UN envoy heads to Syria to revive constitution talks

UN Syria envoy heads to Damascus to revive stalled constitution talks
2 min read
09 September, 2021
UN Syria Envoy Geir Pedersen will head to Damascus on Saturday in an attempt to revive the constitutional talks in Damascus.
Saturday's meeting will be Pedersen's first visit to Syria since February [Getty]

The UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen will be in Damascus on Saturday in an attempt to convene a sixth round of the Syrian constitutional committee.

The meeting was first reported by Syrian pro-government newspaper al-Watan on Wednesday, citing diplomatic sources in Damascus. According to the report, Pedersen will meet with Syrian foreign minister, Faisal Miqdad to discuss the “details of convening the sixth round of the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva.”

This will follow Pedersen’s meeting with Russian Envoy to the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on September 4, in which the UN official also pushed for the resumption of the constitutional talks.

The UN-facilitated Syrian constitutional committee is a dialogue series in Geneva where three groups of Syrians representing the regime, the opposition, and civil society, meet to draw up a new constitution for the country. It is a part of UNSC resolution 2254, which aims to create a political solution to the now decade-long civil war in Syria.

The constitutional committee has met five times, but has yet to agree to create the framework for drafting the new constitution.

The last meeting collapsed after the regime delegation asked to discuss the lifting of sanctions on Syria and the exit of all foreign armies from Syria, rather than the Syrian constitution. Past meetings ended similarly, with procedural issues or disagreements preventing substantive discussions on the constitution.

In a briefing given to the UNSC on August 24, Pedersen said that while he is continuing his efforts to revive the constitutional committee, “it is not easy.”

“The impasse of course highlights issues of lack of trust, and also of political will, which have paralysed efforts to advance a political solution,” he added.

After the last round of the constitutional committee, the opposition delegation said it would not return to Geneva unless the regime delegation promised it would adhere to a specific agenda and topics in future meetings.