On November 21, 2017, several Syrian human rights organizations received official invitations to attend the Civil Society Support Room (CSSR) meetings in Geneva on November 28-30, after the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, called for the convening of the next two rounds of the Geneva peace talks on Syria. The invitation also stated that the CSSR’s meetings will focus on the issue of constitutional reform and issues concerning the detainees, abductees and missing persons, as well as refugees and displaced persons.
The signatory organizations to this statement thank the Special Envoy for his invitation. And based on prior experiences with the Civil Society Support Room meetings, would like to point out the following:
1. The results of the discussions that took place during previous CSSR meetings were not fully reflected in the periodic briefings of the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, to the United Nation’s Security Council. In addition, the organisations have a growing sense of a lack of seriousness necessary in dealing with the discussions of Civil Society Support Room and its outputs.
2. The topics of the meetings of the Civil Society Support Room are chosen in a manner that is not systematic. This process lacks a specific methodology that follows up on, builds upon, deepens and addresses previous discussions. In addition, the invitations are not based on clear work programs for the meetings, but rather on general titles for the different issues. Disregarding detailed discussion points threatens to impact these important issues and isolate them from their content. Continuing to discuss these issues at a general level leads to dealing with form rather than substance.
3. There has been no prior consultation with the organizations to develop the topics and frameworks for discussions. Invitations are sent a few days before the meeting to the concerned organizations, leaving no room for any prior preparation that would be necessary for benefiting and enriching the discussions.
4. Points of contacts with organizations who send invitations to organizations and institutions do not have sufficient knowledge or information about the nature of the topics of discussion for which the invitations are sent. They are unable, therefore, to provide clarifications or answer the questions of those invited from the Syrian organizations.