Syrian Local Councils
Establishment of Local Councils:
The Local Councils in Syria represent an alternative to the absent civilian government in areas under regime control or recently freed since the councils are run by the people living of the area.
When the revolution began in Syria, there was a humanitarian crisis due to the regime’s suppression. This led to negative impacts on large numbers of people in almost all cities and villages. The people started to help one another and offer necessary services to those in need of them; however the level of need climbed too high for any individual or small organization to offer without working and coordinating with others.
The Local Councils offered many services, some examples of those are:
- Humanitarian aid in the form of food and shelter
- Medical aid and services
- Media services
- Municipal services such as managing sewage, garbage disposal, education, securing water and diesel fuel, policing and other responsibilities
Leadership was for those individuals and groups who tried to provide their services to the largest number of people in need, in a better and more consistent way. Most of the financial and in kind support came from individuals inside and outside of Syria until the level of need was too high. Fundraising campaigns then began outside Syria aimed at individuals and organizations in nations near and far. Those who secured the support decided upon how the resources were distributed. The Local Councils are completely connected with the opposition groups whether revolutionary or military. They play an important role through providing civil services to these groups, which give it a reason to continue its work. Most of the time city councils are formed from the revolutionary councils and in some cases formed from the military councils.
Goals of the Local Councils:
The Local Councils aim to fill the gap that an absent government has left behind by providing services to structure future municipalities and to liaise with the transitional government for future elections.
We can define some of our goals more specifically as:
- Administering all aspects of civil live, for the Local Councils to represent all individuals who are working in providing civilian services to all governorates, in order to follow up and monitor efforts to guarantee quality and improve efforts.
- Distributing all aid that reaches governorates whether from individuals, groups, or nations through specialized networks in all aspects of the Local Councils’ fields of work, with the standards of justice and transparency.
- Offering services including relief services, medical services, media services, civilian police force, legal services, rebuilding services, development of administrative and skills services and others.
- Creating the nucleus of future municipalities, which will be tied to the temporary government, and then the elected government.
- To build and strengthen national support in society through civilian work far from any ideology, party, or political desires.
Challenges facing the Local Councils:
There are many challenges faced by the Local Council, here are some of them:
- Weakness in ability to execute, despite the fact that the Local Councils, as we stated before, most of the time came from revolutionary councils whose members were the bravest and most were willing to provide services by threat of guns and shelling. Their selection was not based on available expertise or requested qualifications and so their ability to administer municipal services was weak in most cases.
- A lack of required expertise in administering municipal services since the Local Councils were formed during a developing crisis and most of the people involved in the council had never been involved in such work previously.
- Lack of clear organized structure regarding responsibilities and permissions.
- Lack of clear inability to create good decisions, since there is no decision making mechanism that follows specific guidelines, and instead left to the individuals responsible to decide for whom to provide aid and services.
- Lack of specific details that are depended upon in order to present the needs and draw a clear plan of action. Lack of information is one of the main challenges facing the Local Council. It is not possible in such critical and risky conditions to confirm the accuracy of information provided. There is an increasing demand for aid and services, which increases on a daily basis, and there is not a lot of room to verify information, and it became clear in many cases that information provided could not be depended upon.
Bylaws of the Local Councils in Syrian governorates
Composed of eight sections:
- Section 1: Definitions and generalities
- Section 2: Goals, objectives, and components of the local councils.
- Section 3: Membership
- Section 4: Functions of local councils in the governorates
- Section 5: Local councils of cities, towns, and municipalities
- Section 6: The executive boards of cities, towns, and municipalities.
- Section 7: Financial provisions
- Section 8: General transitional provisions.