The first phase of the UN-brokered face-to-face talks between the Syrian Government and opposition began at the UN Office in Geneva on 30 October, with the UN’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, urging both sides, along with a third delegation representing Syrian civil society, to seize the historic opportunity of working together, for the sake of the Syrian people.

The so-called “First Working Session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee Large Body”, aiming to draft a new constitution for the country, was the first in nearly nine years of fighting, and was described as being led in a “dignified and forward-looking manner”.

Pedersen praised the ceremony, calling it “a sign of hope for all Syrians”, and emphasized that the process is led and owned by the Syrians.

He also announced that a smaller group had been agreed upon, made up of 45 members of the Committee, which will begin its first working sessions on 4 November in Geneva.