19 January 2000


Press Release
SC/6787



SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESSES STRONG SUPPORT FOR PEACE EFFORTS IN BURUNDI, FOLLOWING BRIEFING BY ‘FACILITATOR’ OF PEACE PROCESS, NELSON MANDELA

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Adopts Resolution 1286 (2000) Unanimously; Secretary-General Warns Council of ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’

Following a briefing by former South African President Nelson Mandela on the situation in Burundi, the Security Council this morning warmly endorsed his designation as the new Facilitator of the peace process there by the Eighth Arusha Regional Summit on 1 December 1999 and expressed its strong support for his efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.

By the terms of resolution 1286 (2000), which was adopted unanimously, the Council reiterated its strong support for the renewed Arusha peace process and called on all parties to the conflict in Burundi to fully cooperate with the new Facilitator -- a successor to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere -- and to build an internal political partnership in the country. Endorsing efforts by the Secretary-General to enhance the role of the United Nations in Burundi, the Council also commended those Burundian parties, including the Government, which had demonstrated their commitment to continued negotiations.

Appealing for increased international assistance for the Arusha peace process and for humanitarian and human rights help, the Council further condemned continuing violence perpetrated by all parties, as well as attacks against civilians and United Nations personnel. It called for all parties to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need and called upon neighbour States to ensure the neutrality, security and civilian character of refugee camps.

When he addressed the Council, Mr. Mandela said that the real challenge facing Burundians was that of creating a form of democracy that would provide for an accountable and responsive government and ensure security for the vulnerable. The population of Burundi was being held hostage to violence from all sides in the conflict. As a result, new waves of refugees were fleeing the country and people were becoming increasingly displaced in their own country.

He said that the peace process must be inclusive. To those outside of the process, the message would be sent to formulate their political aspirations and demonstrate their readiness to come to the negotiating table in good faith and in full respect for the guiding principles of the process. The primary responsibility for ending the humanitarian crisis in the country lay with the Burundian leaders. Informing the Council about his intention to visit Arusha in February, Mr. Mandela


Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6787 4091st Meeting (AM) 19 January 2000

also invited some other heads of State to join him, saying that the effectiveness of the messages delivered to the various protagonists in Burundi could only be reinforced by their participation.

Prior to Mr. Mandela’s briefing, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Council that no party could escape its share of responsibility for the escalating violence, or for the lack of progress towards a political solution. He strongly urged all parties to the conflict to cooperate with Mr. Mandela in seeking such a solution. If they did seek such a solution, he remained hopeful that this time the international community would assist them. In no other country was it so easy to imagine a repetition of what the international community had sworn must never be repeated: ethnic killing on a genocidal scale. He warned that the country was on the verge of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

The Minister for External Affairs and Cooperation of Burundi, Severin Ntahomvukiye, said however, that there were neither massacres nor a widespread national catastrophe in his country. The Government had taken special measures and had established sites for the protection of people, called regroupment camps. Rejecting statements that those camps were part of a policy ethnic cleansing, he said that such allegations constituted propaganda and misinformation. All the Government was doing was ensuring security and simply preventing people from being crushed.

Also speaking this morning were representatives of Mali, Tunisia, Canada, Argentina, France, China, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Namibia, Ukraine, Malaysia, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Russian Federation and the United States.

The meeting of the Council, which started at 10:45 a.m., ended at 12:45 p.m. The meeting was briefly suspended from 11:47 to noon.


Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to hold an open briefing on the situation in Burundi.

