NEW YORK: Parties to the conflict in Syria will return to the negotiating table in October to discuss a new constitution, Geir Pederson, UN special envoy for the country, said on Tuesday.
However, members of the UN Security Council have warned that obstacles persist to a political resolution of the conflict.
Pederson said the Syrian Constitutional Committee, formed two years ago after intensive negotiations, had agreed on a methodology for moving forward and would meet for the first time in eight months in October.
So far, he added, the committee had “not yet started to make steady progress in its mandate,” which is to draft a new constitution as part of the Syrian peace process initiated in 2015.
The talks, scheduled for mid-October in Geneva, will be the commission’s sixth round. The parties will submit their draft constitutional texts at the meeting.
“We should all now expect the Constitutional Commission to begin serious work on a process of drafting – not just preparing – for constitutional reform,” Pederson said.
âIf so, then we will have a different and credible constitutional process. We need it if we are to establish a minimum of trust.
And confidence, he said, is a commodity desperately lacking in Syria. Ten years of war claimed the lives of 350,000 people – at the very least – and displaced more than 12 million people.
“It is clear from all of our engagements that trust is low, but it is also clear that common interests exist, that things are not static and that there is every reason to try now to build a political effort. more efficient, âadded Pederson.
Despite the timid progress, members of the Security Council continue to express their dissatisfaction with the pace and trajectory of the political process in Syria.
Barbara Woodward, UK ambassador to the UN, said she welcomed the October meeting, but warned that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad had not yet participated in good faith in the talks .
“The next meeting must be different from the ones before it,” she added. “It is time for the regime to end its artificial delays in the process and for substantial progress to be made on a new constitution, as envisioned in (UN) resolution 2254.”
This resolution, adopted in 2015, instructs the UN to facilitate a Syrian-led political process to end the war, including the creation of a new constitution.
In 2019, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the resolution, if effectively implemented by all parties, was “the start of the political path out of the tragedy” plaguing Syria. since the start of the popular uprising in 2011.
Despite the diplomatic agreement, the reality on the ground in Syria means that a political resolution to the conflict has long remained elusive.
External involvement in the war complicated the path to peace as external actors prioritized their interests in the country over those of the Syrian people.
As active fighting has waned over the past two years, the conflict has come to a standstill, as has the path to a lasting solution.
“As long as the political process has not progressed, and as long as there is no ceasefire at the national level, the suffering of the Syrian people will continue and the millions of displaced will not be able to return” , Woodward said.
The Russian delegate to the UN accused Turkey and Israel of destabilizing the peace process in Syria by their interventions in the country.
Moscow intervened on behalf of the Assad regime in 2015 and turned the tide of the war against the rebels.
Richard Mills, deputy US representative to the UN, called on the Assad regime to “unilaterally and immediately release the tens of thousands of men, women and children arbitrarily detained in its custody.”
This, he said, could serve as a âconfidence-buildingâ measure that would build confidence and âstrengthen the political processâ.
But, echoing the British position, he added: âWe have yet to see significant efforts from the Syrian regime.