The committee is to include 150 members — a third picked by the regime, another by the opposition, and the remaining third by the United Nations.

The UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen (C-L) arrived in Damascus for fresh talks on forming a constitutional committee to revive a stalling peace process to end the eight-year war, on September 23, 2019.
The UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen (C-L) arrived in Damascus for fresh talks on forming a constitutional committee to revive a stalling peace process to end the eight-year war, on September 23, 2019. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday the creation of a committee on Syria that will include regime and opposition representatives to draft a post-war constitution.

"I firmly believe that the launching of a Syrian-organised and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee can be the beginning of a political path towards a solution" to the years-long war, Guterres told reporters.

Guterres said his envoy to the war-torn country, Geir Pedersen, would bring the committee together in the coming weeks.

The committee is to include 150 members — a third picked by the regime, another third by the opposition, and the remaining third by the United Nations.

Unclear what committee might achieve

Monday's announcement came after Guterres said last week that an agreement had been reached concerning the "the composition of the committee."

The UN-backed push to form a constitutional committee had been bogged down by disagreements with the Syrian regime over the makeup of the body.

It is also unclear what the committee might achieve. Damascus hoped to amend the current constitution, while the opposition wants to write a new one from scratch.

Arguments over who would take on which roles on the committee also delayed the process.

Numerous rounds of UN-led peace talks have failed to end a war that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions since erupting in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

With key military backing from Russia, Assad's forces have retaken large parts of Syria from opposition and militants since 2015, and now control around 60 percent of the country.

Parallel negotiations

In recent years, a parallel negotiations track led by regime ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey has taken precedence.

At a summit on Syria with Russian and Iran hosted by Turkey earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the participants would urge the constitutional committee to begin work as soon as possible.

At a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. This was a key step toward elections and a political settlement to the Syrian conflict.

There was an early agreement on 50-member lists from the Syrian regime and the opposition. 

But it has taken nearly 20 months to agree on the list the United Nations was authorised to put together representing experts, independents, tribal leaders, and women, mainly because of objections from the Syrian regime.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies