Amid continuing violence and a persistent political impasse in Burundi, the Security Council requested today that the Secretary-General present options for the deployment of a United Nations police contribution to monitor the security situation, promote respect for human rights, and advance the rule of law in the country.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2279 (2016), the Council urged the Government of Burundi and all other parties concerned to reject any kind of violence and condemn any public statement inciting hatred, demanding that they refrain from actions that threatened the country’s peace and stability. It further urged the Government to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all and adhere to the rule of law, strongly condemning all violations and abuses of human rights.
While welcoming the Government’s steps to withdraw media bans, cancel arrest warrants and release detainees, the Council urged it to fulfil its remaining commitments. It also urged the Government, and all other stakeholders committed to a peaceful solution, to cooperate fully with the East African Community-led, African Union-endorsed mediator and facilitator for an inclusive and genuine intra-Burundian dialogue. The Council called upon other States in the region to contribute to a solution to the crisis and refrain from supporting the activities of armed movements.
By further terms, the Council requested that the Secretary-General support the intra-Burundian dialogue through the good offices of his Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention, and that he enhance the Organization’s engagement in Burundi by strengthening the Special Adviser’s team.
The meeting began at 7:06 p.m. and ended at 7:47 p.m.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), speaking before the vote, described the draft resolution’s five main objectives. The first was to support African efforts to facilitate emergence from the crisis in Burundi. In doing so, the Council would help to forge a genuine and inclusive dialogue among Burundians. Second, the text would help to bolster the United Nations presence in the country and strengthen the Special Adviser’s team. “We need the United Nations to be more present on the ground,” he said, adding that the Council should be able to follow the situation closely. The draft resolution’s fourth objective was to request that the Secretary-General present options for a strengthened United Nations presence in Burundi within 15 days. Finally, the text aimed to preserve and consolidate the gains of the Arusha Agreement, and the Council must do everything it could to help Burundians resume their journey along the path to peace, he stressed.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the resolution was based in part on the efforts of many international and regional partners over the last month. It was an important step forward that would bolster the efforts of the United Nations and regional partners to find a political solution to the crisis. Through the African Union and the East African Community’s initiatives to launch a serious and inclusive dialogue, a great deal of progress had been made to address the challenges facing the country, he noted.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal) said the resolution followed a number of initiatives undertaken by the United Nations since the beginning of 2016, and demonstrated the Organization’s continued interest in the Burundi situation. The resolution should serve as a formal framework for bringing a wide range of efforts into harmony to address that situation. The international community must take into account the main results attained by the high-level African Union delegation and strengthen regional involvement in seeking a solution, he said, stressing the necessity to configure the United Nations response so as to meet all challenges facing Burundi.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom) said that, by adopting the resolution, the Council had sent a clear and united message that the Government of Burundi must live up to its responsibilities. Among other things, it must agree to a timetable and a list of participants in genuine and inclusive talks. Expressing support for the strengthening of the Special Adviser’s team, he noted, nonetheless, that President Pierre Nkurunziza work alongside the United Nations.
TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) said the United Nations should work with the African Union and the East African Community (EAC) to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. “We must stop violence and human rights violations in Burundi,” he said, emphasizing that it was the Council’s responsibility to stop further deterioration of the situation on the ground. Today’s action was an important first step, and Japan looked forward to considering the options to be presented by the Secretary-General, he said.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) said the Security Council had been able to adopt the resolution because there was a fundamental objective agreed by all parties, which included ending the violence in Burundi and returning to a path of inclusive dialogue that respected the Constitution and involved all actors seeking a peaceful solution. The resolution would help to bring peace, stability and prosperity to Burundi’s people.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the text’s adoption was the next important step towards stabilizing the situation in Burundi. The message to the Government was clear: it must protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people. Ukraine welcomed the active role of the African Union and the East African Community in the mediation efforts, he said. Mindful of the leading role of regional countries in seeking a lasting situation to the crisis, the international community must increase its pressure on the Government to lay out a precise and concrete schedule for elections, he stressed. The contribution of a police force would bolster the ability of the United Nations to monitor the country’s security and human rights situation.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States), describing the situation in Burundi as “beyond fragile”, said that, among other challenges, human rights violations and impunity continued, and almost a quarter of a million Burundians had fled over the past year. Against that backdrop, progress would only be measured by peace, which would only come about from genuine and inclusive political dialogue, he said, noting that real discussions had not commenced to date. Through the text, the Council had endorsed the East African Community-mediated dialogue, and urged all stakeholders to expedite its resumption. It had urged the Government to deliver in reality that to which it had committed in the press. Furthermore, the text sent a strong message to both the Government and the opposition to stop the violence, refrain from provocation and commit to dialogue.
