(From The Guardian)
A 50-strong commission representing most strands of Syrian society will draft a new constitution for the country, the UN and Russia have agreed at the end of a peace conference put together by Vladimir Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura faced intense criticism from the Syrian opposition for attending the conference, which the opposition boycotted on the basis that it was an attempt to supplant the UN peace process and marginalise their role in ending Syria’s seven-year civil war.
De Mistura defended his presence, arguing that the Sochi conference statement clearly handed back control of the constitution committee to the UN, both in terms of its composition, selection criteria, mandate and terms of reference. He insisted the Syrian Negotiation Committee (SNC), the official UN-recognised opposition that boycotted Sochi, would have a “very substantial participation”, and the commission would not be confined to those attending Sochi.