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UN Envoy Urges Moscow to Ensure Success of Syria’s Constitutional Committee Meetings

UN Envoy Urges Moscow to Ensure Success of Syria’s Constitutional Committee Meetings

Sunday, 24 January, 2021 - 09:30
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen (C) listens to speakers during a UN Security Council meeting on Syria at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, US, April 30, 2019. (AP)

The fifth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee meetings will convene in Geneva on Monday.

Representatives of the government, the opposition and civil society will participate in the UN-mediated talks of the 45-member “small body”.

The body works closely with a larger 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. The committee is an essential part of the UN efforts to end the devastating Syrian conflict through Syrian ownership and leadership.

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen urged Moscow to prepare the ground for the Geneva meetings, hoping to achieve a breakthrough.

He made his remarks during a telephone call with Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Pedersen hoped the co-chairs of the committee would agree on action plans with clear agendas to achieve progress in the constitutional process.

During a press conference in Geneva on Friday, Pedersen said his hope has been that the Constitutional Committee, if it is handled in the correct manner, could start to build trust and could be a door-opener for a broader political process.

“But the Constitutional Committee cannot work in isolation from other factors, we need political will from the different parties to be able to move forward.”

Despite the relative calm since March during the nearly decade of conflict in Syria, Pedersen warned that the situation could collapse at any moment, stressing that “this is a fragile calm.”

“All of these issues cannot be sorted out by the Syrians alone, it needs an international cooperation, and what I said we need real negotiations and for the different parties to sit down and have a real exchange of views on how to more this process forward,” he urged.

Pedersen further noted that if the political will is lacking, “it would be very, very difficult to move this process forward.”

He acknowledged that the political process, so far, is not yet delivering real changes in the lives of Syrians, nor a real vision for the future.

“As I emphasized many times, it is now clear that no one actor or group of actors can impose their will on Syria or settle the conflict alone, they must work together.”

Monday’s meeting is very important, the UN official noted, adding that he told the Security Council that the time has come for the co-chairs to establish “more effective and operational working methods” so that the meetings can be better organized and more focused.

“We need to ensure that the Committee begins to move from preparing a constitutional reform into actually drafting one,” he stressed.

Pedersen pointed out that he has been proposing that the co-chairs begin considering specific constitutional issues, draft provisions and reach an agreement on work plans for future meetings with clear agendas and topics.

Despite the differences, key states are continuing to reaffirm their commitment to UN Security Council resolution 2254, which was adopted in December 2015, and calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

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