UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, on Sunday welcomed the consensus reached by both Co-Chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee (Small Drafting Body) to not only agree to prepare for constitutional reform, but also to start “a drafting process” on a text that will help support a peaceful future for the country, after more than a decade of war.
The development follows close to nine months of negotiations led by Mr. Pedersen with the Co-Chairs - who represent the Government of Syria and the opposition - to reach consensus on constitutional reform. Syrian civil society is represented by the so-called “Middle Third”.
It comes after the fifth meeting of the 45-member Small Drafting Body in January, where the Special Envoy said that insufficient progress had been made and that there was a realization that “we could not continue the way we have been going”.
To prepare for the week-long session in the Swiss city, the Special Envoy explained that in a first on Sunday, the two Co-Chairs “were sitting down together with me for a substantial and frank discussion on how we are to proceed with constitutional reform and indeed what we are planning for the week ahead of us”.
Important as constitutional reform is to a durable peace in Syria, Mr. Pedersen insisted that the Committee would not be able to solve the Syrian crisis on its own, in an appeal for continued international efforts to help the devastated country and its people.
“There are more than 13 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance and 90 per cent of those in the country live below the poverty line,” he said.
It is nearly two years since the first meeting of the full Syrian Constitutional Committee, a 150-member body which comprises 50 representatives of the Syrian Government, 50 from the opposition and 50 from civil society. Fifteen members of each bloc represent the Small Drafting Body.