No part of the country should be separated or abandoned. Furthermore, participants expressed their insistence that Syria is a multiethnic and multicultural country whose constitution must guarantee the national rights of all parts of the population, those of Arabs as well as those of Kurds, Turkmens, Arameans, Assyrians and others. This includes their culture and languages, which are regarded as national languages and cultures and which stand for the history and civilization of Syria. The Kurdish question is considered a national concern. Any discriminatory policy and a policy based on disadvantages against the Kurds must end, and the citizenship of those who have been denied or deprived of their citizenship must be returned.
The participants also agreed that Syria should be a democratically governed state based on the following: the principle of administrative decentralization: enriching ethnic, religious and confessional diversity, which respects international conventions and human rights: and the principle of equitable citizenship. Its government should represent all parts of the Syrian population without discrimination and disadvantages based on gender, confession or ethnicity. Its foundations are citizenship, human rights, transparency, accountability and the validity of the law for all.
All those present obliged themselves to preserve and reform the institutions of the Syrian state. This also includes the restructuring and reconstruction of the security services and the military in accordance to the rights of those employed there. They reaffirmed that only the legitimate institutions of the Syrian state, which are determined by the people through free and fair elections, should have the right to own and use weapons.
They emphasized their rejection and fight against extremism and terror in all its varieties and origins, as well as their rejection of any regional and international interference, in particular the destabilization by Iran, as well as any demographic change and the spread of terror and state terror by foreign and confessional militias. The participants also emphasized their rejection of all foreign fighters on Syrian soil and demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
The Assembly reaffirmed that only a political solution for the Syrian crisis based on the relevant UN resolutions is possible, whereby there must be international guarantees with deterrent measures and implementation mechanisms to ensure that all sides comply with them. The process of political transition in Syria is a responsibility of the Syrians and the international community.
All those present reaffirmed the principle of legal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which were committed against Syrians, according to the principles of transitional justice.
The participants agreed that the goal of political reconciliation is to establish a democratic state based on the principle of equal citizenship. This will enable Syrians to work out their constitution without interference and to determine their leadership in free, fair and transparent elections. Syrians both within the country and abroad, should be able to participate in these elections under the supervision of the UN and within a mechanism that upholds their right to inquiry and accountability towards this leadership and leads to a fundamental political transition, in which women are represented with a share of at least 30 percent. Those for whom involvement in war crimes against Syrians can be proven have no right to participate in the future political reorganization.
All those present reaffirmed that direct negotiations without preconditions mean that all issues could be discussed. No side has the right to formulate preconditions. The demand for the implementation of international resolutions is not a precondition. All topics are to be negotiated, including the form of government, the political system, the competences and responsibilities of state authorities, the position of the president of the republic and the government etc.
Those gathered also reaffirmed the adherence to the negotiating positions of the revolutionary and opposition forces for which the Syrian people made sacrifices and which are therefore not negotiable. This is in line with the Geneva Declaration 1 regarding “the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which transition can take place” and “ensure that the transition can be implemented in a way that assures the safety of all in an atmosphere of stability and calm.” The congregation affirmed that this cannot happen without the resignation of Bashar al-Assad, his clique, and his tyrannical repressive apparatus once the transitional period begins.
Regardless, the assembly called on the UN to take immediate and necessary action through its representative to launch the political process and to accelerate the Geneva negotiation process by initiating direct negotiations without preconditions between the joint delegation of revolutionary and opposition forces and the delegation of the representatives of the Syrian regime and prepare an agenda on the basis of the “Declaration of Geneva 1” of 30 June 2012 and the relevant UN resolutions, in particular resolutions 2118, 2254 and 67/262. These resolutions are considered as the only reference for negotiations under the supervision and the guarantees of the UN.
All those present called on the UN and the international community to implement the UN resolutions and to take immediate and serious action, so that the agreement on the release of the prisoners and detainees will be implemented, the blockade of the besieged areas will be stopped, humanitarian aid will reach those in need. In addition, refugees and displaced persons must be allowed to return to their homes and land. The de-escalation agreements have to be implemented effectively and forcefully, while the violations by the regime and its allies against them have to be prevented. All present stressed that if these agreements are not accompanied by serious efforts to reach a just political solution, this will lead to an even more dangerous escalation of the conflict, as terror will spread again in the region.
The participants agreed that the second Riyadh conference and its final declaration are the only reference point for the High Negotiating Committee. The entire High Negotiating Committee represents the united negotiating committee in its structure and objectives. Its aim is to negotiate with the representatives of the regime. No member of the Negotiating Committee is entitled to participate in the transitional government or in the institutions resulting from it.
The participants in the meeting expressed their acceptance and support for the role of the UN and the international community in monitoring the ceasefire, peacekeeping and supervising the political process. They urge them to provide more humanitarian aid.
At the end of the meeting, the participants confirmed the organizational structure and the statutes of the negotiating committee in addition to nominating their representatives who will be sent to the current round of negotiations to take over the task of selecting the negotiating delegation. The reference point for the negotiators is based on the principles determined by the conference participants.
The participants thank with full appreciation the guardian of the holy places, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his heir apparent Prince Muhammad bin Salman, may God grant them, and the government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting this conference. They see it as a continuation of Saudi Arabia’s efforts and continued support for the Syrian people to fulfill their hopes for freedom and dignity.
Grace the martyrs, freedom for the prisoners, quick healing of the wounded, and victory for our blessed revolution!
On November 22 and 23, 2017 the conference of the Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the end of the conference, a document was published which constitutes the negotiating position of the Syrian opposition for the current peace talks in Geneva. In order to make it available for a broader public, the European Center for Kurdish Studies translated this document from Arabic into German and English. The original document in Arabic language can be found under Publications.