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  • Posted April 11th, 2016

    A small key can open a large door: why we should all know what’s happening in Rojava

    A small key can open a large door: why we should all know what’s happening in Rojava

    I don’t believe that any ethnic group anywhere in the world can truthfully claim that they have never carried out atrocities against another group. Every nation has been victim and perpetrator at some time. To claim that this is not the case, and to claim that one group is perpetually blameless whilst another is perpetually guilty is Manichean in the extreme. Nothing is that clear cut.

    This is true of the Kurds as it is of any other group. However, what’s happening in three largely Kurdish enclaves in the north of Syria is so unusual as to deserve much wider coverage in Western media. What they are attempting in Rojava, if successful, could set an example to other groups elsewhere, and could show how areas could organise without hierarchy – either corporate or state.

    The thing that is most well-known about the Rojava revolution is its female militias – who have been sensationalised in glossy magazines as ‘sexy Amazons’ or ‘real girl power’, when in fact they are making a very strong, very serious feminist statement in a part of the world (including Kurdistan) where women have been undervalued forever. They are fighting Islamic State, whose fighters they know for sure will rape them and then kill them if captured. Very brave women indeed. Feminism is one of the three main principles of the revolution, the other two being ecology and grassroots democracy.


    History (necessarily brief)

    Skipping over the horrific colonial history of the region, it’s difficult to know whether, in recent times, the Kurds have received worse treatment from the Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi or Iranian governments, although Saddam’s killing of over 100,000 Kurds in the 1980s, including with chemical weapons, will take some beating. The Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was formed in 1978, led by Abdullah Ocalan, and its bombing and assassinations in Turkey soon gained it the terrorist label.

    Ocalan was imprisoned by the Turks in 1999. In prison he read about the Zapatistas in Mexico and their rejection of hierarchy and the state. The Zapatista leadership had been Marxist guerillas for years before switching to a more anarchic (and much more successful), non-hierarchical, non-party approach. Ocalan was impressed, and began to read anarchist authors, including Murray Bookchin, especially the Ecology of Freedom, which became his bible.

    2006: PKK congress vows to implement Bookchin’s anarchist ideas at the earliest opportunity, and in 2011, the Syrian civil war gave them their chance. In 2012, Assad was in trouble, and withdrew troops from Rojava. A coalition called the Democratic Society Movement filled the vacuum, and invited non-Kurdish groups into the coalition. They implemented a democratic confederation of networked committees, but without a state.


    The backbone of the system is the regular face-to-face meeting of neighbours, from which representatives are sent to district meetings, up to committees at the level of each of the 3 enclaves (Kobani, Jazira and Afrin – English spellings). Representatives on the committees rotate frequently, and there is an independent judiciary. Citizens’ security groups are elected by neighbourhood groups, who decide whether they are allowed to carry weapons in their neighbourhoods. There is a free market, with worker-owned businesses, self-employment and the ‘commons’. Private property is allowed as long as it is used by the owner. So you can own your own home, but not someone else’s. This sounds very much like a mutualist anarchist approach to me. There’s much more to say of course, about how the stateless enclaves are run, but you can keep up to speed using the links below.

    A lot of commentators are saying that the left should support the Rojavans more (anarchists have been betrayed by the left before – notably in the Spanish Civil War, but also in Ukraine after the First World War and in the Ruvuma district of Tanzania in the late 1960s). Yes, I think they should, but so should the right, surely? There’s no state – the libertarian right should be over the moon. And no taxes – at all! The right should be moving there in droves. There’s nothing that I know of in the philosophy of the right that claims that women and men should not be equal, and there are plenty of conservative feminists. And ecology – there are also plenty of right-wing nature lovers, and again, there is nothing in the philosophy of the right that celebrates our damaging nature. And they’re fighting ISIS – the bogeyman of middle America. No, it’s not just the left who should be supporting what’s happening in Rojava – they deserve the support of the entire world.

    Get the book A Small Key Can Open a Large Door.

    Here’s a reading guide from various political perspectives.

    Here’s a good summary on Wikipedia.

    And here’s a blog to be kept up to date with developments in Rojava.

