Press Remarks by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Mr. Geir O. Pedersen on Conclusion of the Second Session of the Constitutional Committee

29 Nov 2019

Press Remarks by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Mr. Geir O. Pedersen on Conclusion of the Second Session of the Constitutional Committee

Hi, good afternoon. We have just concluded the second session of the Constitutional Committee. It was not possible to call for a meeting of the Small Body of 45, because there has not been an agreement on the agenda.

The two Co-Chairs have been speaking to you during the week and explained their different positions, but as you know in the core Rules of Procedure it says that the two Co-Chairs shall proceed in consensus and agree on an agenda, and that was not possible. Of course, discussions on an agenda are not something untypical and disagreement on issues like this is typical for every process.

I have, as you may know, had several rounds of discussions every day with the two Co-Chairs. We have had good discussions, serious, professional discussions, and we have been trying to reach a consensus. But as I said we are not there yet.  I have asked the two Co-Chairs that when they go back to their respective homes that they will continue to work on this, and that I will come back to them very soon. And based on those discussions, hopefully we will be able to conclude on when we will have our next session.

Q: At the outset, I would like to ask you a few days ago you were in the Security Council and there was Ms. Sabah al-Hallak with you, what was the reason for her presence and in what capacity was she there? Secondly, you spoke of national basic principles, so from the national delegation from Damascus with regards to the Turkish occupation. The Turkish occupation, how do you view that, and considering that what’s happening here is an outcome of Sochi?

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you. Listen, when it comes to the issue of the Security Council, of course as you may know, it’s the presidency each month that decides on who is invited or not invited to the Security Council. So, I have no information on this, it was the British who held the presidency, so you should ask the British and see on that.

As you know, and as I also stated in my briefing to the Security Council, we’ve been following the developments in the northeast and we have appealed that the ceasefire understanding that was negotiated between the US and Turkey, and then between Russia and Turkey and that also had the support of the Syrian Government—the Russian/Turkey ceasefire that this will be respected. We are also following with great concern obviously also the situation in the northwest.

But as I said from day number one, it’s very important that we protect the Constitutional Committee and that we continue to work with the spirit that we have managed so far—with a spirit of compromise and a willingness to listen to each other.

And let me also say that I have always emphasised the importance of respecting Syria’s sovereignty, its independence, and its territorial integrity; and that’s a core part of Security Council resolution 2254 and of course also of my mandate.

Q: Mr. Pedersen, I have note on United Nations, we are good journalists in this corner, under storm and rain, my question what about your rule to improve and move these rounds between three (inaudible)?

Mr. Pedersen: What was the question, what is my role?

Q: About your role, yes.

Mr. Pedersen: You know my role is very clearly defined, it is to help to facilitate the process. So that’s what I have been doing. I have been meeting on a daily basis with the two Co-Chairs and trying through that to reach a consensus on how we should move forward. And my job of course, after today will continue and I will continue doing this. And I think the storm you’ve been having in Geneva is nothing compared to where I am from, but anyway that’s fine.

Q: Do you believe you were fair in the way you dealt with the civil society delegation? Some voices did not agree with the fact that you met with some members and not all, especially those coming from Damascus.

Mr. Pedersen: Listen, it’s up to the members of the civil society to decide whether I am fair or not, so I will not judge that. But as I have told all of them I am ready to meet with anyone from the civil society, whoever wants to meet me they are free to come and see me. So please tell them that I am here for them.

Q: Do you have a message for the Astana group that will be meeting so that they can put pressure to bear on what’s happening here?

Mr. Pedersen: Listen, you know, I will focus on what is my task, which is to facilitate the work of the Committee. I will continue doing that and we have emphasised all along the importance that this is a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned process, and I will very much continue to respect that.

Obviously, the Astana three will have a strong interest in following up the development here, and they will also be properly briefed I am sure both by the government and by the SNC, and as I mentioned to you I will also be seeing all three of them.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Geneva, 29 November 2019​