Draft Resolution

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/2000/29) which reads, as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Reaffirming its previous resolutions and statements by its President on the situation in Burundi,

“Expressing concern at the dire economic, humanitarian and social conditions in Burundi,

“Expressing deep concern at the ongoing violence and insecurity in Burundi marked by increased attacks by armed groups on the civilian population in and around the capital,

“Noting with concern the implications of the situation in Burundi for the region, as well as the consequences for Burundi of continued regional instability,

“Recognizing the important role of the States of the region, in particular Tanzania, which is host to hundreds of thousands of Burundian refugees and home to the Julius Nyerere Foundation, which has provided outstanding support to the talks,

“Noting that the United Nations agencies, regional and non-governmental organizations, in cooperation with host Governments, are making use of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (E/CN.4/1998/53 and Add.1-2), inter alia, in Africa,

“Welcoming the human rights programme undertaken by the United Nations and the cooperation afforded to it by the Government of Burundi and political parties in Burundi,

“Reaffirming that the renewed Arusha peace process represents the most viable basis for a resolution of the conflict together with the continued efforts to build an internal political partnership in Burundi,

“1. Warmly endorses and strongly supports the designation by the Eighth Arusha Regional Summit on 1 December 1999 of Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, as the new Facilitator of the Arusha peace process, successor to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, expresses its strongest support for his efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict in Burundi, and welcomes the successful meeting in Arusha on 16 January 2000 launching his initiative;

“2. Reiterates its strong support for the renewed Arusha peace process, endorses the call at the Eighth Arusha Regional Summit for all parties to the conflict in Burundi to extend maximum cooperation to the new peace process Facilitator, and calls for increased efforts to build an internal political partnership in Burundi;

“3. Endorses efforts by the Secretary-General to enhance the role of the United Nations in Burundi, and in particular the continued work of his Special Representative for the Great Lakes region;

“4. Commends those Burundian parties, including the Government, that have demonstrated their commitment to continue negotiations, and calls on all parties that remain outside the Arusha peace process to cease hostilities and to participate fully in that process;

“5. Expresses appreciation for international donor support, and appeals for increased assistance for the Arusha peace process;

“6. Condemns continuing violence perpetrated by all parties, and in particular by those non-State actors who refuse to participate in the Arusha peace process, and strongly urges all parties to end the ongoing armed conflict and to resolve their differences peacefully;

“7. Condemns attacks against civilians in Burundi, and calls for an immediate end to these criminal acts;

“8. Strongly condemns the murder of United Nations Children's Fund and World Food Programme personnel and Burundian civilians in Rutana province in October 1999, and urges that the perpetrators be effectively brought to justice;

“9. Calls for all parties to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Burundi, and to guarantee fully the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel;

“10. Calls for the immediate, full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian workers and human rights observers to all regroupment camps, and calls for internees to have access to their livelihoods outside these camps; “11. Encourages further progress between the United Nations and the Government of Burundi and political parties in Burundi in establishing appropriate security guarantees for United Nations humanitarian agencies to resume field operations;

“12. Calls upon neighbouring States, where appropriate, to take measures to halt cross-border insurgent activity, and the illicit flow of arms and ammunition, and to ensure the neutrality, security, and civilian character of refugee camps;

“13. Calls for donors to provide humanitarian and human rights assistance to Burundi and to resume substantial economic and development assistance with due regard to security conditions;

“14. Urges the international community to examine the economic development needs of Burundi with a view to establishing stable long-term conditions for the well-being of the Burundian people and for the return of refugees;

“15. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Statements

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that of all the many crises and conflicts confronting Africa today, perhaps none was more urgent than the conflict in Burundi. Certainly in no other country was it so easy to imagine a repetition of what the international community had sworn must never be repeated: ethnic killing on a genocidal scale. Some progress had been achieved in the four commissions in Arusha, and through consultations in Dar es Salaam, yet serious disagreements remained on some key issues, such as the future composition of the army, the electoral system and the transition period. Others, such as guarantees for the minority community and the question of reconciliation versus impunity, had yet to be seriously addressed.

Everybody was acutely aware of the unstable and volatile regional context in which the drama was taking place, he continued. That dimension would be discussed in more detail next week, when the Council would consider the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The situation in Burundi was not only affected by the events in neighbouring countries, but also had the potential to further destabilize the region, especially if violence continued to escalate, prompting more of the population to flee across the borders. For all those reasons, he heartily welcomed the involvement of President Mandela and placed great hopes in his ability to revive the peace process.