    The book mentioned above contains a constitution for self-rule in Rojava. I’ve reproduced it here in full. Regardless of what happens on the ground, for a document like this to exist, covering a land area containing 2.5 million people, is incredible.

    The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons

    The Social Contract of Rojava Cantons in Syria

    Download a PDF version here.


    We, the people of the Democratic Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Jazira and Kobane, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens, freely and solemnly declare and establish this Charter, which has been drafted according to the principles of Democratic Autonomy.

    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.

    I General principles

    Article 1

    The Charter of the Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Jazira, and Kobane, [hereinafter “the Charter”], is a renewed social contract between the peoples of the Autonomous Regions. The Preamble is an integral part of the Charter.

    Article 2

    a- Authority resides with and emanates from the people of the Autonomous Regions. It is exercised by governing councils and public institutions elected by popular vote.

    b- The people constitute the sole source of legitimacy all governing councils and public institutions, which are founded on democratic principles essential to a free society.

    Article 3

    a – Syria is a free, sovereign and democratic state, governed by a parliamentary system based on principles of decentralization and pluralism.

    b – The Autonomous Regions is composed of the three cantons of Afrin, Jazirah and Kobane,  forming an integral part of the Syrian territory. The administrative centres of each Canton are:

    Afrin city, Canton of Afrin;

    Qamishli city, Canton of Jazira;

    Kobane city, Canton of Kobane.

    c – The Canton of Jazirah is ethnically and religiously diverse, with Kurdish, Arab, Syriac, Chechen, Armenian, Muslim, Christian and Yazidi communities peacefully co-existing in brotherhood. The elected Legislative Assembly represents all three Cantons of the Autonomous Regions.

    The Structure of governance in the Autonomous Regions

    Article 4

    1- Legislative Assembly

    2 – Executive Councils

    3 – High Commission of Elections

    4 – Supreme Constitutional Courts

    5 – Municipal/Provincial Councils

    Article 5

    The administrative centres of each Canton are:

    Qamishli city, Canton of Jazira;

    Afrin city, Canton of Afrin;

    Kobane city, Canton of Kobane.

    Article 6

    All persons and communities are equal in the eyes of the law and in rights and responsibilities.

    Article 7

    All cities, towns and villages in Syria which accede to this Charter may form Cantons falling within Autonomous Regions.

    Article 8

    All Cantons in the Autonomous Regions are founded upon the principle of local self-government.  Cantons may freely elect their representatives and representative bodies, and may pursue their  rights insofar as it does not contravene the articles of the Charter.

    Article 9

    The official languages of the Canton of Jazirah are Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac. All communities have the right to teach and be taught in their native language.

    Article 10

    The Autonomous Regions shall not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries, and it shall safeguard its relations with neighboring states, resolving any conflicts peacefully.

    Article 11

    The Autonomous Regions have the right to be represented by their own flag, emblems and anthem. Such symbols shall be defined in a law.

    Article 12

    The Autonomous Regions form an integral part of Syria. It is a model for a future decentralized system of federal governance in Syria.

    II Basic Principles

    Article 13

    There shall be a separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary.

    Article 14

    The Autonomous Regions shall seek to implement a framework of transitional justice measures. It shall take steps to redress the legacy of chauvinistic and discriminatory State policies, including the payment of reparations to victims, both individuals and communities, in the Autonomous Regions.

    Article 15

    The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the sole military force of the three Cantons, with the mandate to protect and defend the security of the Autonomous Regions and its peoples, against both internal and external threats. The People’s Protection Units act in accordance with the recognized inherent right to self-defense. Power of command in respect of the People’s Protection Units is vested in the Body of Defense through its Central Command. Its relation to the armed forces of the central Government shall be defined by the Legislative Assembly in a special law.

    The Asayish forces are charged with civil policing functions in the Autonomous Regions.

    Article 16

    If a court or any other public body considers that a provision conflicts with a provision of a fundamental law or with a provision of any other superior statute, or that the procedure prescribed was set aside in any important respect when the provision was introduced, the provision shall be nullified.

    Article 17

    The Charter guarantees the rights of the youth to participate actively in public and political life.

    Article 18

    Unlawful acts and omissions and the appropriate penalties are defined by criminal and civil law.

