April 27, 2019

In Kazakhstan, two-day talks on Syria backed by Iran, Russia and Turkey concluded without any notable progress on forming a constitutional committee to drive a political settlement in Syria.

Syria’s Current Constitution:

  • The current constitution governing Syrian government territory was adopted in 1973, and was revised by referendum in February 2012.

  • Protests began in Syria in 2011 after an uprising in Tunisia forced Tunisia’s dictator into exile and inspired Syrians to rise up against Bashar al-Assad.

  • The Syrian government aimed to appease protesters with a constitutional referendum and other reforms in 2012, but the move drew criticism because it took place in the midst of intensifying government violence against protesters. Also the opposition did not see the reforms.

Syrian Peace process: Convening a Committee

  • The Syrian peace process consists of a series of summits which produced few to no results.

  • They fall into two main categories:
    • the U.N. track of negotiations (the “Geneva format”) and

    • the parallel Russian-sponsored track (the “Astana format”).

  • Geneva format: Kofi Annan’s 2012 Six-Point Plan
    • The U.N. negotiations date are organized around the principles of then-U.N. Syria Envoy Kofi Annan’s 2012 “Six-Point Plan.”

    • It called for government and rebel forces to stand down immediately, for the appointment of a U.N. interlocutor to resolve the Syrian opposition’s grievances, and to ensure that Syrian citizens could protest peacefully.

    • The U.N. Security Council has reaffirmed the priorities of the six-point plan in UNSCR 2254, which continues to guide U.N. Syria policy.

  • Astana Format:
    • In January 2017, Russia convened its own series of peace talks with Turkish and Iranian support in Astana as an alternative to the U.N.-led process.

    • Russia attempted to advance the Astana agenda for a final compromise between Syrian opposition demands and Assad regime priorities at a January 2018 summit in Sochi.

    • The plan agreed to at Sochi became the basis for moving ahead on the constitutional matter.