The United Nations Secretariat was determined to give whatever help it could, and he was sure the Council would wish to do the same, he continued. The appalling humanitarian consequences of the present political stalemate would, in themselves, provide sufficient reason to do so. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians had died over the past 10 years; the number of Burundian refugees had now reached 500,000, and was growing by the day. Twelve per cent of the country’s population were internally displaced, many of them as a result of a deliberate government policy of forcibly relocating civilians, in circumstances where it could not be justified under international humanitarian law. Since September alone, over 300,000 innocent men, women and children in the region surrounding Bujumbura had been herded into camps, where they were deprived not only of their freedom, but of the most elementary means of subsistence.

The humanitarian impact of that policy had been disastrous, he said. Thousands were now in special feeding programmes, and more were entering every day. Many sites were inaccessible by vehicle, which made the delivery of assistance very difficult. The country was on the verge of another humanitarian catastrophe, for which the Government of Burundi would undoubtedly be held responsible. Two days ago, the Government of Burundi had announced its intention to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate the health conditions prevailing in the camps, and to start dismantling those in the province of Bujumbura Rural within two weeks. He welcomed that announcement, but urged the authorities to go further and abandon its inhumane and illegal policy altogether. As long as the camps existed, the Government must allow independent humanitarian agencies full access to them and ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.

No party in Burundi should assume that the justice of its cause was as obvious to the rest of the world as they may think, he said. And certainly no party should assume that outsiders would come to rescue it from the consequences of its own folly and intransigence. Neither side can escape its share of responsibility for the escalating violence, or for the lack of progress towards a political solution. He strongly urged all parties to cooperate with Mr. Mandela in seeking a political solution. If they did, he remained hopeful that this time the international community would assist them.

He said that help could not be confined to the diplomatic sphere; it must also have an economic dimension. While humanitarian aid had continued to flow to Burundi, other forms of international support had been interrupted since mid-1996. Once donors were convinced that there was a serious effort by the Burundian parties to find a political compromise, they too should be prepared to make an effort. With help, they could lay the foundations of a tolerant, democratic political order, in which all ethnic and social groups could find their place. And that, in turn, would be a major contribution to peace and security throughout the region.

Addressing Mr. Mandela, RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States), President of the Council, said that one of the great moments in history had come when Mr. Mandela had emerged from prison. He was confident that history would rank Mr. Mandela with Ghandi and Martin Luther King. He was a symbol to so many people around the world. He had accepted one of the most difficult jobs, without losing interest in other important issues. Today, from his first appearance before the United Nations Security Council, members of the Council were hoping to learn how they could assist him.

NELSON MANDELA, former President of South Africa and facilitator of the Burundi peace process, said in spite of the difficulties faced in Burundi, a lot of progress had already been made since the start of negotiations. In the past 18 months, the Arusha peace process had seen the establishment of four committees, each targeting particular aspects of the negotiations. Those committees had achieved significant progress and two of them, the one dealing with the nature of the conflict and the issue of genocide, and the other dealing with reconstruction and development, had nearly completed their work.

The major outstanding issues of those two committees, he continued, were the appropriate mechanism of dealing with the past, and agreeing on the question of the recovery of property by returning refugees. The question of amnesty was still problematic and complex given the history of Burundi. By the same token, it was one of the crucial matters to be tackled if permanent peace was to be established. The other committees were those dealing with, on the one hand, democracy and good governance and, on the other, peace and security for all. Those committees had also made significant progress, but continued to confront some major issues on which the Burundians must agree.

Most of the parties agreed on the principle of universal franchise. but differences remained on whether the parliament should be balanced in ethnic, gender or other terms. The real challenge facing Burundians was that of creating a form of democracy that provided for accountable and responsive government and ensured security for those, who, for reasons of demography, felt vulnerable within such a system. The parties had failed to agree on a programme of reform for the present security forces or on the issue of the integration of armed group into the security forces.

