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« Société civile » et évolution de l’autoritarisme en Syrie

Claudie Fioroni

Annexe 1 : Discours de Mme al-Assad à la conférence du STD, 23 janvier 2010, Damas

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1Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

2It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today. My patronage of this conference is not borne out of the formalities usually associated with events of this kind, but rather from my conviction and belief in the role that civil society and non-governmental organisations can and must play in building Syria’s future.

3Today marks an important milestone for this sector. It is an opportunity to reflect on the journey travelled thus far, to assess our achievements and to determine how best to continue in order to help Syria realise the future that it deserves.

4The theme of this conference has a special significance and resonance for our country. Our society has strong social foundations, rooted deeply in the culture and instinct of people from all walks of life who come together in response to human need and in pursuit of a common purpose. With the passing of time, and the ongoing and new challenges we face, this intrinsic instinct remains just as strong today.

5This indicates the resilience of our culture and its ability to absorb, adapt and cope with abrupt and difficult circumstances and to transform them into positive and energetic capabilities. Over time, this quality has become increasingly organised, and today it is embodied by the emergence of civil society organisations and NGOs in Syria - the context in which we are gathering.

6Ladies and Gentlemen,

7Civil society is playing an increasingly important role in the development process around the world. During the past 5 years, Syria has witnessed an increase of 300% in the number of registered civil society organisations and NGOs. The significance of this leap is reflected in diversification that these organisations represent. Today they are working in areas that had previously been the sole preserve of government, such as education, professional development, health, environment, micro-finance and many others.

8This expansion and diversification is not a coincidence. It reflects the firm political will in Syria to put NGOs at the forefront of the national development process, and the government’s appreciation of the particular contribution that NGOs are best placed to make. This has become even more evident in the partnerships created between government and civil society in a number of high-level national projects. These include the National Plan for Disability, the National Plan for Child Protection, and the passing to NGOs of responsibilities that would previously have been the business of national or local government. The opportunity that this policy represents must be seized by our civil society organisations. Failure to do so, risks them being sidelined in this important process, in which case our society would lose one of the most valuable means of achieving major positive change in all aspects of our lives.

9Our experience in bringing forward non-government partners is like that of any other country – it has had both successes and failures.

10While it is natural to want only to succeed, we must not be afraid to fail, because if we do, our resolve to tackle the challenge of change will wither. We need to transform past mistakes into lessons to be learned by all and a base for further bold endeavours. One of the key factors required to ensure the success of this sector is the right legal and regulatory framework. In line with this requirement, the government has been working closely with representatives of civil society on new legislation, and this is now in its final stages. The new law will represent a fundamental change in the way the sector is regulated and as such pave the way for a new and more enabling environment for these organisations. More significantly, it will be complemented by guidelines to ensure that its implementation is in line with the enabling spirit to help the sector achieve its objectives.

11Distinguished Guests,

12We are on the threshold of a new era for this sector in Syria. This is reflected on the one hand by the vision and commitment of government to support this sector and on the other by international consensus that nowhere can a government meet the challenges of sustainable human development on its own. Recent crises have vividly shown how deeply governments depend on the contribution of all sectors in society to play their part in national development.

13This new era presents the sector in Syria with both an opportunity and a challenge. To grasp the opportunity requires that we rise to the challenge. For civil society organisations and NGOs, this must be reflected in their willingness to develop their capabilities. This must include setting well defined, ambitious but achievable goals, a thorough commitment to developing human resources and capacity building, and putting in place systematic and professional work practices and guidelines.

14In all cases, there must be greater transparency – of both purpose and process, both inside and outside organisations. Innovation in search of greater impact and efficient use of resources must be coupled with the establishment of clear indicators to measure outcomes and results of projects and programmes in this process. We must also look towards modern technology as an essential tool to engage directly with beneficiaries and involve them as active participants in shaping the process of development.

15I wish to stress here the importance of collaborative partnerships and the need for them. The government’s adoption of this philosophy does not mean that NGOs should only look to government institutions as potential partners; the role of the private sector in development is enormously important, whether through financial support or by providing the access to the expertise they have. Undoubtedly, the most fruitful partnerships are three-party, those that bring together public, private and civil society, combining the particular strengths and resources of each.

16However, our ambitions to expand this sector and provide the necessary support can only be achieved with a framework that holds civil society organisations to certain standards of performance and accountability, in terms of both their impact and their operations. The introduction of a system of accreditation and governance in this sector will provide an objective guide to any organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency. This will enable potential partners, donors and supporters to seek out organisations, which demonstrably meet clear standards of performance. In turn this will also encourage organisations towards greater transparency and better results.

17Creating the mechanisms of civil society cannot and should not undermine the essential humanity and social values, which must remain the foundation for everything that we achieve in this sector in the future. Many pioneers in this field, men and women alike, have exemplified these values and done great work, often in hard conditions, which has paved the way for us all. We honour them best, not only by recognising their achievement but also by building on it.

18Ladies and Gentlemen,

19The past and the future of development of any country are fundamentally linked to the challenges that each country faces. Since independence, Syria has faced a significant challenge - Israel. For our citizens and the government, this has meant that our stability and national security have always had to be our priority.

20However stability and development are complimentary factors. As such we need to focus on our development much more than other countries blessed with safe borders and a stable region. Development is the best means to achieve our national objectives of a better quality of life for our citizens and the return of our rights as a nation.

21As you all know, successful sustainable development in any society is based on strong and broad participation at a national level coupled with exposure to the necessary international experience that can broaden our understanding and enrich our development approach. Conferences like this one today provide an ideal opportunity for us all to engage, and to exchange knowledge and experiences. With an open attitude and a willingness to learn and benefit from others, regardless of our cultural differences and perspectives, we will be able to continue to work towards a common goal - to develop societies that are just, true and prosperous.

22Guests of Syria and Fellow Citizens,

23This conference is your platform, to contribute in determining how Society Organisations and NGO’s can best support our national development. People and human dimensions are simultaneously the goal of development and the means to achieve it. The success of this conference ultimately lies in the forward-looking approach you adopt, and the transparency of your debates. I welcome you all and wish you a successful conference.


Source : The Syria Report, 25 janvier 2010. (consulté le 26 janvier 2010).


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