|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5793rd Meeting (PM)
CHAIR OF PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION GROUP ON BURUNDI, IN BRIEFING,
URGES SECURITY COUNCIL TO MONITOR SITUATION CLOSELY
The Security Council today heard a briefing by Johan L. Løvald ( Norway), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific meetings on Burundi, as it considered the situation in that country.
Mr. Løvald said the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2007/682) on the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) outlined peacebuilding priorities ranging from the security situation and implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, through political development and governance, transitional justice, security sector reform and rule of law, to economic development. The Peacebuilding Commission was particularly concerned about how the various priorities related to each other in the overall peacebuilding effort.
On 28 November, the Council had heard from Charles Nqakula, Facilitator of the Burundi peace process and Minister for Safety and Security of South Africa (see Press Release SC/9180), who had given an update on implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-FNL and the current situation in the country.
Mr. Løvald said the Peacebuilding Commission had voiced support for the Facilitating Process and urged the Council to monitor the situation closely and undertake appropriate action. Given the present challenges facing Burundi, political stability was particularly important. The newly reshuffled Government in Burundi and the end of the parliamentary boycott represented important and positive developments. They were examples of resolving political differences within democratically established institutions.
Since the Council’s last discussion on BINUB’s mandate in May (see Press Release SC/9030 of 30 May), the Peacebuilding Commission had concluded the development of a Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi, he said. Yesterday, it had adopted a Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism for the Framework (document PBC/2/BDI/4), a critical step that laid the foundation for the implementation and review process that the Commission was about to enter (see Press Release PBC/23). The Mechanism had been developed with the Government of Burundi following consultations with key stakeholders on the ground.
While the Burundi configuration had concentrated so far on peacebuilding priorities, there was now a greater focus on how to follow up those priorities, he said. The group was moving away from identification towards implementation. The Secretary-General’s call for the Peacebuilding Commission to place additional emphasis on sustaining international attention to Burundi and facilitating the marshalling of resources for peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts indicated an essential role for the Commission and its members. The continued support of the Council and other major organs of the United Nations remained crucial.
The meeting began at 3:15 p.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting to consider the situation in Burundi, the Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General (document S/2007/682) on the United Nations Integrated Office there, which provides an update on major developments since the previous report (document S/2007/287) of 27 May, highlights the progress achieved and the remaining peace-consolidation challenges, as well as the Secretary-General’s recommended extension of BINUB’s mandate until 31 December 2008.
According to the report, the political situation deteriorated considerably with increased internal divisions within the ruling party, serious setbacks in the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement signed by the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) in September 2006, the continued detention of the ruling party’s former chairman and opposition parties boycotting Parliament. However, the stalemate came to an end with the appointment of a Government of National Unity on 14 November, which includes posts allotted to the opposition.
BINUB remains in close contact with national actors and provides good offices to try to resolve the political crisis, the report states. Meetings with political parties and civil society are organized to encourage broad-based national action for dialogue. Despite some challenges, relations between the Government and the national media continue to improve. However, the peace process suffered serious setbacks, the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement has not been successfully implemented and none of the benchmarks outlined by the Secretary-General have been met. There have also been sporadic armed clashes between the National Defence Forces and Palipehutu-FNL, whose delegation left the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism in July. The following month, some 2,500 alleged dissidents from FNL, dissatisfied with the leadership’s refusal to rejoin the peace process, broke away and requested demobilization or integration into the security forces.
In the meantime, the South African facilitation and the regional technical team met in Pretoria on 26 September, the report continues. Following that meeting, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania set an ultimatum for the FNL leadership based in that country to rejoin the process. The South African Facilitator also established a Bujumbura-based political directorate. On 20 October, the South African facilitation reconvened the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, in which the FNL did not participate, to address the question of the alleged FNL dissidents. Burundi also requested urgent humanitarian support for the alleged FNL dissidents, but, since they were armed, they could not be supported as a humanitarian case. They were also not seen as verified FNL combatants. The South African facilitation has provided them with basic provisions on a temporary basis.
According to the report, the following are the remaining challenges to the consolidation of peace: democratic governance; security sector reform; small arms; human rights; justice sector reform; transitional justice; the humanitarian situation; refugee returns and community recovery; and the economic situation. The Secretary-General observes that the political crisis and institutional paralysis, as well as the blockage in the peace process, underscore the fragility of the situation and the continued need for vigilance.
The Secretary-General notes that the Government’s highest priority should be a successful conclusion to the last phase of the peace process. There is an urgent need for the resumption and early implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, as a prolonged stalemate would have humanitarian and security consequences. The continued support and strong engagement of regional and international partners, including the South African Facilitation and the Regional Peace Initiative, will be crucial for the successful conclusion of the process by 31 December, as stipulated by the African Union.
Noting the persisting peace-consolidation challenges and the critical role of BINUB, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend its mandate for an additional 12 months. BINUB should play a more robust role in support of the peace process between the Government and FNL, in full coordination with regional and international partners. It should also continue to provide political and technical support to help national actors address the root causes of the conflict, prevent a relapse and create an environment conducive to recovery and development.
* *** *