المؤسسة السورية للدراسات وأبحاث الرأي العام
Determinants of A Syrian Social Contract and Living Together Principles.. Analytical Study for the Indicators of the World Council of Churches Survey

Determinants of A Syrian Social Contract and Living Together Principles.. Analytical Study for the Indicators of the World Council of Churches Survey

Determinants of A Syrian Social Contract and Living Together Principles

Analytical Study for the Indicators of the World Council of Churches Survey

 

 

 

Firas Haj Yahya: Syrian Lawyer and Researcher

 12/07/2023

 

 

First - Methodological Introduction:

The subject of the determinants of a social contract and the principles of living together in Syria is one of the key important topics for Syrians. The World Council of Churches (WCC)[1] conducted a survey asking a sample of Syrians with the aim of collecting opinions and perspectives of a variety of individuals from different races and ethnicities in Syria. This can provide valuable insights about the interests and priorities of the different groups in Syria and can help provide input to the peace process in Syria at the formal level by sharing the outputs in conferences related to the Syrian issue, in particular in the sessions of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva and the United Nations corridors. The importance of the WCC process at the grassroots level is that it involves a wide range of Syrian women and men from various regions in its discussion, through their direct participation in the dialogue sessions or through answering the survey.

 

Perhaps the key aspect of this survey lies in the seriousness of the subject it deals with, which is the Syrian social contract, which has not been addressed in similar international projects that worked on the Syrian issue. Discussing and developing determinants of a social contract is an important matter for countries going through popular revolutions or armed conflicts, because this should help establishing a framework for building a stable and inclusive society. A social contract is a set of agreements or principles that define the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the government. It serves as the basis for a functioning state, but in a country like Syria, where there is a great diversity of religious, racial and ethnic components, it becomes particularly important to discuss and develop the determinants of a new social contract, because a diverse society can be more susceptible to conflicts and divisions. A new social contract can help ensure that all groups are represented and their rights are protected. Different groups can come together and agree on the principles that will govern their society, and this can help in fostering a sense of shared ownership and investment in the country's future. In addition, the new social contract can also help boost culture of dialogue and understanding, which is essential to resolving conflicts and building lasting peace.

 

The findings of the survey may also play an important role in shaping the future of Syria by providing a basis for understanding the different views and priorities of the different groups in the country. It may also serve as a starting point for talks and negotiations between the different parties, as it provides a common understanding of the issues raised and the proposed solutions. In addition, the findings may also help in developing a new social contract for Syria, which is necessary to build a stable and solid society in a country like Syria, which suffers from the aftermath of an armed conflict that has been going on for more than a decade.

 

The importance of this analytical study of the findings of the twenty-point paper and the associated survey is that it may provide valuable insights into the views and priorities of different groups in Syria. By analyzing the findings of the survey, we can identify the patterns, trends and themes that emerged from the data. This can help in understanding The interests and priorities of the different groups in Syria, which could inform the peace process and the development of a new social contract for the post 2011 Syria.

 

This study aims at a socio-political analysis of the twenty-point paper developed by the WCC, under the title "Towards the Foundations of Living Together and Determinants of a Syrian Social Contract", in order to identify specific indicators that can be used to build a new social contract for Syria.

 

In addition, this study can provide a detailed analysis of the methodology used in the survey, which will help in assessing the reliability and validity of the data. Furthermore, by understanding the limitations of the survey and the context in which it was conducted, we will be able to put the results into perspective and draw more accurate conclusions. It may provide an impartial perspective for the WCC's Syrian-Syrian Dialogue Project, and can also be used by other organizations, researchers, and policy makers as a reference.

 

To achieve the objectives of this study, the analytical deductive methodology was adopted to derive indicators from the paper and findings of the survey it was based on. The methodology of the study also includes the following:

 

  • Reviewing the survey's questions and identifying main topics or issues that the survey aims to explore.
  • Reviewing the survey findings for patterns or trends that are emerging, and calculate summary statistics.
  • Examining responses of different sub-groups and how responses differ based on these sub-affiliations.
  • Identifying the main indicators emerging from the data and using them to build a new social contract for Syria.

 

Second - The World Council of Churches: Objectives, Relevance, and Activities.