    Article 19

    The system of taxation and other fiscal regulations are defined by law.

    Article 20

    The Charter holds as inviolable the fundamental rights and freedoms set out in international human rights treaties, conventions and declarations.

    III Rights and Liberties

    Article 21

    The Charter incorporates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as other internationally recognized human rights conventions.

    Article 22

    All international rights and responsibilities pertaining civil, political, cultural, social and economical rights are guaranteed.

    Article 23

    a – Everyone has the right to express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and gender rights

    b – Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment, based on ecological balance.

    Article 24

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Freedom of expression and freedom of information may be restricted having regard to the security of the Autonomous Regions, public safety and order, the integrity of the individual, the sanctity of private life, or the prevention and prosecution of crime.

    Article 25

    a- Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.

    b- All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    c- Prisoners have the right to humane conditions of detention, which protect their inherent dignity. Prisons shall serve the underlying objective of the reformation, education and social rehabilitation of prisoners.

    Article 26

    Every human being has the inherent right to life. No one within the jurisdiction of the Autonomous Regions shall be executed.

    Article 27

    Women have the inviolable right to participate in political, social, economic and cultural life.

    Article 28

    Men and women are equal in the eyes of the law. The Charter guarantees the effective realization of equality of women and mandates public institutions to work towards the elimination of gender discrimination.

    Article 29

    The Charter guarantees the rights of the child. In particular children shall not suffer economic exploitation, child labour, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and shall not be married before attaining the age of majority.

    Article 30

    All persons have the right

    1. to personal security in a peaceful and stable society.

    2. to free and compulsory primary and secondary education.

    3. to work, social security, health, adequate housing.

    4. to protect the motherhood and maternal and pediatric care.

    5. to adequate health and social care for the disabled, the elderly and those with special needs.

    Article 31

    Everyone has the right to freedom of worship, to practice one’s own religion either individually or in association with others. No one shall be subjected to persecution on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

    Article 32

    a)- Everyone has the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to establish and freely join any political party, association, trade union and/or civil assembly.

    b)- In exercising the right to freedom of association, political, economic and cultural expression of all communities is protected. This serves to protect the rich and diverse heritage of the peoples of the Autonomous Regions.

    c)- The Yezidi religion is a recognized religion and its adherents’ rights to freedom of association and expression is explicitly protected. The protection of Yezidi religious, social and cultural life may be guaranteed through the passage of laws by the Legislative Assembly.

    Article 33

    Everyone has the freedom to obtain, receive and circulate information and to communicate ideas, opinions and emotions, whether orally, in writing, in pictorial representations, or in any other way.

    Article 34

    Everyone has the right of peaceful assembly, including the right to peaceful protest, demonstration and strike.

    Article 35

    Everyone has the right to freely experience and contribute to academic, scientific, artistic and cultural expressions and creations, through individual or joint practice, to have access to and enjoy, and to disseminate their expressions and creations.

    Article 36

    Everyone has the right to vote and to run for public office, as circumscribed by law.

    Article 37

    Everyone has the right to seek political asylum. Persons may only be deported following a decision of a competent, impartial and properly constituted judicial body, where all due process rights have been afforded.

    Article 38

    All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal opportunities in public and professional life.

    Article 39

    Natural resources, located both above and below ground, are the public wealth of society. Extractive processes, management, licensing and other contractual agreements related to such resources shall be regulated by law.

    Article 40

    All buildings and land in the Autonomous Regions are owned by the Transitional Administration are public property. The use and distribution shall be determined by law.

    Article 41

    Everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of his private property. No one shall be deprived of his property except upon payment of just compensation, for reasons of public utility or social interest, and in the cases and according to the forms established by law.

    Article 42

    The economical system in the provinces shall be directed at providing general welfare and in particular granting funding to science and technology. It shall be aimed at guaranteeing the daily needs of people and to ensure a dignified life. Monopoly is prohibited by law. Labor rights and sustainable development are guaranteed.

    Article 43

    Everyone has the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence within the Autonomous Regions.

    Article 44

    The enumeration of the rights and freedoms set forth in Section III is non-exhaustive.

    The Democratic Self-rule Administration Project

    IV Legislative Assembly


    Article 45

    The Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region, is elected by the people by direct, secret ballot, and the duration of the course is four (4) years.

