The first round of Geneva 2 negotiations on the future of Syria concluded, and the second one has started. Syria has been drenched in blood for over two years with tragic humanitarian conditions, masses of martyrs and victims, destruction and siege, starvation, detention, abduction, and extremism.
Although this round of peace talks did not fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people nor did it mitigate the indescribable suffering of Syrians, we consider it a first step in the delicate path to achieving peace and embarking on the democratic transitional process.
We deeply believe that a negotiated political solution is the only way to transcend the cycle of violence and killing, to end tyranny in all its forms, and to establish a civil, democratic and pluralistic state. A state that ensures human rights as stipulated in international conventions, equal citizenship for all Syrian people regardless of their affiliations, and full gender equality; a state that criminalizes all forms of discrimination and violence against women; and a unified state in terms of land and people.
Stemming from this belief and from our great confidence that women can play an active and influential role in pushing forward the peace process and nation-building, we believe that our presence in Geneva was urgently needed, although we have not been involved in negotiations as an independent women civil society organizations as we initially envisaged. We have had numerous meetings with high-level decision-makers and key stakeholders in the conflict on finding a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the crisis experienced by our people.
We demanded: an immediate cease-fire; lifting of the siege; unimpeded entry and distribution of humanitarian aid; the release of detainees and prisoners; information on the status of abducted men and women; expulsion of all foreign fighters from Syria; blockage of the flow of arms; and the immediate end to the recruitment of child soldiers. The positions of those whom we met ranged from the strong support of our demands to the promise of adopting and supporting them.
We also emphasized in our meetings with international and humanitarian organizations, such as the United Nations Human Rights Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the top priority of humanitarian aid and relief, and our substantive, active and influential role in it.
Based on the actual needs of people at the current stage, we can work to:
• Contribute to organizing humanitarian aid to reach those who need it and supervise its distribution.
• Offer suggestions, position papers, and action plans on all files of negotiations that would meet our aspirations to build a new Syria supported by the will of the Syrian women who endure the brunt of the ongoing blood-stained conflict.
• Contribute to the implementation of the outcomes of negotiations on the ground to ensure sustainable peace.
• Communicate with all parties on the ground to mitigate tension and contribute to the building of confidence and civil peace.
• Mainstream women issues and gender equality in the whole peace process.
We stress that our active and direct presence in the entire negotiation process is an urgent necessity of national concern as it ensures women’s participation at all stages of the peace process as well as the transitional period including the formation of the transitional governing body and the committees drafting laws and constitution.
Based on that, we will continue to demand a role in the entire negotiation process, in the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions on women and their role in armed conflicts.
We would like to thank all the parties in support of the peaceful political process, headed by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and for his efforts in launching the negotiation process and ensuring its continuation.
Geneva, 10 Feb. 2014.