Why the Constitutional Committee file was absent in the Special Envoy briefing on Syria after the earthquake
On February 28, 2023, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O.Pedersen, gave a new briefing to the UN Security Council. Unusually, Why the Constitutional Committee file was absent in the Special Envoy briefing on Syria after the earthquake
Mr. Pedersen did not mention the Syrian Constitutional Committee within his briefing, unlike all previous ones since the start of the constitutional reform process in late 2019 .
This happened despite the fact that the Constitutional Committee was originally the only file that Pedersen had taken on from his predecessor de Mistura, compared to the many files that Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) calls for implementing them as a basis for a political solution in Syria .
When Pedersen gave his first briefing in February 2019, he identified 5 goals for his mission in Syria, namely: drafting constitutional reform, building confidence in a safe, calm and neutral environment, revealing the fate of detainees, kidnapped and missing persons, improving international dialogue and cooperation, and involving a wide range of Syrians in the political process .
Yet, after 4 years have passed since he assumed his duties, the Special Envoy has not achieved any progress in all of these goals, including the Constitutional Committee itself, which faces an unknown fate since the suspension of its work in June 2022; as a result of the conflict erupted between Russia and the West .
The absence of the Constitutional Committee file in the Special Envoy’s recent briefing actually reflects the absence of the political process in Syria. Although not including this file may be due to the emergency humanitarian situation after the earthquakes that struck regions in Syria and Turkey, and that it is likely to be included in the next briefings, it seems, however, that Pedersen found in the deadly earthquakes an opportunity to set aside unresolved political issues for the purpose of actually launching its own step-by-step policy, given that the present time is more appropriate than ever before, which he clearly mentioned in his last briefing .
This means that the Special Envoy may direct his efforts to create a new international environment, which does not necessarily mean to recognise the regime or accept to normalize relations with it or rehabilitate it in any way. A new international environment as such might aim at containing the repercussions of the natural disaster and the conditions for freezing the conflict. This originally might be to show local governance structures that are alternative to the ones produced by the war. Furthermore, these structures may be able to stop the deterioration in the different areas of control; as such potential structures may be entrusted with the establishment of wide social, economic and service networks, so that later the political process can be resumed .
As a result, the efforts of the UN envoy may face many obstacles, especially since the regime's attitude towards the policy of step-by-step is not only based on rejecting a policy as such, but also on utilising and emptying it of its content. For example, the regime takes advantage of the issue of early recovery to reinforce its own economic policies. Moreover, the regime works on emptying the issue of detainees of its legal content, as well as the issue of refugees in favor of its own security policies.
As for the opposition, on the other hand, the emerging situation may provide them with new opportunities in terms of international relations and the performance of local governance structures, in light of the current international focus on the humanitarian issue and the postponement of work on understandings and consensuses related to the political process .