    Article 46

    The first meeting of the Legislative Assembly shall be held no later than the 16th day following the announcement of the final results of elections in all Autonomous Regions. Such results will be certified and announced by the Higher Commission of Elections.

    The President of the Transitional Executive Council will convene the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly. If compelling reasons dictate that its first meeting cannot be so held, the President of the Transitional Executive Council will determine another date to be held within fifteen days.

    Quorum is met by fifty + one (50+1%) percent attendants of the total. The oldest member of the Legislative Assembly will chair its first meeting at which the Co-Presidents and Executive Council will be elected.

    The sessions of the Legislative Assembly are public unless necessity demands otherwise. The movement of the Legislative Assembly into closed session is governed by its rules of procedure.

    Article 47

    There shall be one member of the Supreme Legislature Council per fifteen thousand (15,000) registered voters residing within the Autonomous Region. The Legislative Assembly must be composed of at least forty per cent (40%) of either sex according to the electoral laws. The representation of the Syriac community, as well as youth representation in the election lists, is governed by electoral laws.

    Article 48

    1- No member of the Legislative Assembly may run for more than two consecutive terms.

    2 – The term of the Legislative Assembly may be extended in exceptional cases at the request of one quarter (1/4) of its members or at the request of the Office of the President of the Council, with the consent of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the Council. Such extension shall be for no longer than six (6) months.

    Article 49

    Every person who has reached the age of eighteen (18) years is eligible to vote. Candidates for the Legislative Assembly must have attained the age of twenty-two (22) years. Conditions for candidacy and election are stipulated by electoral law.

    Article 50

    Members of the Legislative Assembly enjoy immunity in respect of acts and omissions carried out in the function of official duties. Any prosecutions require the authorization of the Legislative Assembly, with the exception of flagrante crime. At the earliest opportunity, the Office of the President of the Council shall be informed of all pending prosecutions.

    Article 51

    No member, during his term of office, is permitted any public, private, or other profession. Such employment is suspended once he makes the constitutional oath. He has the right to return to his job, with all its rights and benefits, once his membership ends.

    Article 52

    Local Councils in each province of the Autonomous Regional shall be formed through direct elections.

    Article 53

    The functions of the Legislative Assembly are to:

    Establish rules and procedures governing the work of the Legislative Assembly.

    Enact legislation and proposed regulations for the Local Councils and other institutions, including permanent and ad hoc committees, under its purview.

    Exercise control over administrative and executive bodies, including use of powers of review.

    Ratification of international treaties and agreements.

    Delegate its powers to the Executive Council or to one of its members and thereafter to withdraw such powers.

    Declare a State of war and peace.

    Ratify the appointment of members of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

    Adopt the general budget.

    Establish general policy and development plans.

    Approve and grant amnesty.

    Adopt decrees promulgated by the Executive Council; and

    Adopt laws for the common governance of the Provincial Councils of the Autonomous Regions.

    Part V Executive Council

    Article 54

    Canton Governor

    A- The Canton Governor, together with the Executive Council of the Autonomous Regions, hold executive authority as set forth in this Charter.

    B- The candidate to the post of Canton Governor must.


    1- Be over thirty-five years of age;

    2- Be a Syrian citizen and a resident of the canton; and

    3- Have no convictions or cautions.

    C- The procedure governing the candidacy and election of Canton Governor:


    1- Within 30 days of the first session of the Legislative Assembly, its President must call for the election of the Canton Governors.

    2- Requests to nominate candidates for the position of Canton Governor must be made, in writing, to the Supreme Court which shall examine and accept or reject not later than ten (10) days after the close of nominations.

    3- The Legislative Assembly shall elect the Canton Governor by a simple majority.

    4- If no candidate receives the required simple majority, a second electoral round is initiated, with the candidate receiving the highest number of votes, being elected.

    5- The term of Canton Governor is four (4) years from the date of the taking of the Oath of Office;

    6- The Canton Governor makes the Oath of Office before the Legislative Assembly before commencing official duties.

    7- The Canton Governor appointed one or more Deputies, approved by the Legislative Assembly.

