GENEVA - The U.N. special envoy for Syria says work has begun on establishing a committee that will aim to produce a new constitution for Syria when it finally emerges from war.
The issue of a Syrian national constitution is a major bone of contention among the relevant participants in this war-torn country. The United Nations wants the government, the opposition, and members of civil society to draft a new document.
The opposition agrees with this position, but President Bashar Assad’s government will only consent to amendments to the current constitution.
The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, reports a little progress on this issue. He says the Syrian government has sent him a list of 50 names it has chosen for the committee and the opposition is preparing a list of its own.
“As we proceed methodically and carefully in the task of facilitating the establishment of a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led constitutional committee, we recall that this is a key building block of a revitalized political process,” de Mistura said. “... I do not expect, let us be frank, a major breakthrough. OK? But, I am confident that progress is possible.”
De Mistura has invited senior Iranian, Russian and Turkish officials to Geneva for consultations early next week on how to move ahead in the establishment of a constitutional committee.
He says he also has invited a so-called small group of countries that include France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and United States to come to Geneva the week after to hear their views on this issue. He says the United States has confirmed its attendance for June 25 and hopes to hold the meeting on that date.
The Syrian civil war, now in its eighth year, has displaced more than 11 million people.