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UN: Syrian parties reached agreement on forming constitutional committee

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that Syrian parties had reached an “agreement” to form a committee to prepare a new constitution for the country, a move the United Nations sees as a key gateway to the political process aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict.

“There is now agreement among all parties on the composition of the commission,” Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. “(UN envoy) Ged Pedersen is finalizing the terms of reference with the parties and we hope that will be finalized soon.”

“I hope this is a very important step in creating the conditions for a political solution to this tragic conflict.”

The UN has been working for months to form the committee, which should consist of 150 members, 50 selected by the regime, 50 by the opposition and 50 by the UN special envoy to take into account the views of experts and representatives of civil society.

The names in the third list, which have caused disagreements between Damascus and the United Nations, have yet to be agreed, but diplomats said the dispute between the two sides narrowed over the summer to just one.

While the opposition is demanding the drafting of a new constitution for Syria, the regime rejects this, proposing to discuss the current constitution and make amendments to it.

Pederson, a veteran diplomat, faces the daunting task of reviving negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition at the United Nations, after all previous rounds have clashed with conflicting demands from both sides of the conflict.

In addition to the composition of the Constitutional Commission, the disagreement between the opposition and the regime also revolves around the mechanism of work of this committee and the distribution of responsibilities among its members. Diplomats fear it will take several months to put into practice.

The UN envoy, who took office in January 2019, hopes to revive the stalled peace process after more than eight years of war in the country.

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