    The Deputies take an Oath of Office before the Canton Governor, after which specified functions may be delegated to them.

    8- Should the Canton Governor be unable to fulfill his official functions, one of his Deputies shall replace him.

    Where the Canton Governor and the Deputies are unable to fulfill their duties for any reason, the tasks of the Canton Governor will be carried out by the President of the Legislative Assembly; and

    9- The Governor must address any letter of resignation to the Legislative Assembly.

    D- The powers and functions of the Canton Governor:


    1- The Canton Governor shall ensure respect for the Charter and the protection of the national unity and sovereignty, and at all times performing his functions to the best of ability and conscience.

    2- The Canton Governor shall appoint the President of the Executive Council.

    3- The Canton Governor shall implement laws passed by the Legislative Assembly, and issue decisions, orders and decrees in accordance with those laws.

    4- The Canton Governor must invite the newly elected Legislative Assembly to convene within fifteen (15) days from the announcement of the election results;

    5- The Canton Governor may grant medals.

    6- The Canton Governor may issue amnesties as recommended by the President of the Executive


    E- The Canton Governor is responsible to the people through his representatives in the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly has the right to bring him before the Supreme Constitutional Court for charges of treason and other forms of sedition.

    The Executive Council:

    The Executive Council is the highest executive and administrative body in the Autonomous Regions. It is responsible for the implementation of laws, resolutions and decrees as issued by the Legislative Assembly and judicial institutions. It shall coordinate the institutions of the Autonomous Regions.

    Article 55

    The Executive Council is composed of a Chairman, representatives and committees.

    Article 56

    The party or bloc winning a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly shall form the Executive Council within one month from the date of assignment, with the approval of the simple majority (51%) of the members of the Legislative Assembly.

    Article 57

    The Head of the Executive Council shall not serve more than two consecutive terms, each term being four (4) years in length.

    Article 58

    The Head of the Executive Council may choose advisers amongst the newly elected members of the Legislative Council.

    Article 59

    Each adviser shall be responsible for one of the bodies within the Executive Council.

    Article 60

    The work of the Executive Council, including the Departments, and their relation to other institutions/committees is regulated by law.

    Article 61

    After the formation and approval of the Executive Council, it shall issue its prospective Programme for Government. Following its passage through the Legislative Assembly, the Executive Council is obliged to implement the Programme of Government during that legislative term.

    Article 62

    Senior civil servants and Department representatives shall be nominated by the Executive Council and approved by the Legislative Council.

    Provincial Administrative Councils [Municipal Councils]:

    1- The Cantons of the Autonomous Regions are composed of Provincial Administrative Councils [Municipal Councils] and are managed by the relevant Executive Council which retains the power to amend its functions and regulations;

    2- The powers and duties of the Provincial Administrative Councils [Municipal Councils] are founded upon an adherence to a policy of decentralization. The Canton’s supervision of the Provincial Administrative Councils’ [Municipal Councils’] authority, including its budget and finance, public services and mayoral elections are regulated by law.

    3- Provincial Administrative Councils [Municipal Councils] are directly elected by the public, using secret ballot.

    Part VI The Judicial Council:

    Article 63

    The independence of the Judiciary is founding principle of the rule of law, which ensures a just and effective disposition of cases by the competent and impartial courts.

    Article 64

    Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until and unless proved guilty by a competent and impartial court.

    Article 65

    All institutions of the Judicial Council must be composed of at least forty per cent (40%) of either sex.

    Article 66

    The right to defense is sacred and inviolable at all stages of an investigation and trial.

    Article 67

    The removal of a Judge from office requires a decision from the Judicial Council.

    Article 68

    Judgments and judicial decisions are issued on behalf of the people.

    Article 69

    Failure to implement judicial decisions and orders is a violation of law.

    Article 70

    No civilian shall stand trial before any military court or special or ad hoc tribunals.

    Article 71

    Searches of houses and other private property must be done in accordance with a properly executed warrant, issued by a judicial authority.

    Article 72

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

    Article 73

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.

    Article 74

    Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention or otherwise suffered damage or harm as a result of the acts and omissions of public authorities has an enforceable right to compensation.

    Article 75

    The Judicial Council is established by law.

