Syrian civil society voices its demands to the Brussels VI Conference

For the sixth consecutive year, the Office of UN Special Envoy for Syria (OSE-Syria) convened a CSSR side event to the Brussels VI conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region from 27 to 29 April 2022. Forty-three civil society representatives, youth activists and experts, women and men, working inside Syria and in neighboring countries and Europe have held virtual closed discussions for three days on the main topics of the conference, including on civic space, the economic and livelihood situations of Syrians, humanitarian and protection issues, and youth perspectives for the future of Syria.

Participants are expected to work on a set of policy messages they will share with the UN Special Envoy, senior European External Action Services (EEAS) officials and CSSR donors on 5 May.

As in previous years, CSSR side events in Brussels and advocacy messages delivered at the Ministerial Meeting are key to channeling Syrian perspectives into the conference, demonstrating the importance of intra-Syrian dialogue and the inclusion of their voices in the political process.

CSSR Thematic Working Groups convene physically in Geneva

Geneva, 28 February 2022

Several months since their launch via the CSSR digital platform, the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria convened in Geneva the Thematic Working Groups of the Civil Society Support Room on the topics of civic space and values, as well as on the economy, recovery, and development perspectives. Participants who could not travel were able to participate virtually via the CSSR digital platform.

During this four-day meeting, the TWGs discussed the substantive issues covered in the respective groups, building on the work they conducted in previous sessions held virtually over the last few months. At the beginning of the round of consultations, UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen took careful note of the substantive and diverse inputs shared by the participants.

Earlier this week, Mr. Pedersen told the UN Security Council in his briefing that he looks forward to look resuming this direct engagement and to hearing the views, suggestions and ideas of this broad array of Syrian civil society actors.

The Civil Society Support Room (CSSR) was established in January 2016 by the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria (OSE-Syria) as a mechanism to consult with a broad and diverse range of civil society actors. Through the CSSR civil society actors can meet, interact, and provide their insights and ideas to the OSE-Syria, relevant UN actors and international stakeholders. This mechanism aims at making the UN mediation process more inclusive.

The OSE-Syria CSSR team endeavours to regularly review the CSSR’s format and processes as opportunities to do so arise, based on the inputs and insights of stakeholders during consultations and the priorities they convey to the OSE-Syria during CSSR consultations.

Civil society actors involvement in the Geneva process

UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) has mandated the UN SE to seek a sustainable solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria through an inclusive Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. As frequently highlighted in his briefings to the UN Security Council, the UN SE, Geir O. Pedersen, firmly believes that the voices and views of civil society organisations (CSOs) play a crucially important role in achieving this aim.

Furthermore, comparative research undertaken by the UN and other international organisations clearly suggests that efforts to include civil society in any political process is bound to have positive effects on the sustainability of both a peace accord and related peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts. Several international studies also suggest that civil society can provide invaluable insight and support to a formal mediation process.

The CSSR operates according to three key principles

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Picture: NOREF, CSSR round in Geneva. January 2020.
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