Syria Constitutional Committee quarantined in Geneva

The talks have been organised by UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen Keystone / Martial Trezzini

The Syrian Constitutional Committee, which began its first session in nine months in Geneva on Monday as part of efforts to find a political solution to end Syria’s war, was swiftly put “on hold” after four members tested positive for Covid-19, the United Nations said.

This content was published on August 25, 2020 - 11:20

The committee’s 45 members will have to stay in their hotel for two to ten days. They will continue to work online, said the committee's co-chair, Hadi al-Bahra.

Hours earlier, US Syria envoy James Jeffrey told reporters that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed “under some Russian pressure” to take part in the week-long talks.

The session, organised by UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen, is aimed at making 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.

Pedersen’s office did not identify which four of the 45 members of the so-called small body of the Constitutional Committee were infected. One third is nominated by the Syrian government, one third by the opposition, and one third by civil society.

“Committee members were tested before they travelled to Geneva, and they were tested again on arrival, and the wearing of masks and strict social distancing measures were in place when they met at the Palais des Nations,” the statement said.

“Following a constructive first meeting, the Third Session of the Constitutional Committee is currently on hold. The Office of the Special Envoy will make a further announcement in due course,” it said, adding that Swiss authorities had been informed and contact-tracing was under way.

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