Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN hopes for progress in Syria constitution talks



UN hopes for progress in Syria constitution talks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People wave opposition flags at a rally marking 11 years since the start of an anti-regime uprising, in the city of al-Bab in Syria’s northern Aleppo governorate on March 15. AFP

UN hopes for progress in Syria constitution talks

Talks on a new constitution for Syria resume late last week in Geneva, with the UN mediator hopeful of making headway.

Back in October, the sixth round of discussions between 15 representatives each from President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition, and civil society, ended with no agreement on how to move things forward.

But UN envoy Geir Pedersen said the two co-chairs – from the government and the opposition – had now come up with an improved procedure for finding common ground on the final day of the talks, which will be on March 25.

“Syria remains one of the gravest crises in the world and there is a clear need for progress towards a political solution,” Pedersen told reporters on March 20.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was created in September 2019 and first convened a month later.

The tentative negotiations are aimed at rewriting the war-torn country’s constitution. It is hoped the talks could pave the way towards a broader political process.

“The committee should work in a way that builds trust and confidence,” Pedersen said.

“During this session I hope to see the constitutional committee work with a sense of seriousness and purpose and determination to make progress that the situation demands.

“If the three delegations do what they have said they will do, I hope that we can see some steady progress.”

This seventh round of talks will focus on four principles: the basics of governance; state identity; state symbols; and the structure and functions of public authorities.

The delegates will spend one day working on each principle, before spending March 25 trying to concretise any advances made.

Ahmad Kuzbari, the head of the government delegation, and Syrian opposition negotiations leader Hadi al-Bahra, have co-chaired the talks thus far.

They traded barbs after October’s sixth round of talks, pointing the finger at each other for the lack of progress.

But Pedersen said the co-chairs had now reached an understanding on how business should proceed on the last day, namely a better mechanism for revisions of proposed constitutional texts.

“I’m looking forward to seeing on Friday how this will be put into practice,” the Norwegian diplomat said.

Pedersen met jointly with the co-chairs on March 20, during which they decided on the four topics to be discussed last week.

That was followed by the three of them holding talks with the 15 civil society representatives.

Pedersen said they were “good meetings” and “hopefully that will make it possible for us to make progress”.

Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after the violent repression of protests demanding regime change.

It quickly spiralled into a complex conflict that pulled in numerous actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers. The war has left around half a million people dead, displaced millions and devastated its infrastructure.

Throughout the civil war, the UN has been striving to nurture a political resolution.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway