The 7th issue of Suwar Magazine


Discussion of  Life and Death in Syria

The recently published May 2014 issue of Suwar magazine includes two chapters that discuss the everyday death, economics and welfare in Syria. The topics, investigations and reports in this issue reflect the social and economic transformations that are accompanying the conflict in Syria.
The introduction reviews the presidential elections and its future implications amid a war of regional and international proportions.
The first chapter presents articles on the everyday death of civilians; cluster bombs have been killing and injuring dozens of people daily. Further, the chapter discusses the future impacts of cluster bombs, which are classified as a prohibited weapon. There are two additional articles on the subject of civilian death: “Assafira, the geography of the place killing its sons” and “Aleppo and living in the oblivion”.
The second chapter examines the economic situation and welfare in Syria. It includes three articles that observe the economic reality and its impact on people’s lives.

The articles presented in this chapter are: “Agriculture in Syria: unsurpassed reality and ambiguous future”; “Unemployed people roaming Idlib’s streets”; and “What is left from Aleppo’s industry?”
Suwar also interviewed Shadi Abolfakher, a civic activist. He uncovers the details of the ups-and-downs of the peaceful movement, and how political money and parties have been able to marginalize the Syrian people as a political actor.
Additionally, this issue includes an investigation about women in Kurdish areas in Syria: the violations she is exposed to and how those violations are being addressed by civil society organizations.
These features are in addition to the other articles and sections of diverse topics, information and photos

suwar_7To read the Seventh edition of Suwar magazine, please click on the following link :  Suwar Magazine

Organizations Development in its Fifth Project


Despite the current war in Syria, civil society is still alive. Syrian society hasn’t stopped producing groups that seek to crystalize themselves into civic organizations under emerging standards, but all share the principles of democracy and international treaties. Nevertheless, those institutions haven’t always been active under the Assad regime (father and son), on the contrary, they have been rigorously pursued and most of their founders and members were taken to prisons and tortured, which is against International Declaration of Human Rights Article 20: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” This oppression generated a kind of societal explosion in March 2011, during which different groups formed civic organizations that seek to protect citizens and their rights, to reorganize society and rebuild it again according to the needs of the people. However, these emerging organizations need development and reworking in different fields, such as capacity building and establishing mechanisms for decision-making and implementation.


In response to these needs, The Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS) conducted a five-day workshop in Gaziantep, Turkey. It focused on the development of civil society organizations in adherence with the Organizational Development program run by CCSDS. This training discussed and addressed the needs of the organizations that participated in the workshop from inside Syria. Topics ranged from capacity building for managers through running some tests to measure their abilities, taking into consideration local communities; their traditions and customs, their cultural concepts, religious backgrounds and the diverse ethnicities there. Mr. Bilal, the project coordinator noted “as Syrians, we were all affected by Albaath culture. Even the ruling method by the state has restrained people’s minds in similar principles”. He also emphasized that “we need to be more open towards the other, who has a different opinion. We should save our capacities and to be up to the event through doing double efforts in order to gain more experiences. And we have to benefit from the miseries of this war in rebuilding society on good bases. This training was part of the program of organizational development which seeks mainly to get out of the culture of inclusive governance, rooted in the collective awareness of people into a democratic model that believes in the principles of citizenship and the rule of law as a real solution for the current war.”
There was also a workshop conducted by the managers to share their experiences through presenting training materials and how this could go in a circulation of exchanging experiences and materials as well. As Mr. Shiar mentioned, “The most important thing was the behavior training for managers.” He added, “I had the chance to learn how to interact with the audience and to come up with the solution that best suits his mentality”. Program manager Nariman Hamo clarified that “the program seeks to empower civil society organizations and enable them to run their business and play bigger role in good governance, especially that the regime has limited the state and society and institutions through the sole party. It’s been important to work on rebuilding society and establishing a state of good institutions in order to guarantee diversity and form a complete body of different components”. The participants emphasized that it is necessary to continue with these kinds of workshops that help reviving civil society in Syria, which has been under an awful war by radical, exclusionary and extremist parties as a product of a security and totalitarian regime that has kept shelling civil areas through the last three years.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

bannerWhereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

  (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

  (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

   (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

   (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
   (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
   (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

  (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.


