The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, announced that the Constitutional Committee would hold its 6th session in Geneva as of 18 October, after nearly nine months of stalemate in the political process.
During his briefing to the Security Council on Syria, the envoy began his briefing by referring to the horrific suffering and losses of the Syrian people, indicating that “more than 12 million Syrians are displaced – that’s half of Syria’s pre-conflict population. Tens of thousands remain detained, abducted, or missing.”
“Poverty levels are approaching 90% after a decade of conflict, mismanagement, and corruption, and now the impact of the Lebanese economic collapse, COVID and, indeed, sanctions,” he noted.
Pedersen said he believes that the time had come to press for a political process following Resolution 2254.
The envoy indicated multiple sources of concern in Syria, including the “ongoing shelling and skirmishes among non-state armed groups and the Turkish military on front-lines across the perimeter of northwest Syria and northern rural Aleppo.”
He also noted that the various terrorist groups listed by the United Nations still operate throughout Syria, referring to the recent attacks by ISIS.
“I am sure that the situation on the ground in Idlib and elsewhere will be an important issue when Presidents Putin and Erdogan meet tomorrow, and I continue to appeal for those with influence to promote calm.”
Pedersen also announced that Russian-US contacts to pursue humanitarian progress in the framework of Resolution 2585 have continued. Indeed, the UN is committed to doing all it can to implement the resolution in all its aspects fully.
Pedersen said he had good news to report, noting that following eight months of intensive facilitation with the co-chairs, they agreed on methodology, and invitations have been issued for the meeting.
He explained that the co-chair’s agreement on methodology is based on three pillars: respect for the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, submission of texts of basic constitutional principles in advance of the meetings, and regular co-chair meetings with me before and during the coming session.
The Co-Chairs are also committed to setting provisional dates for future meetings and to discuss a work-plan.
He called for a genuine intra-Syrian political dialogue, which was reportedly discussed when President Putin met President Assad in Moscow recently.
“I am convinced that Geneva can be the place where Syrians committed to durable peace can begin to work with each other in a constructive manner.”
Pedersen recalled that Resolution 2254 also encouraged the meaningful participation of Syrian women in the political process, stressing “the importance of action on the crucial file of detainees, abductees and missing persons.”
He hoped that concerted international cooperation would help focus on the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of refugees, considering that “conditions are not ripe for most of them.”