Syria’s Local Coordination Committees: the Dynamo of a Hijacked Revolution

May 21, 2014

First publication of the Syrian Perspectives Project

Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, there have been abundant articles and studies on Syrian political factions and figures, but to date there has been no systematic study and critical appraisal of the engine of the revolution ? the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs).

For this reason, Hivos, in collaboration with Syrian stakeholders and regional knowledge initiatives such as Maalouma, has initiated the Syrian Perspectives Project, which aims to dissect the complexity of the conflict in Syria from the viewpoint of Syrian researchers living and working inside Syria despite deteriorating security and social conditions.

This study is the first publication of the the Syrian Perspectives Project and has two distinctive added values. First, it critically appraises the LCCs by looking back at their emergence, evolution, achievements and the challenges they face; second, it offers an insider perspective, as it is conducted by a young Syrian researcher who resided in Syria while writing this paper. Over the course of 2013, Amr Abu Hamed conducted empirical research in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances and observed the activities of LCCs and interviewed activists (names withheld).

The LCCs are an outstanding grassroots, trans-sectarian umbrella youth network that was established across Syria in an extremely difficult and dangerous context. They managed to organise peaceful demonstrations, inform the outside world about the regime’s atrocities, document human rights violations, provide humanitarian assistance, convince and commit local armed groups to sign up to an ethical code of conduct for observing human rights. They also issued statements and a ‘political vision paper’ about the future Syrian state.

Yet, despite being the dynamo of the revolution, the LCCs have  faced – and still face- daunting challenges which will be brought into even sharper focus once the conflict ends. At the time of writing, the LCCs had been considerably weakened by repression from both the regime and jihadi groups. This being said, they will be crucial to the rebuilding of post-conflict Syria. The future challenges confronting the LCCs include remaining independent and developing a detailed and serious political vision and a new political discourse for future (and current) Syria; a vision and discourse that tackles not only regime atrocities, but also ? or perhaps, more importantly ? increasing sectarianism, militarism, the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and how to deal with Islamists.

Download the paper from the Documents box to the right.