One of the most important issues impacting upon the Burundian situation and the negotiation process was that of violence, he said. Over the past year, and in the last few months in particular, there had been an intensification of that activity, including attacks on the civilian population. The population of Burundi had become hostage to violence from all sides in the conflict. As a result, new waves of refugees were fleeing the country and people were becoming increasingly displaced in their own country. Burundians faced the task of demilitarizing their society in the medium term and embarking on the formidable task of development and reconstruction. The Government had a particular responsibility to defend and protect the civilian population and not just a given part of it.

He said that for the peace process to be successful it must be inclusive. To those outside of the process, the message would be sent to start formulating their political aspirations in coherent terms and demonstrate the capability to come to the negotiating table in good faith and in full respect for the guiding principles of the process. There was also a need for a stronger link between the peace process and the reality of political life in Burundi. Common sense dictated that if an agreement signed in Arusha were not acceptable to public opinion in Burundi, it could not be successfully implemented. Political leaders needed to do groundwork at the grass-roots level to persuade their constituencies that the price of agreement, and lasting peace, would be concession and compromise on certain major issues.

He said the Burundian peace process needed the support of the international community to sustain the actual negotiations and the ongoing efforts to achieve peace. That community could also help to alleviate the suffering of the Burundian people through the provision of humanitarian aid. However, the primary responsibility for ending the humanitarian crisis in the country lay with the leaders. They must create the conditions to enable their people to return to their homes and resume normal economic life.

He said the recent visit to Arusha would be followed up by a more extended one in February. He wished to invite some other heads of State from different parts of the world to that meting. The effectiveness the messages delivered to the various protagonists in Burundi could only be reinforced by the participation of other heads of State. He concluded by restating his confidence that there was sufficient capacity among the leaders of Burundi to reach compromises and agreements that could lead to peace and stability in the country.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said the situation in Burundi was clearly difficult. The resumed attacks against civilians and humanitarian personnel exacerbated the situation. The numbers of refugees and displaced persons were growing, and Mali was greatly disturbed by the developments.

Reactivating the Arusha peace process represented the greatest hope for achieving peace, he said. The Eighth Arusha Regional Summit had appointed President Mandela as the new facilitator of the Burundi peace process. Also, the commitment of the international community was of great importance. Today’s draft resolution was to be seen from that standpoint. In conclusion, he assured President Mandela of his country’s unwavering support for his efforts.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said that President Mandela’s participation was a reason for great optimism. The stalemate in negotiations would lead to additional violence. At present, the Arusha process was entering a decisive stage, and negotiations were of the greatest importance. Halting violence and fighting was essential. Providing humanitarian and economic assistance would alleviate the suffering of the people.

All the parties in Burundi must prove that they were seeking a political solution. He hoped the talks would lead to a peace agreement acceptable to all parties. Such an agreement would lay the foundation for the transitional period, leading to national reconciliation. The peace process required time and commitment on the part of the parties. The role of the international community and the United Nations in particular was very important. He hoped that the political will of the parties would be reinforced by President Mandela’s participation.

It was also necessary to think about dealing with the problems of the region in a larger context, he continued, and to work seriously to bring an end to the conflict in Burundi. Today’s draft resolution would help to do just that.

JOSEPH CARON (Canada) said his country had contributed $1.275 million to the Burundi peace process. He reiterated that the renewed peace process was the most viable means of achieving a durable peace and for the resumption of long-term sustainable development in the country. His Government condemned the continued violence against the civilian population perpetrated by all parties, as well as the attacks on humanitarian workers. The Council must urge all parties to the conflict in Burundi to cease such attacks and must also insist that all perpetrators of human rights and humanitarian law violations be held accountable for their actions. He urged the Council to call on all parties to the conflict to ensure that safe and unhindered access to affected populations was given and to fully guarantee the safety, security and freedom of personnel, including locally engaged staff. Those parties should also ensure that refugees were protected, respected and allowed to return voluntarily and in safety to their homes. He also condemned the policy of forced displacement of the population into regroupment camps, where access by humanitarian personnel was restricted. That was a violation of human rights of Burundians. He called for the dismantling of such camps, and, in the interim, for full and unconditional access to those camps by humanitarian workers and human rights observers.

