UN Syria envoy visits Damascus, sees 'new openings' for political process

UN Syria envoy visits Damascus, sees 'new openings' for political process
2 min read
13 December, 2021
UN Syria Envoy Geir Pedersen said that he sees 'possibilities of new openings… for the political process' after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad in Damascus on Sunday.
UN Envoy Geir Pedersen said that no new date had been set for the next round of consitutional committee meetings[Getty]

UN Syria Envoy Geir Pedersen said that he sees "possibilities of new openings" for a political process after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad in Damascus on Sunday.

Pedersen visited Damascus on Sunday, where he met with the Syrian FM, as well as the co-chair of the Constitutional Committee.

The Constitutional Committee is an UN-sponsored dialogue process between Syrian civil society groups, the opposition, and the regime to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country.

It has met six times since its inception but has achieved virtually nothing.

The last meeting was a "big disappointment", according to Pedersen, with both sides failing to come to an agreement on even the framework for drafting a new constitution.

Pedersen told reporters on Sunday that a date for the next round of talks was still not set.

He added, however, that a "step-for-step" approach could start to be explored. Such an approach would put concrete steps linked with the humanitarian and economic situation on the table which would "start to build some trust" in the political process.

Pedersen followed up his visit to Damascus with meetings with Lebanese officials on Monday. He met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, PM Najijb Mikati, and FM Abdallah Bou Habib and security officials.

These meetings were a "part of his continuing consultations in pursuance of his mandate in Security Council resolution 2254", Jenifer Fenton, spokesperson for the Special Envoy for the Secretary-General for Syria, told The New Arab.

Pedersen will return to Geneva on Tuesday, and will brief the UN Security Council on 20 December, Fenton added.

UN Security Council Members passed Security Council Resolution 2254 in 2015, which called for a ceasefire and political solution to the Syrian civil war.

The resolution also provides a roadmap for a political solution in the country, of which the constitutional committee is a foundational step.

Neither the ceasefire nor the political solution has come to pass and the civil war has continued, killing at least 350,000 over the last decade.