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UN calls on Syria regime to continue constitutional talks toward political resolution

March 19, 2024 at 8:19 am

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen on December 02, 2022 [Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen has called on Syria’s regime to continue talks on revising the Syrian constitution, in an effort to kick-start the country’s peace process through a political resolution.

Speaking to reporters in the capital Damascus following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, on Sunday, Pedersen lamented that the “situation in Syria now is extremely difficult, and I think all indicators are pointing in the wrong direction when it comes to security, when it comes to the economy and when it comes to the political process.”

Emphasising that there is a need for “progress on the political front”, the envoy urged the regime to be willing to “continue to meet in Geneva and develop the constitutional committee and the work of the committee in the manner that could give hope to the Syrian people.”

Over the past 13 years of Syria’s ongoing civil war, the Assad regime – with the assistance of its allies Russia and Iran – has retaken much of the country’s territory, and the various armed opposition groups have been holding out in the north, north-west and south-east of the country. The situation has resulted in a stalemate, with no side yet willing to advance on the other, and with the humanitarian crisis in Syria continuing to be dire.

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The loss of much of the country’s territory to the regime has forced the Syrian opposition to largely put aside aims of Al-Assad’s overthrow and instead agree on a revised Syrian constitution, leading the way toward a political resolution rather than a military one.

It was with that aim that Pedersen, since October 2019, has attempted to make progress with a “constitutional committee” to rewrite or amend the constitution in the Swiss city of Geneva. Those talks halted in 2022, however, after Russia objected to them being held in Switzerland due to its imposition of sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, Pedersen announced the ninth round of talks, saying that he invited participants for the meeting to be held in Geneva in late April and warning that “an indefinite hiatus can only undermine the constitutional committee’s credibility and work”. He then revealed, though, that Syria and Russia had rejected the invitation, with an alternate venue not having been agreed upon.

Read: A solution for Syria is complicated and needs serious commitment