Regular Press Briefing by the Information Service, 1 November 2019: Syrian Constitutional Committee and situation in Syria

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Syrian Constitutional Committee and situation in Syria

Jenifer Fenton, for the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, read the following statement:

“Following Wednesday’s historic opening ceremony, the 150 members of the Syrian Constitutional Committee participated in its first working session Thursday, under the co-chairmanship of two co-chairs from the Government and the Opposition, and with the facilitation of the United Nations.

Yesterday, dozens of Committee members gave opening statements on constitutional visions and suggestions for consideration by the drafting body.

The Constitutional Committee will be at the UN and will continue its deliberations today.”

Asked whether there was a time limit for the Committee to complete its work, Ms. Fenton said the Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, had encouraged Committee members to be patient and persistent, and to engage constructively to fulfil the important mandate that had been entrusted to them. Once the 45 members of the so-called "small group" had been decided, the information would be relayed to journalists. The Special Envoy had made every effort to speak to the media and had given interviews to a wide range of outlets. However, he was not able to accommodate every interview request. She would pass on a request from a journalist for a press conference with the Special Envoy and the two co-chairs of the Committee.

Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said the Secretary-General had spoken yesterday at the start of the sixth Istanbul Mediation Conference and said that mediation was one of our most important tools to reduce and end conflict. He said the tragedy in Syria was a clear illustration of the importance of political solutions to conflict, adding that Wednesday’s first meeting of the Constitutional Committee was a landmark, but also “in itself a clear success of mediation”. The Secretary‑General hoped this would be the first step towards a political solution to end this tragic chapter in the lives of the Syrian people and create the opportunity for all Syrians to return to their places of origin, in safety and in dignity, to end their status as refugees.

The Secretary-General had added that mediation could not wait for a military stalemate or a request for help. Rather, he said, “There is a need for mediation at all stages of the peace continuum, from prevention to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development, including between parties to protracted conflicts.””

Asked to respond to reports that three health professionals had been executed by pro-Turkish armed groups near the town of Suluk in north-east Syria, Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said he was not aware of the reports and was thus not in a position to comment at that time.