The United Nations continues to assist the East African country of Burundi in its state-building efforts following a 13-year civil war. Reconciliation, equitable economic growth and effective institutions are among the core objectives of the assistance provided by the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB).
BNUB backs dialogue between the Government and the extra-parliamentary opposition, and helps the Government of Burundi to professionalize its security forces. Working with the civil society, BNUB promotes the respect of human rights and prepares for the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms. The Government has pledged to establish a truth and reconciliation commission by 2012.
New mission with a lighter presence
BNUB, headed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Karin Landgren, was established on 1 January 2011, succeeding the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB). Following the successful completion of elections in 2010, the Security Council called in its resolution 1959 for the establishment of a new mission with a lighter presence on the ground.
Progress since the end of civil war in the 1990s
Despite ongoing difficulties, Burundi has taken important strides forward since the war in which ethnic violence between Hutus and Tutsis ravaged the country in the 1990s. Peace accords signed in Arusha, Tanzania in 2000 envisioned a new constitution with an alternating presidency and ethnically balanced institutions designed to blunt the potential for conflict.
A first set of democratic elections came off successfully in 2005 under the watchful presence of BINUB’s blue helmets. Subsequent cease-fires have brought remaining rebel groups into the political process despite flare-ups.
With UN support, five elections were conducted peacefully during 2010, from the communal to the national level. One result was a record representation of women in public office -- over a third of elected officials and almost half of the government ministers.
Burundi, and the UN, in transition - DPA E-News, February 2012