New Syria constitutional committee meets for first time
The first meeting of a 45-member body tasked with drafting a new constitution for Syria took place in Geneva on Monday, with the opposition co-chair saying initial signs were "positive".
The constitutional review is a central part of the UN plan defined by Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015, to pave the way for a political settlement and possible elections.
The 150-member committee selected to write the constitution for Syria agreed last week on a 45-member drafting body to begin work.
Read more: New Syria committee meets for first time to discuss drafting constitution
"I could say it turned out in a positive way because we have decided the method of the agenda which will start following tomorrow," Hadi al-Bahra, co-chair for the opposition group, told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
"There was consensus among all the parties involved in the committee," he added.
UN special envoy Geir Pedersen, who is facilitating meetings of the constitutional committee in Geneva, said last week that the opening session on Wednesday was followed by two days of "very successful" meetings.
He told reporters after the three days of initial meetings ended it isn't surprising that after more than eight years of conflict in Syria, "there are deep differences, a lot of suspicion, and a lack of trust".
But Pedersen said the fact that representatives from the government, opposition and civil society "have been sitting together, respecting each other, talking to each other... was quite impressive".
And he praised the co-chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari from the government and Hadi al-Bahra from the opposition, who will alternately chair future meetings.
The talks have no fixed end date, and repeated UN efforts to host talks on ending the Syrian civil war have largely failed.
An agreement to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution for Syria was reached at a Russia-hosted Syrian peace conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in January 2018.
There was early agreement on 50-member lists from the Syrian government and from the opposition.
But it took nearly 20 months to agree on the list the United Nations was authorised to put together representing experts, independents, tribal leaders and women, mainly because of objections from the Syrian regime.