The Norwegian diplomat has been tasked with bringing all parties together to draft a new Syrian charter that could pave the way for UN-sponsored elections. Keystone / Martial Trezzini
The fifth round of talks at the United Nations in Geneva to draft a new Syrian constitution and pave the way to peace in the war-torn country have ended without progress.
This content was published on January 30, 2021 –
UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen expressed frustration over the lack of progress achieved at the latest round of talks of the so-called Constitutional Committee for Syria.
“This week has been a disappointment,” Pedersen told reporters on Friday. “I set out a few things I thought we should be able to achieve before we started this meeting and I’m afraid we did not manage to achieve these things.”
Pedersen explained that Syrian government representatives had rejected separate proposals on working methods from both the opposition and the UN envoy.
The United States and a few other countries have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of deliberately stalling and delaying the drafting of a new constitution until after presidential elections are held this year.
The UN envoy said that a mechanism was needed to allow the parties to identify points of agreement and disagreement in order to revise the Constitution.
“I told the 45 members of the drafting bodies we can’t continue like this,” Pedersen told reporters in Geneva after five days of meetings. There is no set date for another round of talks. Pedersen indicated that he will brief the UN Security Council on February 9.
The talks aim to make progress in drafting a new Syrian charter to pave the way for UN-sponsored elections. The core group of the constitutional committee is composed of 45 people – representing equally the Damascus government, the opposition and civil society.
In August, the Syrian Constitutional Committee met in Geneva for the third round of talks after a three-day pause due to positive cases of coronavirus among four participants. All members were required to quarantine in their hotel and continue working online. After the fourth round of talks in December, the committee had agreed on the agenda for the next round of discussions – “constitutional principles” – giving rise to tentative hope.