ARNOLDO MANUEL LISTRE (Argentina) said the solution to Burundi should embrace the reasonable aspirations of the majority, while giving legitimate rights to the interests of the minority. Indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations by armed groups deserved condemnation. He called upon the Government of Burundi to give full access to humanitarian personnel and human rights monitors. He also warned of the danger of political space being taken over by extremists at the expense of moderate Tutsis and Hutus. All parties should heed, with good faith, the advice and proposals provided by President Mandela.

He said the socio-economic system in the country was suffering, due to the growing climate of tension. Burundi had not recuperated from the impact of the markets it lost due to the embargo. Development assistance must be renewed. In addition, the flexible provision of economic assistance would strengthen the Arusha peace process. The question of Burundi could not be detached from the regional context. The problems affecting the Great Lakes region were not exclusively political. He suggested the holding of a general conference on that region, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the situation was indeed very serious and tragic. However, it could change with the presence of President Mandela, whose generous spirit and tireless efforts were giving him hope. It was essential to include all the Burundian parties in the peace process. He also welcomed President Mandela’s intention to go to Burundi. France was helping to finance the Burundi peace process, and it was interested in the successful outcome of the peace process.

Continuing, he deplored the violations of human rights in Burundi and the resumption of violence. He was also disturbed by the forced regroupment of civilians, which should be immediately halted. The intention of the Government of Burundi to dismantle the displaced persons camps was commendable, and he urged it to do more. It was necessary to break the vicious cycle and promote democratization of the country.

Turning to the situation in the region, he said that the implementation of the Lusaka agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hand in hand with the Arusha process. To promote regional security, an international peace conference on the situation in the Great Lakes region should be envisaged.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) welcomed the chance to consult with President Mandela to find a solution for the situation in Burundi. Many views and proposals by President Mandela merited attention. However, the situation in Burundi ultimately depended on the people of the country and the parties to the conflict. A political settlement through negotiations was the only means of finding a durable solution.

Continuing, he appealed to the factions to proceed from the fundamental interests of the people and to participate in the peace process. The leaders of the parties to the conflict had the responsibility in that regard. He also noted that without a fundamental elimination of poverty it was hard to achieve peace and stability. Therefore, the international community should intensify its economic assistance to Burundi.

Peace and stability in Burundi were inseparable from the situation in the region as a whole, he continued. The international community must commit itself to resolving the situation in the Great Lakes region, and he supported convening an international conference on that issue.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the Security Council had been “scratching its head” on the issue of Burundi. The Government of that country had not been listening to anyone. Mr. Mandela’s input would encourage a sense of ownership of the final peace package. As the Secretary-General noted, “we are on the verge of another humanitarian catastrophe”. The international community could not afford that. It had to be insisted that all the parties to the conflict: respect the human rights of Burundians; abide by humanitarian law; and provide access to the United Nations and others humanitarian agencies. He also condemned the regroupment camps and hoped Mr. Mandela would use his influence to ensure that those affected by the crisis could return to their homes.

He said that the political process in Burundi had not really been discussed today. Key issues in that regard were the position of the army, the electoral process and the transition from the present situation to one of stability. The appointment of President Mandela must create the momentum for a change of perceptions and the strengthening of links between the political process and the facts of life. Now was time for the people of Burundi to rise to the challenge of resolving their differences. The country must be righted not only for the people, but for the entire region.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her country supported the Arusha peace process and hoped that the upcoming talks would reinvigorate actions towards peace in Burundi and the region as a whole. Jamaica was concerned about the ongoing violence and insecurity in Burundi. At the same time, the fact that regional events also impacted and exacerbated the complex situation in Burundi could not be ignored. That must compel the international community to act decisively and quickly to resolve the crisis.

