31/05/2005
Press Release
SC/8402


Security Council

5193rd Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN OPERATION IN BURUNDI UNTIL 1 DECEMBER,


UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1602 (2005)

 


Welcoming recent positive achievements by the parties in Burundi, including since the deployment of the United Nations Operation (ONUB) there last June, the Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the Operation until 1 December 2005.


Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1602 (2005), according to which it also looked forward to receiving, by 15 November 2005, the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the role of the United Nations in supporting Burundi, including on the possible adjustment of ONUB’s mandate and force strength, in accordance with progress made on the ground.  Also anticipated by the Council was the Secretary-General’s detailed proposal for the establishment of an international support mechanism during the post-transitional period in Burundi.


By other terms of the text, the Council called upon all Burundian parties to exert greater efforts to ensure success of the Transition, national reconciliation and stability of the country, in particular by refraining from any actions which may affect the cohesion of the process under the Arusha Agreement, which was signed on 28 August 2000.


Among the positive developments in the country, the Council welcomed, in particular, the approval by the Burundian people of the post-transitional Constitution in the referendum of 28 February 2005 and the imminent holding of elections, taking note with satisfaction of the electoral timetable confirmed at the last meeting of Member States of the Regional Initiative for Peace in Burundi on 22 April 2005 in Entebbe.


Other recent events noted by the Council included the declaration signed on 15 May in Dar es Salaam by the President of Burundi, Domitien Ndayizeye, and by the leader of the rebel group of Palipehutu-FNL, Agathon Rwasa, as well as the commitment by both parties to cease hostilities immediately, agree within a month on a permanent ceasefire, and negotiate without disturbing the electoral process.


The Council also welcomed efforts undertaken by the Mission to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the Organization’s code of conduct.  In this regard, the Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action, and urged troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive and disciplinary action to ensure proper investigation and punishment in cases involving their personnel


The meeting began at 4:26 p.m. and was adjourned at 4:28 p.m.


Council Resolution


The full text of resolution 1602 (2005) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling its relevant resolutions on Burundi and in particular resolutions 1545 of 21 May 2004, 1565 of 1 October 2004, 1577 of 1 December 2004 and 1596 of 18 April 2005, as well as the statements of its President, in particular those of 15 August 2004 (S/PRST/2004/30), of 14 March 2005 (S/PRST/2005/13) and of 23 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/19),


Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Burundi, and recalling the importance of the principles of good-neighbourliness and non-interference, and of regional cooperation,


Reaffirming also its full support for the process of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, signed at Arusha on 28 August 2000 (hereafter “the Arusha Agreement”), calling on all the Burundian parties to fully honour their commitments, and assuring them of its determination to support Burundi’s efforts to bring the transition to an end successfully through the holding of free and fair elections,


“Welcoming the positive achievements that have been made so far by the Burundian parties, including since the deployment of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) on 1 June 2004,


“Welcoming in particular the approval by the Burundian people of the post-transitional Constitution in the referendum of 28 February 2005,


“Taking note with satisfaction of the declaration signed on 15 May 2005 in Dar es Salaam by the President of Burundi, Mr. Domitien Ndayizeye, and by the leader of the rebel group of Palipehutu-FNL, Mr. Agathon Rwasa, and taking note in particular of the commitment by both parties to cease hostilities immediately, agree within a month on a permanent ceasefire, and negotiate without disturbing the electoral process,


Urging the international community to take advantage of these positive political developments to increase its assistance forsocial and economic development in Burundi,


“Welcoming the imminent holding of elections as provided for by the Arusha Agreement, taking note with satisfaction of the electoral timetable confirmed at the last meeting of Member States of the Regional Initiative for Peace in Burundi on 22 April 2005 in Entebbe, calling on the Transitional authorities strictly to adhere to this timetable for the holding of each poll, and urging all Burundian parties and candidates to ensure respect for the electoral code of conduct, refrain from any actions that may disrupt the process and accept the result of the elections,


“Encouraging the Transitional Government to continue, with the cooperation of ONUB, to enhance women’s participation in the political process,


Taking note of the progress achieved in the reform of the security sector, as well as in the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants, and stressing the need in this regard to implement without delay a national reintegration strategy in order to further consolidate peace and stability,