Taken from the following website:

Syrian Women Peace Circles

A workshop for the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS) Peace Circles Project was held in Gaziantep, Turkey and attended by 15 Syrian women, from diverse areas and ages. These women have been invited to and participated in previous trainings associated with the “Women for the Future of Syria” program. This most recent workshop lasted for five days. CCSDS was interested in building the capacity of the participants and empowering them to be able to develop and plan their projects. Nariman, CCSDS’ project director, said that the workshop initially focused on pushing the women toward assuming their natural role in society despite the exceptional situation Syria is encountering, so the suggested projects were about the possibility to resolve local disputes.
During the final day, the workshop became a competition between participants, who presented their projects to a panel of CCSDS judges. The outcome was to choose peace messengers .
After participant Siba had presented her project before the judges, she told us about her experience:
“We had the enthusiasm to work on the project and make it successful, but there was some disruption. Personally, I needed to clarify what we want and can do with this project. However, the interaction and observance of others’ projects was so useful and brought new ideas we are able to incorporate. Then we will be able to activate the role of the woman through peace circles of different ages.”

Syria Training
Participant Noura also reflected on the workshop:
“I didn’t have the knowledge of working on peace projects, and most of us lack the experience in planning projects and presenting a complete proposal within three days. I have gained enough experience so that I was able to plan a project, build partners and make new friends in such a short amount of time, the thing that helped a lot in exchanging experiences amongst us. My project will be peace circles and discussion groups for women ages 10 to 25. Women will of course be the main force in the project, since women are not only less violent than men but also more affected by war. Besides bearing the responsibility of caring for her family while men are restricted in movement and they are more into fighting. I have chosen this age group of women since they are the ones with the energy and enthusiasm and have more time, since the project is going to be implemented during summer, so they won’t have so much study. They will be free to build this network, especially the online network”

Participant Maya told us about a part of her project:
“I am so happy that I presented my project. It was such a great experience with a positive effect. What raised my self-trust was the applause at the end of the presentation due to the specialty of the project, which targets kids of displaced people in the Lattakia province. I am a volunteer in a kindergarten for displaced children in Lattakia and I have witnessed kidnapping of the children. The number of kidnapped children reached five in the school I am working in. This has pushed me to write such a proposal that may make a change in the life of those kids.
The training was so important and useful, but there was pressure of time and information although the trainers did a great effort in simplifying things, delivering the ideas, interacting with us and answering all questions.”

The Peace Circles project led by Syrian women is a part of the program “Women for the future of Syria” which aims mainly at including women and enabling them for leadership and real participation in deciding the shape of society and building the state, starting from the local narrow space till participating in decision making on the state level.

Peace Activists’ Search for Smile and Hope


With this belief, the participants completed the eight days training on planning and skills development amidst the project of promoting participation in the Syrian peace process, as part of the Peace Building program implemented by The Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria in partnership with Peaceful Change Initiative. Twenty-four members of CCSDS field staff and partner organizations attended the workshop. The goal was to develop work methodologies during a whole weak and to increase the capacities to offer advice, support and training on advocacy for activities of resolving disputes. An action plan has been developed to start peace campaigns to be implemented inside Syria during the coming months.
The workshop covered many active aspects in peace building. During the first three days the concept of “peace resources” was introduced (individuals, organizations and work mechanisms) and how to use and integrate them to achieve best efficiency for the efforts done and for strengthening the relations that could promote communication among the tracks.


In the fourth and fifth days, there was a discussion about the bases of analyzing conflicts and techniques to resolve them facilitated by trainer Rami Shamma. The participants implemented also negotiation and facilitation skills in many activities, roles and practical training.
In the last two days the work was on planning and exchanging ideas on new initiatives to support peace resources that will be implemented inside Syria. The participants defined criteria for good initiatives that should cope with the local culture and the priorities of the society for the sake of trust building between parties to reach partnership with local leaders and decision makers. There was an agreement that any work should give people three main things: knowledge, hope and needed tools to achieve peace.

