UN gets the establishment of a "Constitutional Committee" for Syria

Discussions between representatives of the regime and the opposition are expected to be difficult.

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Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy on Syria, on 23 September in Damascus. LOUAI BESHARA / AFP

This is the first concrete result of the arduous Syrian peace talks, begun in January 2014, under the auspices of the United Nations, and since then have been pursued intermittently, in parallel with the fighting. After hundreds of thousands of deaths, and as the civil war nears its end, the opposition and the Syrian government reached an agreement on the formation of a constitutional committee. The announcement was made Monday, September 23 by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. This advance " can and must be the beginning of a political exit " of the conflict, judged the very optimistic patron of the UN, back from the ground where the victory, by arms and without appeal, the victory of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

The idea of ​​forming a Constitutional Committee, responsible for drafting a new version of the Constitution, was approved in January 2018, at a conference organized by Russia, ally of Damascus, in the seaside resort of Sochi, on the black Sea. The project stemmed from UN resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015, which sets out a three-stage conflict resolution plan: first, the introduction of a new inclusive and non-sectarian "governance" and then the reform constitutionally, and finally the holding of free elections, under UN supervision.

But, with the advance of loyalist troops on the ground, facilitated by the coverage of Russian aviation, the Kremlin has imposed to start the peace process by the second step, the least disturbing for his Syrian protégé. An approach validated, for want of anything better, by Staffan de Mistura, the Italian-Swedish special envoy of the UN on Syria. Absent from the Sochi meeting, which they had boycotted, the leaders of the Syrian Committee for Negotiations (CSN), which brings together the main opposition parties, have also joined the Russian reading of resolution 2254. .

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The tug-of-war to which the simple selection of the members of the Constitutional Committee has given rise gives an idea of ​​the difficulties to come. The CSN and the government, each with a quota of 50 delegates in the committee, fought for 20 months on the identity of the last 50 members, representatives of civil society and experts, supposed to be independent and whose appointment was incumbent at the UN. As an expert in delaying tactics, the Syrian regime has constantly demanded name changes, arrogating to itself a right to look at the UN quota, and resulting in repeated blockages. Exhausted, Staffan de Mistura, the third UN mediator since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, ended up returning his apron in November 2018.


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