    VII The Higher Commission of Elections

    Article 76

    The Higher Commission of Elections is an independent body competent to oversee and run the electoral process. It is composed of 18 members, representing all cantons, who are appointed by the Legislative Assembly.

    1. Decisions in the Commission require a qualified majority of eleven (11) votes.

    2. Member of the Higher Commission of Elections may not stand for office in the Legislative


    3. The Higher Commission of Elections determine the date on which elections are held, the announcement of the results, and receive the nominations of eligible candidates for the Legislative Assembly.

    4. As stated in paragraph 51, the Higher Commission of Elections verifies the eligibility of candidates seeking election to the Legislative Assembly. The Higher Commission of Elections is the sole body competent to receive allegations of electoral fraud, voter intimidation or illegal interference with the process of an election.

    5. The Higher Commission of Elections is monitored by the Supreme Court and may be monitored by observers from the United Nations and civil society organizations.

    6. The Higher Commission of Elections, together with the Judicial Council, shall convene a meeting of all candidates seeking election to the Legislative Assembly to announce the names of eligible candidates.

    VIII The Supreme Constitutional Court

    Article 77

    a)- The Supreme Constitutional Court is composed of seven (7) members, all of whom are nominated by the Legislative Assembly. Its members are drawn from Judges, legal experts and lawyers, all of whom must have no less than fifteen (15) years of professional experience.

    b)- No member of the Supreme Constitutional Court shall not be eligible to serve on the Executive Council or in the Legislative Assembly or to hold any other office or position of emolument, as defined by law.

    c)- A member’s term of office runs for four (4) years. No member may serve more than two terms.

    The functions of the Supreme Constitutional Court

    Article 78

    1. To interpret the articles and underlying principles of the Charter.

    2. To determine the constitutionality of laws enacted by the Legislative Assembly and decisions taken by Executive Council.

    3. To judicially review legislative acts and executive decisions, where such acts and decisions may be in the conflict with the letter and spirit of the Charter and the Constitution.

    4. Canton Governors, members of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council may be brought before the Supreme Constitutional Court, when alleged to have acted in breach of the Charter.

    5. Its decisions are reached through simple majority vote.

    Article 79

    A member of the Supreme Constitutional Court shall not be removed from office except for stated misbehavior or incapacity. The provisions and procedures governing the work of the Supreme Constitutional Court shall be set out in a special law.

    Article 80

    Procedure for determination of the constitutionality of laws as follow:

    1- The decision for the non-constitutional of any law will be as follow:

    a)- Where, prior to a law’s enactment, more than twenty per cent (20%) of the Legislative Assembly objects to its constitutionality, the Supreme Constitutional Court is seized of the matter and shall render its decision within fifteen (15) days; if the law is to be urgently enacted, a decision shall be rendered within seven (7) days.

    b)-Where, following the rendering of the Judgment of the Supreme Constitutional Court, more than twenty per cent (20%) of the Legislative Assembly still objects to its constitutionality, an appeal may be lodged.

    c)- If, on appeal, the Supreme Constitutional Court rules the law to be enacted as unconstitutional, the law shall be considered null and void.

    2. If an argument is raised in a court concerning the constitutionality of a law as follow:

    a)- If parties to a case raise a challenge to the constitutionality of a law and the court so holds, the matter is stayed while it is referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court

    b)- The Supreme Constitutional Court must deliver its judgment within thirty (30) days.

    IX General Rules

    Article 81

    The Charter applies within the Autonomous Regions. It may only be amended by a qualified majority of two-thirds (2/3) of the Legislative Assembly.

    Article 82

    The Charter shall be laid before the Transitional Legislative Assembly for review and ratification.

    Article 83

    Syrian citizens holding dual nationality are barred from assuming leading positions in the Office of the Canton Governor, the Provincial Council, and the Supreme Constitutional Court.

    Article 84

    The Charter sets out the legislative framework through which laws, decrees, and states of emergency shall be formally implemented.

    Article 85

    Elections to form the Legislative Assembly shall be held within four (4) months of the ratification of the Charter by the Transitional Legislative Assembly. The Transitional Legislative Assembly retains the right to extend the time period if exceptional circumstances arise.

