World, Middle East

Syrian Constitutional Committee begins second day

150 committee members face 'momentous' task, says committee shair

Peter Kenny   | 31.10.2019
Syrian Constitutional Committee begins second day Delegations of Syrian parties arrive for the day 2 of work of Syrian Constitutional Committee, in Geneva, Switzerland on October 31, 2019. ( Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency )

GENEVA

The Syrian Constitutional Committee -- made up of members of the opposition, civil society, and regime -- began its second day of work on Thursday in Geneva with talks on a constitutional roadmap.

The committee is mandated, within the context of a UN-facilitated Geneva process, to prepare and draft constitutional reforms paving the way for a political settlement in Syria, to be held to popular approval.

Special UN Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, together with Constitutional Committee co-chairs Ahmad Kuzbari from the Syrian regime and Hadi Albahra from the opposition, chaired the meeting after the previous’ day’s opening ceremony attended by its 150 members.

"This is a historic moment, because for the first time, 50 nominees of the government and 50 nominees of the opposition are sitting face-to-face -- but also two co-chairs side-by-side [...] a chance for something new for Syria," Pedersen, who will chair the talks, said on Monday at the committee's launch.

While saying their meeting is a "sign of hope", he said the committee was "duty bound to strive to take on board the views of all your fellow citizens."

Thursday’s talks will involve face-to-face discussions, which will be followed by the designation of a 45-strong body -- 15 from each of the Syrian regime, the opposition and the civil society blocs -- to start work on a new constitution aiming for UN-supervised elections.

The goal is for consensus decisions where possible, and otherwise with a majority of 75%.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, over 5 million civilians have become refugees. Turkey hosts 3.6 million of them, more than any country in the world.

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