ِِِِA- World Council of Churches (WCC):

The WCC is a church-based organization that contains a congregation of churches and it aims to promote Christian unity and cooperation among member churches. It was founded in 1948 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WCC is made up of more than 350 member churches from 120 different countries and regions around the world, representing more than 560 million Christians from the Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and other churches.[2]

 

B- Objectives of the World Council of Churches:

The main objectives of the WCC are to promote Christian unity, work for peace and justice, and engage in advocacy on behalf of marginalized and persecuted people. The organization carries out its work through a variety of means, including interfaith dialogue, advocacy, and humanitarian and development programmes.

 

C- WCC Activities in Countries Undergoing Armed Conflicts:

WCC has been active in many countries that have experienced internal armed conflict as well as in countries currently experiencing conflicts, including but not limited to:

 

  • In the Middle East, providing humanitarian assistance and advocacy For the benefit of Palestinian refugees and other victims of conflict in the region.[3]
  • In South Africa, it supported the anti-apartheid movement and defended the rights of the black people in South Africans.[4]
  • In Latin America, it supported efforts to promote peace and human rights during the period of military dictatorship in many countries.[5]
  • In the Balkans, the WCC has been actively working with other churches and religious organizations to promote reconciliation and healing in the aftermath of conflict in the 1990s.[6]

 

D- The WCC and its Role in the Syrian-Syrian Societal Dialogue

The Syrian-Syrian Dialogue Project, sponsored by the WCC, is an initiative aimed at facilitating dialogue between different societal, religious, ethnic and cultural groups in Syria with the aim of promoting democracy, human rights and coexistence. The project started in 2012 and has gone through several phases, including the formation of a “partnership network” and the development of a document outlining the causes of conflict and potential solutions. The project also includes a focus on education and social justice, as well as the concept of the state and “democratic” and “civilian” citizenship. In 2019, the project resulted in the publication of a paper summarizing the results of the research teams, a survey was distributed to a diverse group of individuals in order to probe opinions on the proposed social contract for Syria.[7]

 

E- Phases of the WCC Involvement on the Syrian Issue:[8]

1- In the second half of 2012, a number of Syrian personalities asked the WCC to sponsor and facilitate dialogue between Syrian women and men. The WCC responded by facilitating dialogue meetings among Syrians, based on the respect of “Chatham House” rules which indicate mentioning and using abstract information without mentioning the source or who said the referred piece of information or opinion, nor the names of the participants and the place and date of the meeting.

2- The meetings facilitated by the Council between 2012 and 2015 resulted in the formulation of a “common narrative” titled “The Will of Syrian Consensus” in which the motives and causes of the conflict were analyzed, a common vision for a solution was presented, and a common vision for the future of Syria was presented. A vision based on common Christian, Islamic and human values ​​that can be considered founding principles for modern Syria. At the request of, and in coordination with, the group that drafted that document, the WCC drew up plans for a wider publication of the document or its contents at times (as possible). It identified seven themes for discussion selected from the "Consensus Will", upon which research teams and in-depth discussion in Syria and in neighboring countries have been designed. With the aim of creating a broad discussion aimed at promoting the culture of dialogue and developing the document, in a way that contributes to the restoration of the Syrian social fabric.

3- At the end of 2016, based on the outputs of the series of discussions, the paper was developed into a paper of principles titled “Determinants of the Syrian Social Contract." Four themes inspired by the contents of the will of consensus were proposed and focused on in new working groups, namely: principles of transitional justice - principles of the relationship between religion and the state - principles of social justice - principles for a new educational system.

4- In January 2018, a preliminary paper was drafted summarizing the outputs of the research teams' work on the four aforementioned themes, and it was entitled: “Foundations of Living Together and Determinants for a Syrian Social Contract.” In May 2018, it was proposed to expand the topics of discussion, and three other themes were also adopted, emanating from the "Syrian Consensus Will", namely: What does a 'democratic' and 'civil' state mean in the Syrian context? (The concept of the modern state); what is the concept of “citizenship” in the context of religious affiliation and before the law? What is the concept of individual freedoms versus societal sense of belonging?

5- In March 2019, efforts were made to merge the results available from the various groups into one paper consisting of twenty points, entitled “Towards Foundations for a Common Living and Determinants for a Syrian Social Contract” and then it was published to a sample composed of 9,772 Syrian citizens of various religious and ethnic affiliations through physical and online surveys with the help of a team of field researchers.

