Syria talks resume in Geneva after Covid-19 suspension

The Syrian Constitutional Committee Co-Chair Hadi al-Bahra wearing face mask as precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The Syrian Constitutional Committee resumed talks in Geneva on Thursday afternoon after a three-day pause due to positive cases of coronavirus among four participants.

This content was published on August 27, 2020 - 15:37

The United Nations Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said talks will restart “with all the necessary precautions” after health authorities deemed that there was no further risk of contagion.

He added that while follow-up testing done in recent days indicated that the earlier positive cases do not pose any risk, the talks would only proceed at the Palais des Nations in Geneva among those who have tested negative.

Participants had been tested for the coronavirus before and after arrival in Geneva. The wearing of masks and strict social distancing measures were also in place when they met at the Palais des Nations at the start of the week.

However, the cases were discovered a few hours after the talks began, leading to the 45 members of the constitutional committee being required to quarantine in their hotel and continue working online.

The talks aim to make progress in drafting a new Syrian charter to pave the way for UN-sponsored elections, in line with a stalled 2015 UN Security Council resolution. The committee is made up of representatives from the Syrian government, the opposition, and civil society.

The desire to resume talks is “a signal of the importance of this process”, Pederson said.

The meeting is the first of its kind in nine months and the third session of the constitutional committee. The pandemic forced the postponement of an earlier meeting in March.

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