Interaction among participants during the second phase of the Peace Resources project has come up with results that have been implemented on ground such as resolving the conflict of forming the local council in Deir Azzour province. The solution was based on the traditions of the region there and the specialty of the social environment. This experience is being worked on to cover other work regions in relevance with the community and the situation in each area.
At the end of the workshop, the project director Ahmad Shiekh Sidi declared that our project will continue looking for peace resources and that we are open to meet all parties. He invited to communicate with all members of the project via the website of CCSDS in order to get used of every effort to resettle the local communities in crises. He assured that work starts from the grassroots, and that their opinion should be taken into consideration, then to analyze those views to be the main source of the negotiation process going on in relation to the Syrian situation.

CCSDS’ s Position on Presidential Election 2014


Article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights states: “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
Today, Syria is experiencing exceptional circumstances that have never been witnessed before. This is a time when the machines of war kill dozens of victims every day of this bloody conflict; shelling and displacement is still the normal scene in most areas. No initiative has been able to stop the onslaught of this meaningless war, which will eventually propel all Syrians into an uncertain future capable of the worst possibilities.  Instead of directing efforts toward an effective solution to this conflict, the regime has chosen to hold superficial elections in order to shut out opposing parties and solidify their power.
In light of this situation, and in accordance with our principles at the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria, we are hereby presenting our position of the presidential elections in Syria. We believe the elections won’t contribute to a solution but rather, will create even more chaos and expand the social divide further. Holding elections in the midst of a war undermines all attempts to implement initiatives that could lead to a solution. This decision cannot be made solely by a political party that forces its will and continues to wage war and destruction upon the Syrian people. In order to support our position, in May of 2014 the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria undertook a survey to determine the opinions of Syrian people regarding the upcoming presidential election. CCSDS worked through its nine satellite offices within Syria to disseminate the questionnaire to 9,940 people and held twelve discussion forums to get qualitative data to compliment and support the survey. Participants were asked to give their opinion on whether they would vote in the 2014 presidential election, if they felt the timing of the election was appropriate, if the elections could aid in finding a solution for the current crisis in Syria, and if a future election that was fair, free and inclusive would lead to stability.
All Syrians should be responsible for ending the conflict by finding a way to prevent division of the country and persistence of the war. This can be accomplished through resuming the negotiation process in order to reach a consensus that is suitable for the future of the country. Only then can we hold presidential elections as the start of a democratic transformation for Syria.

To read the result of the presidential election poll , please click on the following link :

Transitional Justice in Syria


The Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria, CCSDS has published a survey about Transitional Justice in Syria that was built upon a project by the center called “Let’s Discuss!” The idea behind the project was to introduce the concept of transitional justice, explain its mechanisms and recognize the methods of implementing it in Syria, solicit suggestions from the Syrian people about the best forms for this implementation in the future, and encourage people to peacefully attain their political objectives and achieve coexistence.

The project began by initiating discussion circles in most of the Syrian provinces, with a focus on three: Aleppo, Idlib, and Al Hasaka. The targeted audience was also consulted through questionnaires distributed at the end of each discussion circle. The number of the questionnaires reached 1,000; however, the aim is to reach 10,000 participants in 2014. This survey raises a number of necessary and important questions driven by analysis of participants’ answers in the questionnaires. After the CCSDS research team collected the questionnaires and analyzed the results, they came up with a number of results that indicated Syrian perspectives on the ground.

The research team believes that all Syrians should contemplate those results and consider solutions. The research also sheds light on the experiences of some countries, which were/are still involved in the transitional justice process such as Morocco, South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. The report also discusses the advantages and disadvantages for such a process in order to be relevant for and applicable to the Syrian situation.

It is worth mentioning that the world has witnessed more than 30 experiences of transitional justice, so it is necessary, and viable, for Syria to put an end to the armed conflict and start healing its wounds in order to then to start rebuilding what has been destroyed on economic, social, and cultural levels. Rebuilding through a process of transitional justice is critical for any country that witnessed conflict. In order to start a natural stage of prosperity, to resolve the complex cases preceding and dealing with the conflict, it is necessary to go through the process of transitional justice and to implement its mechanisms and create new mechanisms that are suitable in its own national context, in addition to increasing public familiarity with the previous experiences of other countries. So, it is the duty of all Syrians to begin to establish a clear vision of this stage, for it is incredibly significant for them to make the first step to build their desired state.

To read and download the Report, please click on the following link:

Center For Civil Society And Democray In Syria | CCSDS

Arabic version

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