Expressing grave concern at reports of a downward spiral of violence in Burundi, the Security Council this afternoon called on the parties to engage in a comprehensive political dialogue aimed at achieving national reconciliation.
In a statement read out on its behalf by Council President Qin Huasun (China), the Council, in light of recent developments, requested the Secretary-General and Member States concerned to urgently facilitate contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Burundi. The Secretary-General was also encouraged to pursue planning for steps that might be taken to support a possible political agreement.
The Council, reiterating its full support for the ongoing efforts of former President Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania to resolve the crisis in Burundi, further called on all parties to make full use of the 22 May meeting in Mwanza to achieve progress towards national reconciliation. It also called upon all the States concerned to cooperate in the convening of a regional conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region.
In addition, the Council reminded all parties of their responsibilities and recalled its readiness to consider the adoption of further measures should the parties fail to demonstrate the political will for a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The meeting, which began at 12:29 p.m., was adjourned at 12:39 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/24, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi dated 3 May 1996 (S/1996/335) submitted pursuant to resolution 1049 (1996).
"The Security Council is gravely concerned at the continued deterioration of the security situation in Burundi, in particular at reports of a downward spiral of violence which has resulted in further large-scale killings in Buhoro and Kivyuka, and at the increasing flow of refugees from Burundi. The Council is deeply concerned that relief organizations have been prevented from delivering vital humanitarian and development assistance in Burundi, and at the suffering which this imposes on the people of Burundi. It calls on the parties and all concerned to refrain from any action that could aggravate the problem of refugees.
"The Security Council strongly condemns any use of violence and emphasizes its conviction that a lasting settlement of the situation in Burundi can only be found through peaceful means. The Council calls on the parties to engage in a comprehensive political dialogue aimed at achieving national reconciliation in Burundi. The Council urges once again the authorities and all parties concerned in Burundi to set aside their differences, renounce the use of force and demonstrate a firm political will for a prompt settlement of the conflict.
"The Security Council stresses the importance of the commencement of the National Debate provided for in the Convention of Government, as an appropriate mechanism for a wide-ranging political dialogue in which all parties to the conflict should participate without any preconditions. The Council reaffirms its support for the convening of the Regional Conference on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region and calls upon all the States concerned to render their cooperation for the convening of the conference.
"The Security Council reiterates its full support for the ongoing efforts of former President Nyerere to facilitate negotiations and political dialogue to resolve the crisis in Burundi and looks forward to a successful outcome of the upcoming meeting in Mwanza, Tanzania on 22 May 1996. The Council calls upon the parties to make full use of the meeting to achieve progress towards national reconciliation. It also supports the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to that end.
"The Council emphasizes the importance of the continued cooperation of the United Nations with the Organization of African Unity, the European Union and other interested countries and organizations in coordination with former
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President Nyerere aimed at achieving the objective of a comprehensive political dialogue between the parties in Burundi. In this regard, the Council expresses its support for the efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its observer mission and calls upon all States to contribute generously to the OAU Peace Fund in order to enable the OAU to increase the size of the mission and to extend its mandate beyond July 1996.
"The Security Council welcomes the endorsement by the Secretary-General of the conclusions of the technical mission providing for United Nations radio broadcasts in Burundi and looks forward to being kept informed by him of progress made in the implementation of their recommendations.
"The Security Council reiterates the importance it attaches to the contingency planning called for in paragraph 13 of resolution 1049 (1996), and notes the consultations which have already taken place. In the light of recent developments, it requests the Secretary-General and Member States concerned to continue to facilitate, as a matter of urgency, contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Burundi. It also encourages the Secretary-General further to pursue planning for steps that might be taken to support a possible political agreement.
"The Security Council reminds all parties of their responsibilities for restoring peace and stability in Burundi, and recalls its readiness, as set out in resolution 1040 (1996), to consider the adoption of further measures should the parties fail to demonstrate the necessary political will for a peaceful solution to the crisis. The Council will remain seized of the matter."
Report of Secretary-General
Before the Council was a report from Secretary-General Boutros Boutros- Ghali reiterating his call for contingency planning for a possible military intervention in Burundi to save lives in the event of large-scale killing of civilians. That intervention would be a humanitarian mission designed to save lives, the Secretary General States. It would not have a political purpose.
In his report (document S/1996/335), the Secretary-General says there has been a marked deterioration in the security situation in the country with persistent reports indicating a downward spiral of violence.
Noting the difficulties in mounting a military intervention, the Secretary-General says if the worst happened, "Member States might find that they had no alternative but to deploy a multinational force authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations". It was therefore "sensible for them to do some preliminary planning". Such
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planning, he says further, did not preclude a similar plan for a United Nations peace-keeping operation under Chapter VI if the Burundian parties reached a political agreement and sought United Nations help in implementing it.
The report says a number of countries have expressed a readiness in principle to consider contributing troops, provided certain conditions were fulfilled. Those included: broad-based participation in a truly multinational force not confined to units from a single region; leadership, both in the planning and in the conduct of the operation, by one or more Member States with the necessary capacity for, and experience of, rapid deployment in such circumstances; and assistance in the fields of finance, equipment and logistic support.
The report was submitted in response to Security Council resolution 1049 (1996) of 5 March in which the Secretary-General was encouraged to continue consultations on contingency planning both for the steps that might be taken to support a comprehensive dialogue and for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the situation in Burundi.
According to the report, while Member States have expressed readiness in principle to consider providing assistance for the intervention, none has yet volunteered to take the lead in planning, deploying and commanding it. In view of the urgency of the need in Burundi, the Secretary-General says he has decided to use his good offices to facilitate consultations among the various Member States that the individually indicated possible interest in contributing to the operation. It was to be understood that planning for such a multinational force was beyond the capacity of the United Nations Secretariat and should, as in the past, be carried out by the Member State or States taking the lead in the operation. Further discreet and confidential consultations were needed.
Seeking the Security Council's support for the endeavour, the Secretary- General says: "It is essential for the international community to demonstrate to all parties in Burundi that it has the political will and the capacity to take timely and effective action to avert another tragedy in the Great Lakes region".
The report describes the security situation in Burundi as continuing to deteriorate, with tension remaining high as Hutu armed bands, led by Leonard Nyangoma, President of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie, intensify their attacks throughout the country. Estimates from the field place the number of displaced persons in Burundi at more than 300,000; 100,000 of whom have been displaced since February according to estimates of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The report refers to the need for
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negotiations to restore peace. It notes the conditions set by Mr. Nyangoma for negotiations, including the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the INTERPOL arrest warrants against him and others. President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya of Burundi has expressed his readiness to talk with Mr. Nyangoma on the condition that his armed bands renounce violence. The Prime Minister, Antoine Nduwayo, on the other hand, still refuses to meet Mr. Nyangoma, whom he accuses of planning a genocide against the Tutsi population.
As far as political dialogue is concerned, the Secretary-General says in the report that all the Member States consulted had expressed their support for the efforts of former President Nyerere. They noted the need for a coordinated political effort and the undesirability of uncoordinated unilateral initiatives. It was also recognized that the United Nations should continue to cooperate with the OAU and with the European Union, which had appointed Aldo Ajello as its Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. On a possible regional conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region, the Secretary-General says his view remains that all interested countries would have to agree to participate in the conference before concrete preparations for its convening could start.
On the question of a possible establishment of a United Nations radio station in Burundi, the report says a technical mission sent to the country in April has concluded that such a project was not a viable option now or in the foreseeable future. A United Nations radio station on the scale required would involve language constraints and risks beyond the control of the Organization that would significantly reduce its chances of success, the report adds.
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