F- The Importance of the Role Played by WCC in the Syrian-Syrian Dialogue

The importance of this role is highlighted by the importance of the role of dialogue in resolving problems, bringing points of view closer, and for each party to listen to the other. The idea of dialogue is based on facilitating meetings between Syrian women and men from civil society and actors and from different societal, religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, united by belief in the values of democracy, human rights and coexistence, in order to keep pace with peace efforts, leading to the formation of a joint group to build a new social contract for the future Syrian state.

 

Third - Analysis of the Survey's Findings

In this section, finings of the survey were analyzed by showing the relationship between ethnic affiliation and the religious and sectarian affiliation (separate variables) with the determinants of the social contract and the foundations of Syrian coexistence (dependent variables), where ethnic and religious affiliation are considered important factors in shaping the social and political scene in the Syrian case. Both can have a significant impact on how individuals view and respond to issues related to peace and conflict.

 

A- Demographic characteristics of the study sample:

 

1- The sample of the survey reached 9772 Syrian men and women, from inside Syria, from all governorates, and from all  countries of asylum.

 

2- The study tried to include all denominational religious affiliations. The sample was distributed as follows: 75.7% Sunnis, 4.27% Alawites, 25% Druze, 1.59% Ismailis, 0.552% Shiites, 0.184% Murshidis, and 7.88% Christians.

 

When we compare these percentages with the religious and denominational distribution of Syrians, we find that the study sample took into account the distribution of Syrians according to their different denominational affiliations, and it can be fairly said that they were correctly represented. The religious affiliations of Syrians are distributed according to the World Factbook issued by the CIA 2017, as follow: Sunni Muslims (74%),  Shiite Muslims (13%), Alawites (11%), Ismailis (1%) The Ithna Ashariyyah Imamites (0.5%), Christians make up an additional 10% of the population and  the remaining 3% include a combination of Druze, Jews and atheists.[9]

 

3- The study also tried to include all the main national components in Syria: 87.6% Arabs, 13.4% Kurds, 3.6% Turkmens, 2.4% Assyrians - Syriacs, 0.9% Armenians. Based on the ethnic diversity, we also find that the sample largely represented the true percentages of Syrians, as the percentages, according to a study issued by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in 2015, were as follows:[10] Arabs: 87.9%, Kurds 8.9%, Turkmen 0,7%, Armenians 0.8%, Assyrians and Chaldeans 1.1%, while the percentage of Circassians and Chechens is 0.05%.

4- Gender: Males: 54,36, compared to females: 45,64. The survey was also able to obtain a fair representation between males and females and approached their actual number. According to the statistics of the Central Bureau of Statistics in Syria for the year 2017, the percentage of females was 48.91%, while the percentage of males was 51.09%.[11]

5- Educational attainment: holders of university degree: 47.47%, high school diploma: 28.1%, postgraduate studies: 11.04%, preparatory school: 9.33%.

Place of residence: Residents in Syria: 3,388, refugees 2,985, IDPs: 968, and residents outside Syria: 917, with a total of 8,258, while the remaining number of 1,514 did not specify their current place of residence. The study sample also represented all Syrian governorates in varying proportions.

 

B- Determinants of the Syrian Social Contract

 

1- Syria is a sovereign state committed to preserving its territorial integrity and restoring all of its occupied territories by all possible and legitimate means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

 

The highest percentage of respondents agreed on this determinant with 59.28%, 29.89% strongly agreed, and 3.62% opposed it.

It was found that all ethnic and religious affiliations agreed in very close proportions on this determinant, therefore there were no significant statistical differences based on ethnic affiliation. As for denominational affiliation, the percentage of opposition to this item among those belonging to the Shiite sect was 33.33%, followed by 25% among Alawites, while it was at 5.99% among Sunnis. The different result came among Christians, Ismailis and Murshidis, where none of them opposed it.

This indicates that people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds agree in very close proportions with this determinant. This is a positive indicator showing the Syrians' sense of unity. The only exception is the opposition of some Shiites and Alawites. However, this does not necessarily represent the opinion of the two denominations entirely, especially that the sample of the Shiites and Alawites was small. 

 

2- Syria is a democratic state in which sovereignty resides in the people, who are the source of powers. It is based on political pluralism, the peaceful transfer of power, the principle of citizenship, the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the independence of the judiciary. It abolishes exceptional courts and prevents their formation.