“Paying tribute to the efforts of the Member States of the Regional Initiative for Burundi, especially Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Facilitation of South Africa, to support the peace process in Burundi, and encouraging them to continue to assist the efforts of the Burundian parties,


Encouraging also the international donor community to respond to requests from the Government of Burundi to strengthen its national judicial institutions and rule of law capacity,


“Condemning all acts of violence, any threat of the use of force, as well as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and stressing the need for the Burundian authorities to ensure the safety of civilian populations, in particular with regard to women, children and other vulnerable persons,


“Reiterating its strong condemnation of the Gatumba massacre of 13 August 2004, and its commitmentthat perpetrators of such crimes, as well as all persons responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, be brought to justice,


“Considering that bringing an end to the climate of impunity in Burundi, as well as in the Great Lakes of Africa as a whole, is essential for building lasting peace in the region,


“Taking note with satisfaction of the report of the Secretary-General dated 19 May 2005 (S/2005/328),


“Noting that factors of instability remain in Burundi, and determining that the situation in this country continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,


“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,


“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of ONUB until 1 December 2005;


“2.   Calls upon all Burundian parties to exert greater efforts to ensure success of the Transition, national reconciliation and stability of the country in the longer term, in particular by refraining from any actions which may affect the cohesion of the Arusha Agreement process;


“3.   Looks forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations by 15 November 2005 on the role of the United Nations in supporting Burundi, including on the possible adjustment of ONUB’s mandate and force strength, in accordance with progress made on the ground;


“4.   Looks forward also to the submission by the Secretary-General of his detailed proposal, as described in paragraphs 53 and 54 of his report, for the establishment of an international support mechanism during the post-transitional period in Burundi;


“5.   Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep it informed in his reports on the situation in Burundi of actions taken in the fight against impunity;


“6.   Welcomes efforts undertaken by ONUB to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive and disciplinary action to ensure that such acts are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel;


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


Background


Before the Security Council is the fourth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (document S/2005/328), which states that there had been important advances in the peace process in the country during the past year.  However, progress has been slow, resulting in a further extension, until 26 August 2005, of an already extended transition period.  While Burundi is on the path to becoming a stable and peaceful country, that can provide a better future for all its citizens, the process of reform has not yet become irreversible.  Therefore, it will be incumbent on the Burundian parties to demonstrate the political will necessary for the successful conclusion of the transitional process, and to ensure the strictest adherence to the new electoral calendar.


All political parties must exercise restraint in their electoral campaigns and refrain from taking any actions which may affect the cohesion of the transitional process or are prohibited by the electoral code of conduct, states the report.  It is essential that elections are carried out in a peaceful environment that encourages voter participation, and can provide a model for subsequent elections in the country.  Regrettably, political tensions continue to affect the level of trust between the parties.  The international community should play an active role in support of the newly elected government.


The Secretary-General joins the heads of State of the Regional Peace Initiative for Burundi in endorsing the efforts of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to facilitate an agreement with FNL (Rwasa).  The comprehensive ceasefire, espoused by all groups, and long awaited by the Burundian people, will be a concrete sign of the commitment of FNL to joining the peace process.


In the meantime, the Government of Burundi must find a solution to its devastating debt burden, if the country is to enter the reconstruction and development phase in earnest.  The Transitional Government should, therefore, take the necessary steps to assist the elected authorities in that direction.  The alleviation of the debt burden through the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative will allow Burundi to free the necessary resources and to increase the welfare of its population.  Failure to take the necessary measures could force donors to suspend assistance that is essential for ensuring sustainable peace.


Despite progress made, the scope of human rights violations in Burundi remains a serious concern, states the report.  Human rights abuses are frequently perpetrated in the absence of appropriate legal mechanisms, and in a general atmosphere of impunity.  At the core of many of these crimes remains the dangerous undercurrent of ethnic and regional division, which will need to be decisively and persistently addressed in the post-transition period.  Reconciliation will, therefore, remain an essential element of the nation’s difficult path towards national healing and lasting peace.


The ONUB has, since its deployment, contributed in a significant way to the progress achieved in the peace process, and its presence will continue to play a vital role, in particular during the forthcoming electoral period.  Thus, the Secretary-General recommends the extension of the Operation’s mandate at its current strength for an additional period of six months, until 1 December 2005.


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