Constitution of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria
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politics and government of
Democratic Federation of Northern Syria
The Constitution of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, officially titled Charter of the Social Contract, is the provisional constitution of the self-proclaimed autonomous region of Syria known as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS). It was adopted on 29 January 2014, when the Democratic Union Party (PYD), claiming to represent the DFNS population, declared the three DFNS regions it controls autonomous from the Syrian government. Article 12 states the DFNS remains an "integral part of Syria", tentatively implementing an expected future federal Syrian governance in Northern Syria.
The constitution has gained much international attention and is most noted for its explicit affirmation of minority rights and gender equality and a form of direct democracy known as 'democratic confederalism'.
When the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011, the Syrian Kurdish parties avoided taking sides. When Syrian government forces retreated in mid-2012 to fight the mostly Arab rebels elsewhere, Kurdish groups gradually took control. On 12 July 2012, the two main political alliances in the DFNS, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) formed Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC) as the overarching governing body of all three self-proclaimed cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Jazira. A committee was appointed to write a transitional constitution. The PYD and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) soon became the dominant force, trying to establish one-party governance in November 2013, but in January 2014 it agreed to form a coalition government with the KNC.
Text of the preamble:
We, the people of the Democratic Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Jazira and Kobani, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens, freely and solemnly declare and establish this Charter.
In pursuit of freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and led by principles of equality and environmental sustainability, the Charter proclaims a new social contract, based upon mutual and peaceful coexistence and understanding between all strands of society. It protects fundamental human rights and liberties and reaffirms the peoples’ right to self-determination.
Under the Charter, we, the people of the Autonomous Regions, unite in the spirit of reconciliation, pluralism and democratic participation so that all may express themselves freely in public life. In building a society free from authoritarianism, militarism, centralism and the intervention of religious authority in public affairs, the Charter recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity and aspires to maintain domestic and international peace.
In establishing this Charter, we declare a political system and civil administration founded upon a social contract that reconciles the rich mosaic of Syria through a transitional phase from dictatorship, civil war and destruction, to a new democratic society where civic life and social justice are preserved.
General Principles (Articles 1–12)
The section "I General Principles" lists general principles. Article 4 lists the structure of the government. Article 3 and 5 lists the administrative centers of each canton. Article 12 confirms Rojava as an integral part of Syria.
Basic Principles (Articles 13–20)
The section "II General Principles" contains basic principles. Article 15 declares the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as the sole military force of Rojava.
Rights and Liberties (Articles 21–44)
The section "III Rights and Liberties" lists rights and liberties. Article 21 refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Legislative Assembly (Articles 45–53)
The section "IV Legislative Assembly" outlines the responsibilities of the Legislative Assembly.
Executive Council (Articles 54–62)
The section "V Executive Council" outlines the responsibilities of the Executive Council.
Judicial Council (Articles 63–75)
The section "VI Judicial Council" outlines the responsibilities of the Judicial Council.
Higher Commission of Elections (Article 76)
The section "VII Higher Commission of Elections" outlines the responsibilities of the Higher Commission of Elections.
Supreme Constitutional Court (Articles 77–80)
The section "VIII Supreme Constitutional Court" outlines the responsibilities of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
General Rules (Articles 81–96)
The section "IX General Rules" lists general rules including criteria for constitutional amendment and martial law. Article 95 lists the bodies of the executive council:
- Body of Foreign Relations
- Body of Defense
- Body of Internal Affairs
- Body of Justice
- Body of Cantonal and Municipal Councils and affiliated to it Committee of Planning and Census
- Body of Finance, and affiliated to it a)-Committee on Banking Regulations. b)- Committee of Customs and Excise
- Body of Social Affairs
- Body of Education
- Body of Agriculture
- Body of Energy
- Body of Health
- Body of Trade and Economic Cooperation
- Body of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs
- Body of Culture
- Body of Transport
- Body of Youth and Sports
- Body of Environment, Tourism and Historical Objects
- Body of Religious Affairs
- Body of Family and Gender Equality
- Body of Human Rights
- Body of Communications
- Body of Food Security
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