    Article 86

    The Oath of Office to be taken by members of the Legislative Assembly

    I solemnly swear, in the name of Almighty God, to abide by the Charter and laws of the Autonomous Regions, to defend the liberty and interests of the people, to ensure the security of the Autonomous Regions, to protect the rights of legitimate self-defense and to strive for social justice, in accordance with the principles of democratic rules enshrined herein.”

    Article 87

    All governing bodies, institutions and committees shall be made up of at least forty percent (40%) of either sex.

    Article 88

    Syrian criminal and civil legislation is applicable in the Autonomous Regions except where it contradicts provisions of this Charter.

    Article 89

    In the case of conflict between laws passed by the Legislative Assembly and legislation of the central government, the Supreme Constitutional Court will rule upon the applicable law, based on the best interest of the Autonomous Regions.

    Article 90

    The Charter guarantees the protection of the environment and regards the sustainable development of natural ecosystems as a moral and a sacred national duty.

    Article 91

    The education system of the Autonomous Regions shall be based upon the values of reconciliation, dignity, and pluralism. It is a marked departure from prior education policies founded upon racist and chauvinistic principles.

    Education within the Autonomous Regions rejects prior education policies based on racist and chauvinistic principles. Founded upon the values of reconciliation, dignity, and pluralism,

    a)- The new educational curriculum of the cantons shall recognize the rich history, culture and heritage of the peoples of the Autonomous Regions.

    b)-The education system, public service channels and academic institutions shall promote human rights and democracy.

    Article 92

    a)- The Charter enshrines the principle of separation of religion and State.

    b)- Freedom of religion shall be protected. All religions and faiths in the Autonomous Regions shall be respected. The right to exercise religious beliefs shall be guaranteed, insofar as it does not adversely affect the public good.

    Article 93

    a)- The promotion of cultural, social and economic advancement by administrative institutions ensures enhanced stability and public welfare within the Autonomous Regions.

    b)- There is no legitimacy for authority which contradicts this charter.

    Article 94

    Martial law may be invoked and revoked by a qualified majority of two-thirds (2/3) of the Executive Council, in a special session chaired by the Canton Governor. The decision must then be presented to and unanimously adopted by the Legislative Assembly, with its provisions contained in a special law.

    The Executive Council Bodies

    Article 95

    1. Body of Foreign Relations

    2. Body of Defense

    3. Body of Internal Affairs

    4. Body of Justice

    5. Body of Cantonal and Municipal Councils and affiliated to it Committee of Planning and Census

    6. Body of Finance, and affiliated to it a)-Committee on Banking Regulations. b)-

    Committee of Customs and Excise.

    7. Body of Social Affairs

    8. Body of Education

    9. Body of Agriculture

    10. Body of Energy.

    11. Body of Health

    12. Body of Trade and Economic Cooperation

    13. Body of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs

    14. Body of Culture

    15. Body of Transport

    16. Body of Youth and Sports

    17. Body of Environment, Tourism and Historical Objects

    18. Body of Religious Affairs

    19. Body of Family and Gender Equality

    20. Body of Human Rights.

    21. Body of Communications

    22. Body of Food Security

    Article 96

    The Charter shall be published in the media and press.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Shaun Chamberlin (@DarkOptimism) April 12th, 2016

      Thank you for this piece Dave, and the links.

    • 2Dave Darby April 12th, 2016

      The book contains short essays from people on the ground in Rojava. I can imagine being involved in a social experiment like this, and it’s very exciting. But then I think about being surrounded by four heavily armed, hostile governments with ISIS thrown in right next door for good measure, and it’s terrifying. If I’m honest, I think this experiment is most likely to go the way of the Diggers, Levellers, Paris Commune, Makhno’s enclave in Ukraine or the CNT in the Spanish Civil War. But my god, they’re brave, and none of those other experiments had the internet, so who knows. I’d just like as many people to know what’s happening there as possible.

    • 3John Harrison July 29th, 2017

      What is surprising is that they’re fighting those wars using teams of fighters rather than a formal, top-down structure with defined roles like logistics, infantry, special forces etc. The teams are friends, no officers. They’re there because they want to defend their community and not for pay or fear of being shot for desertion. And they’re winning.

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