 

It was found that most of the study sample agreed with this statement, with a percentage of 32.03% that responded with strongly agree and 54.75% agree. On the other hand, only 5.34% responded with disagree and 3.64% strongly disagree, while 3.35% were not interested.

It was found that there are no significant statistical differences based on ethnic, religious or denominational affiliation on this determinant. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

3- The state stands at the same distance from all religions, creeds, ethnicities and components, and is based on common coexistence, and criminalizes hate speech and incitement to violence.

 

Most of the study sample confirmed that they strongly agree with this statement by 33.81%, and 53.69% agree with it, whereas 5.44% disagree and 2.7% strongly disagree, compared to 3.53% who niehter agree nor disagree with this determinant.

No significant statistical differences were found based on ethnic affiliation, while there were significant statistical differences according to denominational affiliation. The highest percentage of those who rejected it came from those belonging to the Sunni denomination at a percentage of 6% disagree, 3.28% strongly disagree, and the Shiites disagree with it at a percentage of 5, 56%.

In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe that it is important for the state to be neutral and to promote coexistence among different religious, ethnic and sectarian groups, as well as to criminalize hate speech and incitement to violence. This is an important basis for building a new social contract for Syria.

 

4- Syria is committed to the International Bill of Human Rights, the principles of international law, and international and regional treaties.

 

It was foung that 30.14% strongly agree, followed by 56.78% agree, compared to 5.07% who disagree with this determinant, and 2.91% strongly disagree with it, while 4.02% neither agree nor disagree.

It was found that there were no significant statistical differences according to ethnic affiliation, but when it comes to religious affiliation, the percentage of opponents increased among some of those who belong to the Sunni denomination, reaching 5.32%, and those who strongly disagree to 3.39%. Also, among those belonging to the Shiite denomination, 7.41% disagree and 3.07% strongly disagree.

This indicates that there is a general consensus among Syrians on the importance of adhering to international human rights standards, international law, and regional treaties.

 

5- All Syrian women and men are equal citizens before and under the law. They have the right to full political participation and to hold public office, including the presidency, on the basis of merit without discrimination, and within the framework of political competition based on free and fair elections.

 

It was found that 34.71% strongly agree and 50.67% agree, compared to 6.2% who disagree and 3.69% strongly disagree, and 3.55% neither agree nor disagree.

By examining these results in terms of ethnic affiliation of the study sample, the highest percentage of disagreement with this determinant was among the Kurds, with 6.71% disagreed, and 3.13% strongly disagreed, as well as among those belonging the Arab ethnicity with 6.31% disagreed and 3.85% strongly disagreed. With regard to religious affiliation, the highest percentage of disagreement was among Sunnis, with 6.62% disagreed and 4.13% strongly disagreed.

The results indicate that there is a general consensus among Syrians on the importance of gender equality and equal political participation for all citizens.

 

6-The constitution guarantees public and individual freedoms; the right to form political parties and civil society organizations, including syndicates and others; freedom of thought, opinion, expression, media and peaceful assembly and demonstration. It also guarantees freedom of belief, conscience, and the exercise of rituals.

 

The results showed that 30.29% strongly agree, 51.68% agree, compared to 6.83% disagree, 5.42% strongly disagree, and 4.33% neither agree nor disagree.

It was found that there are statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in opposing this determinant. The highest percentage of those opposing this determinant was among the Turkmen, as 12.99% strongly disagreed and 10.73% disagreed, followed by the Kurdish component with 8.77% disagreed and 6 71% strongly disagreed. With regard to religious affiliation, the highest percentage of opponents was among Sunnis with 7.35% disagreed and 6.2% strongly disagreed, and Shiites 5.56% disagreed and 3.7% strongly disagreed.

The results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of protecting civil and individual liberties, which is an important basis for building a new social contract for Syria.

 

7- The constitution guarantees the neutrality of the state towards religion and religious institutions, ensuring the separation of state institutions from religious institutions, and ensuring that the authority does not employ religion nor does religion exploit the authority.

 

It was found that 30.12% strongly agree, and 52.17% agree, compared to 8.04% disagree, 3.53% strongly disagree, and 5.21% neither agree nor disagree.

