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constitutional committee UN envoy shares optimism after initial Syria talks

Constitutional Committee meeting in Geneva

The Syrian Constitutional Committee held two days of talks in Geneva last week to agree on the formation of a 45-member drafting group, an agenda, and a code of conduct for future talks

(Keystone / Martial Trezzini)

Despite “deep differences”, the 150 members of a committee gathered in Geneva to draft a new Syria constitution held “very successful” meetings after the official launch on Wednesday, United Nations Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen told reporters on Friday. 

The Constitutional Committee agreed on Friday to the formation of a 45-member drafting body that will begin work on Monday, which UN officials hope will help map a political way forward for the conflict-ridden country.

Pedersen said he was “very impressed” by the fact that the 150 representatives of the government, the opposition and civil society had agreed for the first time to sit together and talk for two days at the UN headquarters in Geneva. 

“We all know, of course, that after eight and a half years of conflict, there are deep differences, a lot of suspicion, a lack of trust,” said Pedersen.

“But the fact that 150 Syrians have been sitting together, respecting each other, talking to each other, discussing - according to the agenda that we agreed upon - the future of Syria, I think was quite impressive. Not only did we agree on an agenda, we also managed to agree on - via consensus - the Code of Conduct for the deliberations of the meetings, and also for the future.” 

Syrian led and owned process

The UN envoy stressed that this was a Syrian process, “led” and “owned” by Syrians.

The head of the government delegation, Ahmad Kuzbari, said that his government “will welcome with open arms those who have opinions close to our group… but we will not meet those who are too far removed from our national principles.”

The head of the opposition delegation, Hadi Al-Bahra, stressed that “the most important thing to build confidence… is to establish a permanent ceasefire, release detainees and find the missing.” 

No timeline has been fixed for the 45-member drafting body. The aim is to reach a consensus on all the issues raised and any change must be adopted by at least 75% of the votes. 

The UN views the work on the Syrian constitution as a key step towards implementing the 2012 roadmap to peace adopted by key nations, which includes a cease-fire and ends with UN-supervised elections and was endorsed in the 2015 UN Security Council Resolution 2254external link. The roadmap was approved by representatives of the UN, the Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five veto-wielding council members — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France.

Keystone-SDA/AP/sb

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