No progress in Syria talks

There has been no progress in talks on a new constitution for Syria. The latest round in Geneva was a "big disappointment," said UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen.

There has been no progress in talks on a new constitution for Syria. The latest talks between representatives of the government in Damascus, the Turkish-backed "opposition" and civil society were a "big disappointment," said UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen after the multi-day meeting in Geneva. He said there was a lack of understanding of how the parties could move the process forward. A new date for further rounds of talks had not been agreed initially, he said.

Since Monday, the so-called constitutional committee had been discussing guidelines for a new constitution for Syria with the UN special envoy. It was the first time that concrete texts were to be discussed. The previous five rounds remained bogged down in disagreements over procedure. The long-term goal is to draft a new constitution under UN supervision, hold a referendum on it and call new elections.

Constitutional Committee

The Constitutional Committee for Syria was formed in early 2018 and emerged as a result of talks between Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Astana and eventually in Sochi. The meetings that followed served primarily to delineate individual spheres of interest and broker deals between Russia and Turkey. The Constitutional Committee consists of three blocs of 50 delegates each, representing the regime, the pro-Turkish "National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces," and civil society. The legal basis for the committee is UN Security Council Resolution 2254 of 2015, which stipulates the formation of a constitutional body as part of a comprehensive peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, which represents six million people in the country, is not represented on the constitutional committee.