Whilst acknowledging that genuine human rights defenders form part of the committee’s list of names, the Syrian British Council regards the recent establishment of the UN Constitutional Committee for Syria as an attempt by Russia to rehabilitate the Assad regime in the eyes of the international community. The Syrian British Council calls on the committee’s members to reject this attempted rehabilitation. A regime that is responsible for committing atrocities at a scale not seen since the second world war, can never be a legitimate partner in the drafting of a treaty designed to enshrine in law the rights and freedoms of a people. To do so would make a mockery of international order and the course of justice. The regime must be held to account for its crimes, not be rewarded with legitimacy. The timing in which this committee has emerged is furthermore premature, indicating a clear attempt by Russia to highjack the decision-making process for Syria’s future by evading and dishonouring agreements reached in previous UN resolutions. The establishment of the committee at this point in time, violates UNSC resolution 2254, which stipulates the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire; the unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the entirety of Syria; the establishment of a democratic provisional government in which opponents of the regime will hold a significant share of power whilst excluding figures involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity; the release of all political detainees; and the holding of free, fair and internationally-monitored elections in which all Syrians throughout the country, as well as those exiled abroad, will vote without fear of violence, coercion or intimidation from any entity. According to resolution 2254, it is only after these milestones have been reached, that the discussion of a constitution becomes relevant. The Syrian British Council therefore urges all parties to uphold their legal obligations in abiding by the resolution’s agreements. Finally, the Syrian British Council reminds all statekholders that the establishment of a new constitution will do nothing to end the conflict. This is because Syria’s crisis has never been limited to constitutional issues. Focusing on the constitution now risks mischaracterising the narrative of the war, as if to suggest that people have been killed because of it. This will only serve to obfuscate the course of justice for Syria’s many victims. Indeed, Syria already has a constitution—one that has been habitually violated and manipulated by the Assad regime for half a century. Priority should rather be given to addressing the factors that ignited (and continue to fuel) the war—namely the regime's totalitarianism and its brutal system of repression. Only the enforcement of international law and justice will bring about peace in Syria. At a time when the regime continues to drop barrel bombs on civilians, the drafting of a new constitution will not.
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