It was found that there were no significant statistical differences based on ethnic affiliation. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of opponents increased among Sunnis, as 9.23% disagreed, and 4.18% strongly disagreed. There is opposition to this item from all sects and among Christians at low and convergent rates.

The results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of state's neutrality towards religion and religious institutions. This is a positive indicator, and an important basis for building a new social contract for Syria.

 

8- The constitution guarantees that state laws do not conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that these laws derive from Islamic legal schools of jurisprudence, as well as from international legal schools.

It was found that 22.97% strongly agree and 53.39% agree, compared to 9.52% disagree, 3.53% strongly disagree, and 6.74% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in opposing this determinant, where the highest percentage came among the Syriacs, as 31.56% disagreed and 9.43% strongly disagreed with it, followed by the Armenians who strongly disagreed with 18.18% and 15.91% disagreed. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of opponents increases among those belonging to the Ismaili denomination, as the percentage of those who strongly disagree with this determinant reached 50% of those included in the sample. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

9- The State guarantees to the individual the freedom of choice in adjudicating their personal status issues by resorting to civil, Sharia, ecclesiastical, or denominational courts.

 

It was found that 23.33% strongly agree, and 54.85% agree, compared to 9.21% who disagree, and 4.19% strongly disagree, and 6.35% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

10- Recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity which should be included in the constitutional rights. Arabic language shall be the official language of the state; and the state guarantees the right to education and learning for every ethnicity in its own language.

 

It was found that 27.96% strongly agree, and 57.47% agree, compared to 5.14% disagree, 2.72% strongly disagree, and 4.74% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there are statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in opposing this determinant, where the highest percentage came among the Kurds, with 8.99% disagreed and 5.6% strongly disagreed, followed by Turkmens with 5.37% disagreed and 3.11% strongly disagreed. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of those who opposed it has risen among the Shiites, as 14.81% disagreed and 1.85% strongly disagreed. They were followed by the Murshidis, with 11.11% then the Alawites, 9.57%, and 1.44% strongly disagreed with it.

The reason for the Kurds and Turkmens’ disagreement with this determinant may be related to the fact that they have been historically marginalized in Syria, where they have been denied recognition of their cultural and linguistic rights for decades, therefore perhaps they do not trust the state’s commitment to recognizing and respecting their diversity. In addition, they may also have concerns about the state’s ability to fulfill its obligations towards cultural and linguistic rights in practice and application. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant.

 

11- Everyone has the right to work and to join trade unions.

 

It was found that 36.35% strongly agree and 56.82% agree, compared to 2.65% who disagree and 1.15% who strongly disagree. A percentage of 2.67% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

12- The state protects the right to individual property.

 

It was found that 38.89% strongly agree and 54.04% agree, compared to 2.48% who disagree and 1.37% strongly disagree. 2.86% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

13- The state guarantees the fair distribution of national income, the achievement of balanced and sustainable development among all Syrian regions, and the adoption of administrative and economic decentralization in the constitution.

 

It was found that 31.06% strongly agree, and 55.94% agree, compared to 4.99% who disagree, and 2.56% strongly disagree, while 4.55% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

14- The state guarantees the right to health and social care, the right to housing and food, environmental justice, giving adequate attention to the elderly and people with special needs, and is fully committed to the rights of the child.

 

It was found that 42.73% strongly agree and 49.24% agree, compared to 3.31% who disagree and 1.89% strongly disagree, while 2.46% neither disagree nor agree.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

15- The laws of the state are fair in a way that guarantees full and equal rights for women, and ensure that they are empowered to obtain these rights and reach decision-making positions, and to activate their role in various sectors, including that women representation is no less than 30%.

 

It was found that 27.46% strongly agree, and 54.02% agree, compared to 6.42% who disagree.

There were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. It should be noted that 6.21% of females disagreed with this determinant and 2.6% strongly disagreed. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

16- The state guarantees the right to free education in all its stages, including university education. Education shall be compulsory until the end of basic education. The state guarantees the right of young people to participate in setting public policies and decision-making.

 

It was found that 40.78% strongly agree, 52.3% agree, while 2.22% disagree, 0.95% strongly disagree, and 2.52% neither disagree nor agree with this item.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

17- The mandate of the national army is to defend the country within its natural, internationally recognized borders against external aggressions. Its members are prohibited from interfering in politics, and its work is subject to parliamentary oversight and judicial accountability.

