|UN Special Envoy for Syria (centre), and Syrian Constitutional Committee Co-Chairs Ahmad Kuzbari from the Government (left) and Hadi Albahra from the Opposition (right) (File photo of Geir O. Pedersen, news.un.org)
The Syrian Constitutional Committee has 150 members, 50 members each from the government, the opposition, and civil groups nominated by the UN. A sub-committee will have 45 members, 15 members each nominated by the government, who will discuss and propose Constitutional principles to the Committee for approval.
The Syrian Constitutional Committee builds trust
The Syrian Constitutional Committee was established in October, 2019, after Russia-backed peace talks. It’s the first direct political agreement between the government and the opposition to realize part of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254 on schedule and manner to build a new Constitution. The Committee has the option of either revising the 2012 Constitution and previous Syrian Constitution or drafting a new constitution.
Over the last 2 years, the Committee has convened 5 meetings, but has made little progress due to sharp differences between the government and the opposition. Observers hope the Geneva talks will help Syria deliver a new Constitution acceptable to both sides.
Syria entered a political crisis in March, 2011, that started with small protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Demonstrations spread throughout the nation and turned into a bloody civil war. The self-proclaimed Islamic State group started growing in Syria, drawing other countries into a war against IS and an effort to restore peace in Syria.
Restoring peace in Syria will be difficult
More than a decade of fighting in Syria involving Western countries and Western-aligned Arab countries against Syrian-government supporters like Russia, China, and Iran has killed 400,000 people and displaced millions of others.
Now the Syrian government has regained control of almost all Syrian territory, but it will take decades to rebuild the damaged infrastructure. National divisions will make it difficult for Syria to recover, and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the difficulty. The UN warns that without international support, 60% of Syria’s people will face starvation this year, particularly those in still-disputed areas.
Children have been the most vulnerable victims of the prolonged war. UNICEF says that in the last decade more than a million Syrian children were born in refugee camps outside Syria, nearly 3.5 million children are out of school, and 90% of Syria’s children need material and psychological help.
Conflicts occur daily in Syria. Even with support from many countries and international organizations, restoring peace in Syria will be difficult. Millions of Syrian people are waiting for new, democratic elections, which cannot be held until a new Constitution is in place. Resuming Constitutional Committee talks is the next essential step toward securing the country and resolving the current humanitarian crisis.