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Transcript of Press Remarks by Geir O. Pedersen, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria

27 August 2020

Thank you so much Jenifer and thanks to all of you for your understanding.

Obviously, the safety for all of us here in the Palais has been our major concern and our top priority. That is why we took no chances and immediately suspended the meeting of the Constitutional Committee of the Small Body on Monday.

I’m extremely grateful for the professionalism of the medical advice and the support that we are receiving from the Swiss authorities and from the United Nations Office in Geneva and its medical services.

In light of that advice, we are resuming, today, the Third Session of the Constitutional Committee Small Body, with all the necessary precautions strictly observed – as they were observed in the initial meeting. And thank you for your support, from your side, in observing those strict measures as well.

I should add that, while the secondary testing done in recent days indicates that the earlier positive cases do not pose any risk, we are at this stage proceeding here in the Palais des Nations only with those who have tested negative. This is out of an abundance of caution and based on the advice of the United Nations medical authorities.

I thank the two Co-Chairs and indeed the Constitutional Committee Small Body members for their cooperation during this temporary, but necessary, delay, while we addressed the immediate health issues.

I equally appreciate their strong desire to resume the work of the Constitutional Committee, and I think that is a signal of the importance of this process.

I have also received a strong signal of support from key international players for the United Nations’ facilitation of this Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process, and this is indeed very much appreciated.

We have a clear agenda for this session, and the Small Body had a constructive first meeting on the agenda when they met on Monday. There were some useful points raised and some good interactions.

I believe all members are keen to resume the work and have substantive discussions during the remainder of this session. And so, with full safety precautions in place, after extensive medical advice, we are getting back to work now, today, actually in five minutes.

And after consultations with the two Co-Chairs just now, I believe we most probably will be doing sessions today, tomorrow and on Saturday. I hope to get back to you soon when these things are finalised. But as I said thank you for your cooperation and I hope to talk to you soon.

Geneva, 27 August 2020

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