 

It was found that 36.52% strongly agree, 53.69% agree, while 3.04% disagree, 2.2% strongly disagree, and 3.95% neither disagree nor agree with this item.

It was found that there were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of opposition among the Murshidis was high, 11.11%, followed by Alawites, 6.22%.

The high rate of agreement across different religious and national affiliations indicates that this determinant can be seen as a relatively unified issue among Syrians. The higher opposition among Murshidis and Alawites may also indicate that these groups may have different views on the role of the army and its relationship to the government.

 

18- The security and police services are subject in their work to the standards of international law of human rights, and they are the only ones authorized to carry and use weapons inside the country to enforce the law and protect citizens, each according to thier respective competence. Members thereof are prohibited from interfering in politics, and their work is subject to parliamentary oversight and judicial accountability.

 

It was found that 34.47% strongly agree, 55.21% agree, while 3.2% disagree, 2.42% strongly disagree, and 4.36% neither disagree nor agree with this item.

There are no statistically significant differences. Based on ethnic affiliation. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of those who disagree with it increases among Murshidis, as it is rejected by 11.11%. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

19- Torture and violence should be criminalized as a continuous crime that does not fall under the statute of limitations, and all forms of direct, structural and cultural violence should be combated.

 

It was found that 40.4% strongly agree, 50.43% agree, compared to 2.84% disagree, 2.31% strongly disagree, and 3.57% neither disagree nor agree.

There were no statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of those who disagree was higher among the Ismailis, reaching 3.21% who strongly disagree, and among the Druze, 3.11%. In general, the results indicate that the majority of Syrians believe in the importance of this determinant in building a new social contract.

 

20- The state guarantees the right of refugees to return voluntarily and safely to their areas of original residence, and it should compensate them for the material and moral damage they have suffered. The state should guarantee that returning and non-returning refugees obtain their Syrian official documents.

 

It was found that 41.4% strongly agree, 48.11% agree, 3.46% disagree, and 2.47% strongly disagree, compared to 3.87% neither disagree nor agree.

 

It was found that there are statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in opposing this determinant, where the highest percentage came among the Armenians, with a 9.09% strongly disagree and 2.27% disagree. As for religious affiliation, the disagreement rate among Murshidis was high with 5.56% disagreeing with it, and a similar percentage, 5.56%, among the Shiites, while among the Alawites, the disagreement rate was 4.07%, and 2.15% strongly disagree.

 

The high percentage of respondents agreeing to this determinant indicates that the majority of Syrians believe in the right of refugees to return to their original areas and to be compensated for any damages they may have suffered. Statistically significant differences in opposition based on ethnic affiliation, specifically between Armenians and Alawites, may be related to concerns about the potential impact of refugee return on their communities or potential challenges in providing compensation for damages. In addition, the high level of opposition among Shiites may be due to their minority status in the country, and concerns about their representation in the return and compensation process.

 

C- Syrians’ opinion on elements of the Syrian national identity.

In the dialogue sessions and through hundreds of workshops and questionnaires, WCC presented elements of the Syrian identity that were included in the following statement: “Syria is a country with a human and civilized identity, based on a history and geography that changed through the ages, and on a will to live together to guarantee its common interests, the constant in it remained to be the ethnic, religious and civilizational diversity of its local communities. Syria is an active member in the international system, and it belongs to its wider geographic and Arab surroundings." Responses to this question were as follows: 30.01% strongly agree, 61,43% agree, 3.39% are not interested, 2.79% disagree, 1.14% strongly disagree, and 1.24% had a different opinion.

 

It turned out that there are statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in opposition to this determinant. The highest percentage came among the Syriacs, with 6.56% disagreed, and 1.64% strongly disagreed, followed by the Kurds, with 4.5% disagreed and 1.58% strongly disagreed with it. Then came the Turkmens with 3.11% disagreed with it. Religious affiliation had no statistical significance.

 

Based on the results, it seems that the majority of Syrians agree that Syria has a human and civilized identity, and it is an active member of the world order, and a part of the Arab ecosystem. However, there is a small percentage of Syrians, especially among the Syriacs and Kurds, who disagree with this view. This likely indicates that these national components may have different perceptions of the Syrian national identity or may have experienced different historical and political contexts that shape their understanding of what it means to be Syrian. In addition, the fact that religious affiliation does not appear to have much influence on responses indicates that opinions about national identity may not be primarily driven by religious differences among Syrians.

