A constitutional process was discussed during some of the different rounds of the intra-Syrian talks in 2016-2018 and also during the consultative mechanisms, which were proposed in May 2017 by the Special Envoy during the sixth round of talks. On January 30th, 2018, Russia convened the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, in the resort city of Sochi. While more than one thousand Syrians participated in the congress, it was largely boycotted by Syrian opposition representatives from the intra-Syrian talks. The participants agreed, as stated in The final statement of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, to form a constitutional committee and they appealed to the United Nations Secretary-General to assign the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, to provide assistance to the Constitutional Committee to work in Geneva. The final agreement on the mandate and terms of reference, powers, rules of procedure, and selection criteria for the composition of the Constitutional Committee was reached in the UN-led Geneva process.
After 19 months, in September, 2019 the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres announced the “Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure for a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva”, known as “the Procedure’s paper”. It was agreed to by the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiation Commission with facilitation by Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen. The mandate of the Constitutional Committee is
- 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 Security Council resolution 2254. The constitutional reform shall, inter alia, embody in the constitution and constitutional practices of Syria the letter and spirit of the Twelve Living Intra-Syrian Essential Principles (aka the Twelve 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.
The Constitutional Committee (CC) is co-chaired by one representative nominated by the Syrian Government and one representative nominated by the Syrian Opposition Commission. The CC is composed of 150 members; 50 members are nominated by the Syrian Government, 50 are nominated by the Syrian Negotiations Commission, and 50 are representatives of Civil Society. Additionally, there is the Small Body which is composed of 45 members (Small Body is part of the Large Body); 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 is responsible for preparing Draft Constitutional Proposals and the Large Body shall discuss and adopt those proposals. Women’s participation in the Constitutional Committee is shown in the following table:
|Small Body||Large Body|
|Delegation||# of women||Total number||# of women||Total number|
|Civil Society delegation||7||15||24||50|
|Syrian Negotiation Commission delegation||2||15||7||50|