From peacekeeping to peace consolidation in Burundi

 

The United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) completed its mandate on 31 December 2006, having overseen the first democratic elections in twelve years, the installation of a national Government, and the disarmament and demobilization of nearly 22,000 combatants.As Burundi takes an important step towards lasting peace and stability, the UN has pledged continued support through funding from the Peacebuilding Fund and the establishment on 1 January 2007 of BINUB, a new Integrated Office in the country.

The signing of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in 2000 paved the way for a ceasefire two years later between Burundi’s Hutu and Tutsi population, ending a long-standing ethnic conflict which had ravaged the country. The deployment of Blue Helmets to assume their peacekeeping duties came in 2004 to replace a year-long AU mission in Burundi.

ONUB’s Thai Engineer Company during the contingent’s farewell parade and medal ceremony, Bujumbura, Burundi, 31 October 2006. (UNOB Photo by Mario Rizzolio)

During ONUB’s tenure, at least 2,500 officers from Burundi’s national police force enrolled in a UN police trainingof- trainers programme to strengthen activities in areas such as anti-corruption, anti-terrorism, penitentiary security and border and airport security. Burundian police were assisted by their ONUB colleagues in ensuring adequate security conditions for voters during a total of six elections in 2006, from the communal and local to the legislative and presidential, including a referendum on a new Constitution. In another sign of confidence in Burundi’s police force, a contingent of 39 officers joined the AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan.

The overall security situation improved, in particular, following the signing on 7 September of a Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement by the Government and Palipehutu-FNL, the last remaining armed group in Burundi. However, the slow pace of implementation is a source for concern and the UN supports efforts to quickly address the outstanding issues.

“Burundi has come a long way from its darkest days of conflict but there is still a long way to go,” said Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and former SRSG for Burundi. “It is critical that the international community support the country now as it moves past this fragile post conflict stage towards long term and sustainable development, based on a broad commitment to peace.”

 

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Prepared by the Peace and Security Section, United Nations Department of Public Information.

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