 

D- Syrian public opinion on the importance and effectiveness of the determinants of the social contract:

The questionnaire also included a survey of the Syrian public opinion through the sample to measure the extent of satisfaction and the importance of the twenty-point paper with its determinants of the Syrian social contract, through the sample’s answer

to the following four questions:

 

1- The twenty-point paper, with the contents it has, forms a Syrian public opinion that put pressure on decision-making circles through the results of the study.

 

It was found that 30.01% strongly agree, 61.43% agree, 2.79% disagree, and 1.14% strongly disagree, whereas 3.39% neither disagree nor agree. No statistically significant differences based on ethnic or religious affiliation were found.

 

2- The adoption of the content of the paper entitled “Towards the Foundations for Living Together and the Determinants of a Syrian Social Contract” by a wide segment of Syrian women and men will contribute to the crystallization of a new social contract that establishes their future and the future of their country.

 

It was found that 19.82% strongly agree, 62.28% agree, 10.39% neither disagree nor agree, whereas 5.79% disagree, and 1.11% strongly disagree.

Statistically significant differences were found based on ethnic affiliation in opposing this determinant. The opposition to it was among the Turkmens by 9.89%, and among the Armenians by 9.09%. As for religious affiliation, the percentage of opposition increased with the highest rate, reaching 8.97%.

 

3- The adoption of the content of the paper entitled "Towards the Foundations for Living Together and Determinants of a Syrian Social Contract" by a wide segment of Syrian women and men will not contribute to finding a solution to the current situation in Syria because it has become "completely" dependent on the roles of the countries actively involved in the Syrian arena.

 

It turned out that 13.73% strongly agree, 45.53% agree, and 15.38% neither disagree nor agree. In contrast, 18.37% disagree, and 6.01% strongly disagree with it.

It was found that there were statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation in the opposition to this determinant. The opposition to it came among the Kurds with a rate of 22.75% who disagree, and 6.27% who strongly disagree with it, followed by Turkmens with a rate of 21.81% who disagree, and 10.2% who strongly disagree with it. As for religious affiliation, opposition to it rises among Christians at a rate of 21.22% who disagree, and 5.99% who strongly disagree with it, followed by Murshidis, with an opposition rate of 22.22%.

 

4- The adoption of the content of the paper entitled “Towards the Foundations for Living Together and Determinants of a Syrian Social Contract” by a wide segment of Syrian women and men gives them an opportunity to have control over finding an internal Syrian-Syrian solution.

 

It was found that 18.93% of respondents strongly agree, 58.62% agree, and 13.46% neither disagree nor agree, while 6.9% disagree and 1.38% strongly disagree with it.

There were not statistically significant differences based on ethnic affiliation, but in terms of religious affiliation, the percentage of opposition is higher among Ismailis, with 10.26% who disagree and 1.24% strongly disagree with it.

 

The results of general satisfaction among Syrians indicate that they have a general positive attitude towards the determinants of the social contract mentioned in the twenty-point paper. However, there are some differences in the level of agreement and disagreement depending on the determinant and the demographics of respondents, such as ethnic and religious affiliations.

For example, the specific right of refugees to return voluntarily and safely to their areas of original residence has received lower levels of agreement among certain ethnic groups such as Armenians and Alawites. Similarly, determinants of the state's neutrality toward religion and religious institutions received higher levels of opposition among the Sunni denomination.

Responses to the survey questions about the importance and effectiveness of the determinants of the social contract also reflect some of the challenges and concerns Syrians have regarding the possibility of implementing and achieving these determinants in the current context of Syria. For example, some respondents expressed their doubts that the adoption of the twenty-point paper would lead to finding a solution to the current situation in Syria, or that it will give Syrians an opportunity to take control over their affairs in order to find an internal Syrian-Syrian solution.

 

In general, it can be inferred from these results that Syrians are aware of the importance of the social contract in building a cohesive and inclusive society, but there are some reservations about the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed determinants in the current political and social context of Syria.


