UN envoy: More work needed on Syria constitutional committee

Orient Net 2018-12-21 07:46:00

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The UN special envoy for Syria said in his farewell UN briefing Thursday (Dec. 20) that an "an extra mile" is needed to form a committee to draft a new constitution for the conflict-torn country because a list of participants submitted by Russia, Iranian regime and Turkey is unacceptable to the United Nations, AP reported.

Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council that the 50-member list provided by the three countries was unbalanced and dropped experienced experts, so it "needs a further review and revision."

The nearly yearlong effort to form a 150-member constitutional committee, which is key to holding free elections and hopefully ending the seven-year war, has been dogged by objections from the Assad regime over the 50-member list representing experts, independents, tribal leaders and women. There is already agreement on 50-member lists from the Assad regime and opposition.

De Mistura was authorized to put together the third 50-member list representing civil society at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.

But the Assad regime objected to the list that he put together. The foreign ministers of Russia, Iranian regime and Turkey - the guarantor states in the so-called "Astana process" aimed at ending the violence in Syria - handed de Mistura their own agreed 50-member list of civil society representatives at a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday.

"The United Nations, having examined the names, assessed that we would not feel comfortable yet giving the UN stamp of legitimacy to all 50 of them as meeting the necessary criteria of credibility and balance - hence the need for going an extra mile," de Mistura told the Security Council.

He said the list from the Astana guarantors included some names from his list, but experienced experts with excellent credentials "who would also have been natural bridge builders" were dropped.

"No list will be perfect," de Mistura said. "But in our assessment, the list needs a further review and revision."

De Mistura, who is stepping down Dec. 31 after four years and four months as UN envoy, looked back at one of the United Nations' toughest jobs and said that "I believe we have made some difference - but not enough."