In the summer of 2012, over a year after peaceful demonstrations demanding freedom and democracy first began in Syria, the Syrian Revolution had reached a turning point. The government of Bashar al-Assad, through a systematic campaign of violent repression, had shifted the focus of the uprising into an armed struggle and begun brutally bombarding the cities of Syria with artillery and aircraft. With no substantial commitment on the part of the international community to hold regime human rights violators and committers of crimes against humanity accountable, it was apparent that the future of the Revolution was to be left solely in the hands of those Syrians willing to sacrifice everything for the creation of a free and democratic state.
It was also clear, however, that there was a need for creating an inclusive unified opposition vision of the post-Assad Syria. Certainly a number of international and domestic actors had their own ideas and initiatives. But these plans for the new Syrian government could not be accepted as representative of the beliefs and aspirations of the Syrian people. There would have to be a process – perhaps a lengthy one – by which the Syrian people, without prejudice to tribal, confessional, sectarian, or political affiliation, could be consulted to the greatest extent possible in the creation of a vision of Free Syria.
Thus the Syrian Expert House was born.
The Syrian Expert House is a combined group of approximately 300 human rights activists, academics, judges, lawyers, doctors, opposition politicians, defected government officials, defected military officers, members of local revolutionary councils, and commanders of the armed opposition all committed to holding periodic meetings to build a final vision of the transitional period and produce considered, deliberate recommendations for Syria’s political future.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, the Syrian Expert House gathered multiple times to discuss: Constitutional Reform and Rule of Law, Political and Administrative Reform, Electoral Reform and Political Parties Law, Security Sector Reform, Economic Reform, and Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation. These meetings resulted in the publishing of Syria Transition Roadmap, an exhaustively researched document detailing the Syrian Expert House’s final vision of the post-Assad Syrian transition.