Third: Conclusions

Based on the above, we can conclude the following:

  1. The majority of Syrians support formulating a new social contract that includes elements such as equal citizenship, freedom of thought, expression, and religion, and protection of human rights.
  2. There is support for a secular state that is neutral towards religion and that separates state institutions from religious institutions.

  3. There is support for the protection of refugee rights and for a national army subject to parliamentary oversight and judicial accountability.

  4. On the other hand, there were lower levels of agreement observed on some areas, such as the recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity and the inclusion of different ethnic languages ​​in education, where there are some ethnic components, such as Kurds, Turkmens and Armenians who are more opposed to some elements of the proposed social contract. In addition, some groups, such as the Alawites, Ismailis, and Druze, are more likely to oppose certain elements of the proposed social contract, such as the role of the national army, or the inclusion of Islamic law in the legal system.

  5. We can note that a large percentage of Syrians are neutral or not interested in the proposed social contract, which indicates that there is a need for more engagement with these groups to understand their concerns and ensure their inclusion in the process of building a new social contract. In addition, there are some Syrians who believe that the proposed social contract will not contribute to finding a solution to the current situation in Syria because it has become highly dependent on the roles of foreign actors.

Fourth - Proposals:

In conclusion, as a general rule it is important to continue communicating with all Syrians, taking into account the diversity of opinions and making sure that all groups are involved in the process of building a new social contract. It is also important to address the concerns of those who believe that the proposed social contract will not lead to a solution to the current situation in Syria, and seek to address those concerns, in order to create an inclusive agreement that would be accepted by the majority of Syrians.

Perhaps the most important recommendations that we can make based on these results are the following:

  1. In terms of national identity, there appears to be some disagreement among Syrians, particularly among certain ethnic groups such as Kurds and Syriacs, over the definition of Syria and its place in the world. More dialogue and discussion is recommended in order to address these concerns and build a more inclusive sense of national identity.

  2. With regard to religious issues, it is suggested that there be a clear separation between religion and the state, and that the state guarantees freedom of religion, while ensuring that the laws of the state do not conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that these laws are derived from schools of Islamic jurisprudence as well as other international legal schools.

  3. There are also some concerns about the role of the military, security and police agencies, so it is recommended that these institutions be subject to the standards of international human rights law and that their work should be subject to parliamentary oversight and judicial accountability.

  4. It is recommended that the state guarantee the right of refugees to return voluntarily and safely to their areas of original residence, compensate them for the material and moral damages they suffered, and ensure that returning and non-returning refugees obtain their Syrian documents.

  5. It is important for all stakeholders in a durable political solution acceptable to all Syrians to continue engaging in dialogue and discussion in order to build a new social contract that is inclusive and reflects the diverse needs and concerns of Syrians.

References:

 

[1] You can see the survey findings the topic of our analytical study on the following link:

https://bit.ly/3nNiXs5

[2] WCC website, last visited on 6 January 2023, avaialbel on: https://www.oikoumene.org/

[3] Website of the Danish organization Danchurcha, last visited 6 January 2023, available on https://bit.ly/3pHJv1A

[4] Hudson, Darril. “The World Council of Churches and Racism in Southern Africa.” International Journal, vol. 34, no. 3, 1979, pp. 475–500. JSTOR, https://bit.ly/3JSlCev ; Accessed 15 Jan. 2023

[5] Website of Church-and-Peace, last visited 15 January 2023, availble on: https://bit.ly/3pAEUyd   

[6] Ibid

[7] Booklet issued by WCC with the title « Peace Builders, the Intra-Syrian dialogue, Guidlines for the terminology and concpets of the Determinants of Social Contract

[8] Ibid

[9] Nina Evason, the Cultural Atlas, last visited on 16 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3pGLHX0

[10] Study published by King Faysal for Studies and Islamic Research in KSA in 2017, last visited on 19 January 2023, available at:
https://bit.ly/3XLwUa1

[11] Article publised by al-Hal Net: Asem al-Zoabi on 1 June 2022, last visited 18 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3O6wFmW    

 

 

 

To read the study as PDF file & download it from the Below corner
Copyright © 2023 

 

731.70 كيلوبايت

تابعنا على الفيسبوك

القائمة البريدية


تابعنا على تويتر

جميع الحقوق محفوطة للمؤسسة السورية للدراسات وأبحاث الرأي العام © 2024 / تنفيذ وتطوير شركة SkyIn /