SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY NELSON MANDELA, FACILITATOR OF ARUSHA PEACE PROCESS; ADOPTS PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT CONDEMNING ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS

29 September 2000
SC/6927

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY NELSON MANDELA, FACILITATOR OF ARUSHA PEACE PROCESS; ADOPTS PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT CONDEMNING ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS

29 September 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6927

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY NELSON MANDELA, FACILITATOR OF ARUSHA PEACE PROCESS; ADOPTS PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT CONDEMNING ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS

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Council Also Addressed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan

There could be no justification for continued violent attacks on the civilian population in Burundi when a comprehensive political agreement had been reached and the way opened for all to bring their concerns to the political table, Nelson Mandela, Facilitator of the Arusha peace process, said this morning in a briefing to the Security Council.

Mr. Mandela, the former President of South Africa, called on the rebel groups in Burundi to demonstrate the quality of their leadership, announce a ceasefire and halt the slaughter of innocents. He said serious political commentators had stated that the leaders were not genuine leaders, but agents of external forces that wished to exterminate the Tutsi community, wherever they were. No genuine leadership of Burundi -- the Hutus or the Tutsis -- could continue to slaughter innocents when the political parties had reached a breakthrough.

He expressed concern that if the armed groups on the ground were not included in the peace process, there was no guarantee that issues agreed to by the 19 political parties would be followed by the rebels. Those factions must be part and parcel of the agreement. There had, however, been a number of fruitful discussions with the leadership of the rebel forces, and he had received a commitment from them to find a lasting peace.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, also addressing the Council, said that, thanks to the work of the Mr. Mandela, the peace process had moved significantly forward. The Arusha Peace Accord was a comprehensive blueprint for the reform of Burundian society, and the United Nations was ready and willing to contribute to the efforts of the Facilitator to overcome the remaining obstacles.

Following the Secretary-General’s statement and the briefing by President Mandela, the Council condemned all attacks on civilian populations in Burundi. In a statement read out by its President, Moctar Ouane (Mali), the Council expressed its concern at the continuing level of violence in Burundi, in particular, that perpetrated by rebel groups despite the call to them for direct negotiations with the Burundian Government.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6927 4201st Meeting (AM) 29 September 2000

The Council stressed that the key to achieving a lasting peace in Burundi lay with the Burundian parties and that compromise was the only means to reach such an agreement. To that end, the Council urged all parties to resolve remaining differences and to proceed with the implementation of the Arusha Peace Accord. It also urged the regional States to continue to use their influence to draw the armed groups into the peace process.

Concerned at the dire economic, humanitarian and social conditions in Burundi, the Council called on all parties to cooperate fully with non- governmental organizations and international organizations. It urged all concerned to ensure that former camp inhabitants were protected, respected and enabled to return voluntarily and in safety and dignity to their homes.

The Council requested the Secretary-General to urgently report on specific actions the United Nations could undertake in the consolidation of peace and economic recovery in Burundi.

At the beginning of today's meeting, the Council observed a moment of silence in memory of the late Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada.

The meeting began at 10:29 a.m. and adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/2000/29, reads as follows:

“The Security Council expresses its warm appreciation to former President Nelson Mandela, in his capacity as Facilitator of the Arusha peace process in Burundi, for his briefing to the Security Council on 29 September 20000. It commends him for his tireless efforts in the cause of peace in Burundi, and encourages him to continue his efforts.

“The Security Council welcomes the signature on 28 August 2000 of the Arusha Peace Accord, as well as the signature added to that Accord at a regional summit held on 20 September 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya. It commends those Burundian parties, including the Government of Burundi, which have demonstrated their commitment to continued negotiations.

“The Security Council stresses that the key to achieving a lasting peace in Burundi lies with the Burundian parties. It is convinced that compromise is the only means to reach such agreement, and to this end urges all parties to work towards resolving remaining differences over the peace accord, and to proceed to its implementation.

“The Security Council reiterates its call, in resolution 1286 (2000) of 19 January 2000, on all parties that remain outside the peace process to cease hostilities and to participate fully in that process. In this regard, it supports the call of the Facilitator to the rebel groups to clarify their positions by 20 October 2000.

Security Council - 1b - Press Release SC/6927 4201st Meeting (AM) 29 September 2000

“The Security Council is encouraged by the engagement of regional States. It urges them to continue their efforts, especially to use their influence to draw the armed groups firmly into the peace process.

“The Security Council condemns all attacks on civilian populations. It remains deeply concerned at the continuing levels of violence in Burundi, in particular that perpetrated by rebel groups, despite the call made to them for direct negotiations with the Burundian Government to secure a lasting ceasefire agreement.

“The Security Council remains deeply concerned at the dire economic, humanitarian and social conditions in Burundi and calls on all parties to cooperate fully with non-governmental organizations and international organizations involved in the implementation of the agreement. It urges all concerned to ensure that former camp inhabitants are protected, respected and enabled to return voluntarily and in safety and dignity to their home.

“The Security Council notes the holding of a meeting of donor countries in Brussels on 15 September 2000. It welcomes the call made at that meeting for progressive resumption of assistance to Burundi, including through development aid, to alleviate its urgent humanitarian and economic problems as it makes progress in its internal peace negotiations. In this regard, it also welcomes the plan to hold a donor conference in Paris in due course.

