CCSD was established on December 1, 2011. The process of establishing a non-governmental organization requires many forms of support such as the availability of volunteers, funders, and supporters who believe in our work. CCSD’s work started from a circle of friends and supporters, and we went through a long stage of planning and searching for volunteers and funders to support our programs.
We initially relied on conducting online training courses through Skype, in which we used to gather 10 to 15 activists to train them on topics such as nonviolence tactics, capacity building, community-based reconciliations, combating violence and overcoming sectarian differences.
In June 2012, we started working on the ground inside Syria in three governorates: Al-Hassakeh, Damascus and Damascus Countryside.
We established a team of nine activists within the “Let’s Discuss” program. In order to cope with the security situation and to preserve the safety of our team, we held closed panel discussions. The topics focused on the tactics of nonviolence, transitional justice and domestic peace. In the same year, we started working on our website, and we conducted a training workshop on digital security in Istanbul.
In August 2012, we chose the city of Gaziantep, located on the Turkish border close to Syria, to be our duty station. We were the first organization to move to this quiet city. In the same year we completed two workshops for women, one in Gaziantep and the other in the Turkish border town of Kilis, a city in south-central Turkey near the Syrian border.
In February 2013, we opened our first three offices inside Syria. In July of the same year, we launched Suwar Magazine to promote civic awareness and human rights.
In October 2013 we opened six new offices, bringing our total number of offices to ten by the end of 2013. In October, we opened two offices in the Turkish cities of Şanlıurfa and Mersin. In November, we started operating in Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq.
What we have achieved has been the result of the collaborative efforts of the founders, members, volunteers, partners and supporters who contributed to building CCSD. During the first three years, we were able to reach more than 2,000 Syrian citizens, including 800 women, either through workshops or panel discussions on various topics, such as media, transitional justice, organizational development, negotiations and transparency.
We launched five campaigns and monitored two electoral processes. Since its founding, we have produced 40 issues of Suwar Magazine, and published a booklet on civil peace as well as a booklet on the strategy of negotiations. In addition, we published two research papers on transitional justice and peace resources. We have also developed a vision for a political solution in Syria.
In 2013, after more than a year of examination and analysis, we launched the Aman Network in partnership with the Peaceful Change Initiative, which works to resolve conflicts at the local and national levels.
The I Am She network was launched in 2014. The network promotes women’s issues and activates their leadership roles at the local and national levels.
In 2016 the Syrian Civic Platform (SCP) was initiated. More than 150 organizations and over 80 local leaders collaborate to integrate the voices of diverse Syrian civilians on the ground into the negotiating process and link them with high level decision makers. SCP focuses on the role of civil society organizations in the political transition through their various roles.
We are fully aware that we are still in the early phase of the work even though we have achieved a great deal. We also realize that we need to continue our efforts and we need many years and dozens of organizations to reach a tolerant and democratic society where people have an active role in decisions-making to determine their respective future.
CCSD(USA) was registered in 2015. A DC office was opened in 2019 which oversees our US operations and grant management.