She stressed that there could be no viable military solution to the conflict in Burundi. The international community also owed a debt of gratitude to the governments of the region, which housed the refugees from the conflict in Burundi. She expressed deep concern at the recent murders of United Nations staff members in the country. What was needed was a comprehensive and holistic strategy to address the crisis in the Great Lakes region. The long-term economic needs of Burundi must be tackled, with the support of the international community, as part of the peace process.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the situation in Burundi was at a critical juncture, with violence against civilians perpetrated by all sides to the conflict. The policy of forced regroupment was not the answer to the violence that afflicted the county. Rather, it brought further division among the population, escalated the cycle of violence and exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Burundi. In that light, he reiterated the call on the Burundian authorities to cease the policy of regroupment and create conditions conducive to the safe return of civilians to their homes.

The Arusha peace process was the best viable option for finding lasting peace in Burundi, he continued. Participation of all Burundian parties in the process was of paramount importance. Only the people of Burundi with the assistance of the international community could bring true and lasting peace to that war-torn country. He, therefore, called for continued assistance to the peace process.

President Mandela had taken over from another gallant and respected son of Africa, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, he continued. Who better than President Mandela could help reinvigorate the Burundi peace process? he asked. He was familiar with the tragic politics of exclusion, because he came from a country where, in the past, the majority had been trampled upon by the minority regime. He also came from a background where ethnic division was used by the minority regime to sustain themselves in power. In conclusion, he reiterated his support for the efforts of President Mandela and wished him success.

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that his country admired the unrivalled international prestige and outstanding diplomatic skills of Mr. Mandela and warmly welcomed his designation as the new facilitator of the Arusha peace process. The enormous complexity of the tasks that he was expected to accomplish in his endeavour should not be underestimated. However, there was no doubt that he would address them with all his extraordinary energy and dedication.

His country shared the assessment that the current situation in Burundi was really critical and required urgent action on the part of the international community, he continued. The support of the Council for the recent invigoration of the Arusha process was a vivid manifestation of its commitment to peace in Burundi and in the entire region. The Secretary-General should be encouraged in his efforts to enhance the role of the United Nations in Burundi.

Providing the urgent relief assistance to those in need was yet another major task at this particular juncture, he said. His country called on all Burundian parties to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance and to guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian staff. The primary responsibility for the success of the peace process in Burundi lay with the people of that country. In that connection, he had been greatly encouraged by the responsible stance of those Burundian parties that had chosen to negotiate their differences. Ukraine joined the appeal to all other parties in Burundi to cease hostilities and commit themselves to a political dialogue.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said his country strongly supported the peace process and believed that no party should be excluded from the talks. Those parties outside of the process, however, must not use their non-participation as a precept to not cease hostilities. Attacks against civilians should be condemned. The United Nations and other humanitarian personnel should be given unhindered access to the regroupment camps. It was also imperative that they were afforded security guarantees, as well. He was concerned that further human displacements would have serious ramifications for peace and security in the Great Lakes region.

He said economic prosperity in Burundi was being threatened by the conflict. The situation required development and economic infusion. However, the final responsibility for ending the conflict lay with the people of Burundi, particularly the leaders. He urged forthright support for President Mandela. The parties must seek to rebuild a new nation under a constitution that was capable or responding to the needs of Burundi’s people.

PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said his country did not consider the involuntary resettlement of rural populations an acceptable way to address the fragile security situation in Burundi. It did believe, however, that Burundi had the right to be safeguarded from cross-border attacks by armed insurgents. His country had decided to contribute another $250,000 to the Arusha peace process.

He said, following a rather gloomy year as far as progress in the peace process was concerned, it was greatly enhanced by the appointment of Mr. Mandela as the facilitator. The former President of South Africa personified everything that was new in Africa and, as such, he seemed more qualified than anyone else to convince the Burundian delegation to accept the invitation he issued to them in Arusha to join the modern world.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that President Mandela could inspire peace in the entire region. He extended support to the Arusha peace process and fully endorsed the outlines for peace in Burundi outlined by President Mandela in his statement. The presence of the representative of Burundi at today’s meeting was also important. The parties involved in the conflict had to persevere in seeking a negotiated settlement and to commit themselves to the peace process. For the negotiations to be successful, the Government of Burundi had to demonstrate its commitment to the peace process. It had to ensure full and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to the country, as well as their safety.

