As the “first concrete political agreement” between the Government and opposition groups, it “implies a clear acceptance of the other as an interlocutor”, said Geir Pedersen.
“It commits their nominees to sit together in face-to-face dialogue and negotiation, while at the same time opening the space for civil society at the table”.
After years of intense negotiation, Secretary-General António Guterres announced that the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission had agreed to form “a credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee that will be facilitated by the UN in Geneva”.
It offers “a new social contract to help repair a broken country”, he flagged, saying it “can be a door opener to a wider political process” and, if accompanied by other steps to build trust and confidence among Syrians and the international community, “a step along the difficult path out of this conflict”.
The agreement’s core terms of reference are framed by the key principles of respect for the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
The UN envoy outlined the Committee’s structure, which will consist of “equal co-chairs” one from the Government and the other from the opposition.
“Both parties have told me that they have confidence in the United Nations and want to work with us in a sustained and constructive manner,” said Mr. Pedersen, adding: “We will do everything we can to meet their expectations”.
“Ensuring sufficient credibility, balance and inclusivity…has been a key priority”, the UN envoy said, admitting that “the result is a negotiated compromise, and like all compromises, no one is completely satisfied”.
The envoy lauded the “outstanding work” of “Syrian experts and activists, men and women, on all sides” that have helped create this new public space for democratic and civic debates.
“The future constitution of Syria belongs to the Syrian people and them alone”, he stressed.
“Syrians, not outsiders, will draft the constitution, and the Syrian people must popularly approve it”, maintained Mr. Pedersen.
The Special Envoy recognized that many challenges persist, and appealed to all parties to “seize upon the momentum that the Committee offers and take concrete actions, to build trust and confidence”.
“Step by step”, Mr. Pederson told Council members, “we need to build the kind of safe, calm and neutral environment that could make Syrians feel that the political process can restore their country and respond to their aspirations.”
Darul Ihsan Media Desk