“The Security Council stands ready to consider practical ways in which it can best support the peace process. To this end, the Council requests the Secretary-General urgently to report to it on specific actions the United Nations can undertake in the consolidation of peace and economic recovery in Burundi.

“The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter.”

Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6927 4201st Meeting (AM) 29 September 2000

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Burundi.

Statement by Secretary-General

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that thanks to the work of Nelson Mandela the peace process had moved forward significantly. The Arusha Agreement of 28 August, followed by the agreement on 20 September in Nairobi on the participation of the remaining three parties, were important milestones on Burundi’s long and painful road to peace.

The Arusha Agreement was a comprehensive blueprint for the reform of Burundian society, he said. It addressed the root causes of the conflict, such as exclusion and genocide and the tragic consequences of the war. The Facilitator was devoting his time and effort to overcome the remaining obstacles. The United Nations was ready and willing to contribute to the success of those efforts —- for the sake of the Burundi people, but also for the stability and prosperity of a troubled region. They could find inspiration in a successful peace process in Burundi for the negotiated settlement of its wider conflicts.

Statement by Facilitator of Arusha Peace Process

Nelson Mandela, Facilitator of the Arusha peace process in Burundi and former President of South Africa, said the support received from the Security Council by way of resolutions and general expressions of encouragement was inspiring and had allowed him to take on the daunting challenge of following in the footsteps of the late Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania. He could do so with the knowledge that "our world body" and the international community took a serious and direct interest in the quest for peace in Burundi.

He said one of the most promising features of the peace process would always be that so many heads of government and State gave time and energy to participate in the plenary session in Arusha. That must have sent a powerful message that the leaders of the region and the larger African continent cared about peace in the world. Burundi was also a signal that the neglect of Africa was being turned around.

He said international participation had convinced Burundian leaders that peace in the country was not an internal matter in which they could take their time. The physical presence of other leaders forcibly demonstrated that the quest for peace in Burundi was part of a global search where conflict was resolved through compromise. He then paid tribute to the political leadership of Burundi.

In January, he said, it had been reported that there were leaders of quality in the country who were committed to ending the carnage and suffering of that beautiful country. Today he was proud to report that that faith had not been misplaced. At the end of the day, an agreement of significant proportions had been reached for the future of Burundi. The Arusha Peace Accord had been signed on 28 August in the presence of an impressive array of leaders. The Council needed to congratulate the Burundian leaders for their courageous steps to establish peace in the country, he said. He detailed the professional qualifications of the leaders of the parties to the negotiations and stressed that he was confident of their integrity and honesty in honouring the agreements they had undertaken.

He was supremely confident that, whatever the problems were that lay ahead, there would be a solid peace and stability in Burundi. There was still a lot of detail and implementation that the parties would wish to pursue and which they should resolve among themselves. The political parties now represented a united forum that could engage with the remaining issues that were not yet part of the process. Numerous areas of agreement could be cited as examples of how the Burundian leadership had practised compromise, particularly on the crucial and sensitive issue of the Burundi National Defence Force. Both Hutus and Tutsis had agreed that the Force would be 50 per cent Hutu and 50 per cent Tutsi. It had also been agreed that a body of respected and independent persons would oversee the Force.

He said the political agreement reached was obviously not the main and comprehensive peace agreement, since some of the major rebel groups were still outside of the peace process. The major focus now was on engaging those forces in the political agreement. His concern was that if the armed groups on the ground were not included, there was no guarantee that issues agreed to by the 19 political parties would be followed by the rebels on the ground. Those rebel groups must be part and parcel of the agreement, he stressed. There had been numerous fruitful discussions with the leadership of the rebel forces. He had received a commitment from them to find a lasting peace.

He said there could be no justification for continued violent attacks on the civilian population, when a comprehensive political agreement had been reached and the way opened for all to bring their concerns to the political table. He called on the rebel groups to demonstrate the quality of their leadership, announce a ceasefire and halt the slaughter of innocents such as women, children and the disabled.

He said serious political commentators had stated that the leaders were not genuine leaders but agents of external forces that wished to exterminate the Tutsi community, wherever they were. No genuine leadership of Burundi, the Hutus or the Tutsis, could continue to slaughter innocents when the political parties had in fact reached a breakthrough.

He said those who had not joined the other leaders in Arusha were providing their detractors with ammunition, and undermining his confidence in their integrity. He urged those factions to stop slaughtering innocents. He had confidence that, in due course, they would be influenced.

The armed groups were also saying that the regroupment camps had not been dismantled on 1 July as promised by President Buyoya, he said. The representatives of the Secretary-General and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had assured him that all the camps had been dismantled. The problem lay with the inmates themselves; some of them refused to leave the camps because of

the security situation inside the country. They were afraid that if they went out they would also be slaughtered; they, therefore, preferred to remain in the camps.

He said the agreement reached in Arusha now needed to be explained to the people. Their understanding and concerns had to be assured. A situation needed to be speedily arrived at where the leaders of the signatory parties could all return to Burundi to play their part in that process. The agreement would bind the 19 political parties and the facilitation team as far as the people Burundi were concerned.

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For information media. Not an official record.