The need for contingency preparations on behalf of the United Nations had been emphasized in the past, he continued. The tragedy of Burundi, to a large extent, lay in its socio-economic situation. It was in that field that the United Nations should be prepared to respond, when the time came.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) welcomed the appointment of President Mandela as the facilitator and expressed hope that his participation would bring about the conclusion of the peaceful settlement in Burundi. Such a settlement should be achieved through negotiations, and he called on all the parties to refrain from the use of force, which could jeopardize the Arusha peace process. His country was also concerned over the continued forced displacement of civilians into camps. The tense situation in Burundi required the adoption of measures to stimulate the negotiations with the participation of all the political parties in the country. Efforts should be intensified to achieve the goals of peace on the national and subregional levels. However, the ultimate responsibility for the settlement of the conflict lay upon the people of Burundi themselves. The Russian Federation would also encourage increased interactions between the United Nations and the regional actors, based on the measures outlined by Mr. Mandela, who should become a key figure in the negotiations.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States), speaking as his country’s representative, said what his country sought in Burundi was what was sought for all of the African conflicts –- a peace based on national reconciliation. The United States supported President Mandela's call to pursue an inclusive peace process in Burundi. For peace to be lasting and just, the negotiations in Arusha must address the concerns of all parties. His country condemned the regroupment camps in Bujumbura and elsewhere, and was concerned about the harsh conditions for the some 350,000 Burundians who were forced to live in them.

He said many of those camps lacked water, medical care, basic sanitation and adequate shelter. "We understand the complexities of the conflict, and have heard the justifications for the regroupment policy”, he said. “But this complexity does not absolve the Government of Burundi from its basic responsibilities under international law.” The United States urged the Government to take the necessary steps to alleviate that untenable position. It must permit humanitarian workers to have immediate, full and unconditional access to regroupment camps. It must also adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons. His country also condemned attacks on innocent civilians, who had bee victimized by armed belligerents. The culture of impunity in Burundi must come to an end and those who had committed such crimes brought to justice.

He said the international community must support the Arusha peace process and today's resolution was an important start. The United States was prepared to do its part and was prepared to offer $500,000 to help facilitate the peace process.

SEVERIN NTAHOMVUKIYE, Minister of External Affairs and Cooperation of Burundi, said compared to 1995 and 1996, the security situation in his country had improved and overall everything was under control. There was no widespread national catastrophe or massacres. The Government had taken special measures and had established sites for the protection of people, called regroupment camps. The province of Bujumbura had become a testing ground for destabilization forces, in what could be called the "Somaliazation" of the country. There, genocide had taken place as national security forces lost control of the area. His Government rejected allegations that the regroupment camps were part of a policy of ethnic cleansing. That was propaganda and misinformation. All the Government was doing was ensuring security and preventing national danger. It was simply preventing people from being crushed.

He said 10 out of the 50 camps would be soon be closed in the presence of monitors and, gradually, all of the camps would be dismantled. The camp around the capital would be the last to be closed. Contrary to information being circulated, all of the camps were open to observers and humanitarian workers. There was no restriction imposed and protection was also provided. His Government welcomed President's Mandela’s involvement in the peace process and had every trust in the new mediator, who could help bring his country back into the mainstream of international solidarity.

He said the needlessly prolonged pressure on his country because of the embargo could lead to an explosion. The peace and development link was more necessary now than ever. In addition, he said the statements about the absence of any security in Burundi were groundless accusations. Seventy-five per cent of the country had security.

Action

The draft resolution was unanimously adopted by a vote of 15 in favour to none against, with no abstentions, as resolution 1286 (2000).

Closing Remarks

Expressing satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting, Mr. ANNAN said that it had demonstrated the preparedness of the United Nations to work with President Mandela and the parties in Burundi to resolve the situation. The Organization owed it to the people of Burundi, the region and the African continent, as a whole.

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