Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) mandates the United Nations to facilitate a Syrian-led political process, that, inter alia, sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, pursuant to which free and fair elections under United Nations supervision, and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate, shall take place.
Pursuant to this resolution and in the discharge of his mandate, the UN Special Envoy for Syria facilitated the establishment of the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee. The Constitutional Committee is founded on an agreement between the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission on a package agreement on the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, which was announced by the UN Secretary-General on 23 September 2019. In his statement, the Secretary-General said: “I strongly believe that the launch of the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee can and must be the beginning of the political path out of the tragedy towards a solution, in line with resolution 2254, that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and is based on a strong commitment to the country’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.”
The Constitutional Committee shall, within the context of the UN-facilitated Geneva process, prepare and draft for popular approval a constitutional reform, as a contribution to the political settlement in Syria and the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015). The constitutional reform shall embody in the constitution and constitutional practices of Syria the letter and spirit of the 12 Living Intra-Syrian Essential Principles. The Constitutional Committee may review the 2012 constitution including in the context of other Syrian constitutional experiences and amend the current constitution or draft a new constitution.
Composition and Structure
The Constitutional Committee has a Large and a Small Body: the Large Body comprises 150 men and women - 50 nominated by the Government, 50 nominated by the Syrian Negotiations Commission, and 50 representatives of civil society. The Small Body comprises 45 men and women - 15 nominated by the Government from among its 50, 15 nominated by the Syrian Negotiations Commission from among its 50, and 15 from among the 50 representatives of civil society. The Small Body shall prepare and draft the constitutional proposals and the large body shall adopt them. The large body may be convened, in parallel or periodically as the work of the small body proceeds, to discuss and adopt proposals. As called for forcefully by the Special Envoy, almost 30 percent of members of both the large and small bodies are women.
There is a strong commitment with the parties and international stakeholders to guarantee that members of the Constitutional Committee and their relatives are not subjected to threat or harassment related to their work in the Constitutional Committee, and to resolve any such incidences should they occur.
The Constitutional Committee has balanced chairing arrangements with two Co-Chairs – one nominated by the Government of Syria and one nominated by the Syrian Negotiations Commission. Co-Chairs proceed in consensus in chairing the large and small bodies and exert the prerogatives necessary for ensuring the observance of the rules of procedure and the good functioning of the Constitutional Committee.
The Special Envoy facilitates the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee’s work, including by supporting the Co-Chairs to reach consensus and by bringing closer viewpoints among the members through exerting his good offices when needed.
The agreement to launch the Constitutional Committee represents the first concrete Syrian-led and -owned political agreement furthering the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015). It commits nominees of the government and opposition to sit face-to-face, with civil society at the table.
“The Constitutional Committee can and must be the beginning of the political path out of the tragedy toward a solution in line with resolution 2254 (2015) that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and is based on a strong commitment to the country’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. The Constitutional Committee’s launch and work must be accompanied by concrete actions to build trust and confidence as my Special Envoy discharges his mandate to facilitate a broader political process forward,” noted the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in his announcement on 23 September 2019.
The Constitutional Committee was launched on 30 October 2019 in Geneva. At their first convening, members of the Large Body adopted by consensus a Code of Conduct and Initial Procedural Practices of the Co-Chairs of the Constitutional Committee.