DISCUSSION GROUPS AND INTERVIEWS WITH PEACE RESOURCES UNDER THE PROJECT:
“THE EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN THE PEACE PROCESS IN SYRIA”
The “Effective Community Participation in the Peace Process” is considered a large project that is implemented in several stages, and requires a lot of effort and time. This emerges from the need for sustainable and deep peace in Syria, and to put an end to the escalating violence in Syrian society due to the crisis that exploded three years ago.
The project was established by the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS) in collaboration with Peaceful Change Initiative (PCI), a British organization that has been operating in several conflict areas around the world. The intention of such a project was to create a base for sustainable peace in Syria.
After completing the first and second stages, which required networking with peace-building organizations and then training CCSDS staff on how to communicate with peace resources, the third stage has begun with the process of identifying those peace resources inside Syria and the neighboring countries that include Syrian communities.
The third stage started when interviews were conducted and focus group discussions were held for a month and a half between 12 December 2013 and 27 January 2014. During these sessions, 55 figures who are considered ”peace resources” were interviewed. Those individuals work to develop solutions to manage current conflicts in their communities such as by: a) negotiating for prisoner or body exchanges and delivering local humanitarian aid or encouraging ceasefires, b) mediating to prevent the escalation of conflict. These 55 interviews were in addition to 26 focus dicussion groups in nine Syrian provinces, namely Damascus, Damascus Supburbs, Lattakia, Hama, Hasaka, Aleppo, Deir Azzour, Daraa, and Idleb. Raqqa should have been included in this project; however, the dominace of ISIS inhibited the ability of the focus group leaders to reach the area. Some interviews and discussion groups were also held in Turkey,Lebanon and Jordan.
The fourth stage included the issuance of an inclusive report, which summarizes the content of both the interviews and dicussions with the peace resources about the situation in Syria and how solutions might be attained and the continuation of fighting might be avoided. At the same time, 2500 copies of a booklet about negotiations have been published under the title, ”Negotiations in Brief” in both colloqual Arabic and standard English. It was distributed electronically and in paper copies as well.
The project includes further stages that will be completed in the future, during the timeline defined by CCSDS for the project.