GENEVA - U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen says Syria’s Constitutional Committee will meet October 30 to begin the process of re-writing or drafting a new constitution for the war-torn country.
It took nearly two years of negotiations to finalize the composition of the Constitutional Committee. Pedersen says this is the first agreement of its kind after more than eight years of conflict.
He says the committee will not solve the crisis in Syria, but it could help bridge differences in Syrian society and build trust. He says it could be a door-opener to the broader political process.
He adds achieving a nationwide cease-fire would move the procedure forward, and might help stabilize the situation in Idlib and in the northeast.
Syria and its ally Russia are engaged in a military offensive to retake the region from the al-Qaida-linked militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
“The situation in the northeast is one of many challenges that we do have," says Pedersen. "What we have made sure is that the committee has a broad representation from all segments of the Syrian society. You know different ethnic, different religious communities and, of course, different political affiliations.”
The 150-member committee is divided into three groups of 50 government, 50 opposition and 50 civil society members, 30 percent of whom are women. The entire group will gather in the same room at the start of the meeting and then break up into small sessions to discuss various aspects of the proposed constitution.
The gathering is seen as an important first step in ending Syria’s long-fought civil war -- a conflict that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced more than 12 million -- both internally and as refugees.
Pedersen says releasing detainees and providing information on missing persons could help build confidence and trust among the warring parties. He says that could help the Constitutional Committee negotiate an agreement that reflects the needs of society as a whole.