A new round of talks involving the Constitutional Committee, seeking a solution to the ongoing 11-year war in Syria, resumed in Geneva on Monday.
The five days of talks scheduled to end on Friday involve both the Assad regime and the opposition, and are taking place at Geneva’s Intercontinental Hotel instead of the Palais des Nations, the European headquarter of the UN.
UN Special Envoy on Syria Geir Pedersen said at a news conference on Sunday that he did not want to predict the outcome of the seventh round of talks after the last round in October ended in “disappointment.”
It is now close to two and a half years since we had the first meeting. I will not pre-judge the outcome of this session,” Pedersen told journalists.
During the sixth-round meetings in Geneva, the co-chairman of the delegation representing the Assad regime, the lawyer Ahmed Kuzbari, and the co-chairman of the opposition, Hadi al-Bahra, had sat at the same table for the first time.
As the talks ended on October 22, Pedersen said: “Today’s talks were a huge disappointment.”
“We didn’t achieve what we hoped to achieve. I think we lacked a proper understanding of how to move that process forward. So, in the end, the government delegation decided not to present any new text,” he said in criticism of the regime.
The Syrian civil war began in March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
According to UN estimates, hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and millions more displaced.
As part of a diplomatic initiative to end the war, the Syrian Constitutional Committee was founded. The Committee consists of two structures, large and small.
The large structure includes all the committee members and consists of three groups: the regime, the opposition delegation, and civil society representatives.
The small body consists of 15 people selected from each group and is responsible for writing the constitution.
The large 150-person structure must approve the drafts prepared by the 45-person editorial board, and at least 75 percent of the members must vote “yes” for a decision to be taken.