Middle East/North Africa

UN envoy says Syria, opposition agree to draft new constitution

Syria's government and opposition have agreed to begin the process of drafting a new constitution, according to United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

The drafting committee, which is made up of 45 members of Syria's government, opposition, and civil society, has a mandate to create a new legal framework for  U.N.-supervised elections.

Pedersen, a veteran Norwegian diplomat, said on Sunday that the committee's Syrian co-chairs have agreed to "prepare and start drafting constitutional reform."

This is the sixth round of talks between the sides since 2019 and the first talks since January for the drafting committee, according to Reuters. 

"Since then close to nine months I have been negotiating between the parties, trying to be able to establish a consensus on how we are going to move forward. And I am very pleased to say that we have reached such a consensus," Pederson told reporters. 

This comes in the aftermath of a decade-long war that started with an uprising against al-Assad's rule and spiraled into the world's biggest refugee crisis as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crushed his opponents with Russian support. 

Some 5.6 million refugees fled into countries neighboring Syria while various European countries took in more than 1 million, Reuters reported.