Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

UN and Syria envoy discuss constitutional committee

Progress has been made on the committee since July, Geir Pedersen said

UN special envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen speaking to reporters upon arrival in Damascus, Syria. EPA
UN special envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen speaking to reporters upon arrival in Damascus, Syria. EPA

The Syrian government and the United Nations special envoy to the country met on Monday to discuss the formation of a constitutional committee.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Geir Pedersen “is doing the final work” on the details of the committee, and hopes it "will be very soon concluded”.

Mr Pedersen met Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Al Muallem to discuss the committee's development, which has so far had limited progress because of disagreements with President Bashar Al Assad’s government over the composition of the body.

The UN envoy last visited Syria in July.

The committee is expected to have 150 members, one third of which will be chosen by the regime, another by the opposition and the remaining third by the UN.

Last week, Mr Guterres said that a deal had been reached on the composition of a committee to draft a new constitution for Syria. The UN believes the move will eventually end the eight-year war.

“Geir Pedersen is doing the final work with the parties in relation to the terms of reference, and we hope that this will be very soon concluded,” Mr Guterres said during a news conference.

The UN top official said the “formation of a constitutional committee will be a very important step in creating the conditions for a political solution for this tragic conflict”.

The mechanisms that will govern the committee's work are yet to be resolved, and that has triggered fears among diplomats that concrete progress is still months away.

Previous rounds of UN-led peace talks have failed to establish measures between the opposition and the government.

The civil war has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more.

An agreement on a blueprint for peace in Syria was approved in Geneva on June 30, 2012, by the UN, Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five members of the Security Council that remains the basis for ending the conflict. It calls for a Syrian-led political process starting with the establishment of a transitional governing body, moving to the drafting of a new constitution and ending with national elections.

The Security Council unanimously backed the agreement in a resolution in December 2015 that set a timetable for talks and a ceasefire that was never met.

Updated: September 23, 2019 04:23 PM

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