The Syrian Constitutional Committee convened in Geneva for its first session on 4 November. This first session is set to last for a week.
After a week has passed since the start of negotiations on the organisational aspects of the Syrian Constitutional Committee (SCC), the first meeting of the 45-member sub-committee was held on 4 November in Gevena under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).
This sub-committee has been charged with drafting the new constitution, which will be voted upon by the overall SCC. It is made up of 15 figures from the Syrian regime, 15 figures from the Opposition, and 15 members from civil society groups and other such organisations.
“All the constitutional experiences of all countries, especially those that have witnessed conflicts, confirm that the constitutional committees are not only limited to technicians. However, it is represented by politicians, technicians, and linguists because the agreement is political and is drafted within a legal framework. Linguists then formulate it to be understood by the public”, noted Hadi al-Bahra, who is heading the Opposition delegation in the SCC.
There are naturally deep differences and fissures between the various groups taking part in the negotiations. Syria has been experiencing a brutal civil war for the past 8 years, with a multitude of internal and external actors being involved. Those differences came out after the first negotiations.
“After the session was delayed for about an hour or two, we started and found the other party had no clear methodology. Therefore, our discussions led to us changing the course of discussions and agreeing on an agenda. Now we have come out with an agenda for this week”, commented Muhammad Akkam, a member of the government delegation to the SCC.
The process of the SCC has been frequently described as an “all-Syrian” endeavour, where negotiations are only taking place between Syrian actors, without any foreign influence. Nevertheless, there continues to be a breadth of foreign actors on the ground changing the dynamics of the political and military situation in the country, and so neglecting these dynamics would itself be detrimental to the negotiations.
The original agreement to form the SCC was reached in Sochi at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018. The final steps towards the formation of the SCC made by the guarantor power were conducted in recent months.