LIU JIEYI (China), Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that political dialogue was the “only way out” for Burundi. China encouraged the parties to resolve their differences peacefully, he said, noting that his country had long supported African solutions to African issues in an African way. The unanimous adoption of the text signified the international community’s strong support for the East African Community-led mediation, he said, adding that, in implementing the resolution, it was to be hoped that the parties concerned would respect Burundi’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi) acknowledged that, despite progress on the ground, violations of human rights still occurred “here and there”. The Government had established a judicial commission of inquiry to look into them, while also making the fight against impunity a key issue. Furthermore, the Government had cooperated “very closely” with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and had offered the same level of cooperation to visiting United Nations human rights experts.
Emphasizing that Burundi had a very good tradition of respect for freedom of expression and civil society, he recalled that the Government had recently authorized the reopening of two private radio stations that had gone off air following the attempted coup. The Government was also firmly committed to the intra-Burundian dialogue, which was meant to be an inclusive exchange with the country’s young men and women who were determined to find peaceful solutions to disputes. Consultations were ongoing to reach agreement on two important points regarding who should participate in the next dialogue and what the agenda should be, he said.
Turning to security, he said the general situation was good and most citizens were able to carry out their daily activities in a largely peaceful environment. The Government condemned the use of force to reach political objectives, regardless of its origins, he said, emphasizing that no ideology could justify violence that took the lives of the country’s women and children. The disarmament process, launched in a spirt of transparency, had resulted in approval for the deployment of 100 human rights observers, as well as 100 unarmed military observers, he said. The Government was ready to welcome the observers, although their arrival had been delayed due to administrative issues.
With respect to cooperation with the United Nations, Burundi remained committed to full cooperation with the country team and the Secretary-General’s representative, he stressed. However, nearly all those involved opposed the deployment of an armed international presence in the country, in favour of an unarmed presence and human rights observers. Burundi welcomed the portion of the resolution that called upon States in the region to contribute to a peaceful resolution, and hoped neighbouring countries would stop facilitating the recruitment and training of forces that committed acts of aggression inside its borders, he said.
The full text of resolution 2279 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions as well as the statements of its President on Burundi, in particular its resolution 2248 (2015) and the statements of 18 February 2015 (S/PRST/2015/6), of 26 June 2015 (S/PRST/2015/13), of 28 October 2015 (S/PRST/2015/18), and its press statement of 19 December 2015,
“Reiterating its deep concern about the persistence of violence in Burundi, as well as the persisting political impasse in the country and the attendant serious humanitarian consequences,
“Stressing that the situation prevailing in Burundi has the potential to seriously undermine the significant gains achieved through the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 28 August 2000, with devastating consequences for Burundi and the region as a whole,
“Stressing the primary responsibility of the Government of Burundi for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its population with respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, as applicable,
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Burundi,
“Strongly condemning all violations and abuses of human rights in Burundi, whoever perpetrates them, including those involving extra-judicial killings, sexual violence in the context of the political crisis, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, harassment and intimidation of civil society organizations and journalists, and restriction of fundamental freedoms, as well as indiscriminate use of grenade attacks, especially against civilians,
“Noting reports of a decrease of killings while expressing concern over reports of increased disappearances and acts of torture,
“Underscoring its deep concern for the continued worsening of the humanitarian situation, marked by more than 250,000 Burundians seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and commending the host countries for their efforts,
“Strongly condemning all public statements, coming from in or outside of the country, that incite violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society,
“Noting that a number of bilateral and multilateral partners have suspended their financial and technical assistance to the Government of Burundi, considering the situation in Burundi and encouraging bilateral and multilateral partners and the Government of Burundi to continue their dialogue with a view to creating conducive conditions for the resumption of the assistance,
“Recalling that Burundi is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and has obligations to fight impunity for crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the Court, and emphasizing that the International Criminal Court is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions,
“Noting with satisfaction the cooperation and access to some political prisoners provided by the Burundian authorities to the independent experts of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on the ground,
“Stressing the utmost importance of respecting the letter and the spirit of the Arusha Agreement which has helped to sustain a decade of peace in Burundi,
“Stressing the urgency of convening a genuine and inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, based on the respect of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement, in coordination with the Government of Burundi and all stakeholders committed to a peaceful solution, both who are in Burundi and those outside the country, in order to find a consensual and nationally owned solution to the current crisis,
“Welcoming the letter dated 24 January 2016 from the President of the Republic of Burundi (S/2016/76) expressing his Government’s intention to cooperate closely with the United Nations team under the responsibility of the Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, on determining appropriate support for an inclusive dialogue process and in the areas of disarmament, security and human rights,
“Commending the Secretary-General’s visit to Burundi on 22 and 23 February 2016, and taking note of the commitments made by the Government of Burundi on this occasion,
“Reiterating its support to the mediation efforts led by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on behalf of the East African Community (EAC) and as endorsed by the African Union (AU), commending the decision made by the EAC at the seventeenth Summit of the EAC Heads of State of 2 March 2016 to appoint a team under Mr Benjamin William Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, to facilitate the mediation,
“Welcoming the visit to Burundi, on 25 and 26 February 2016, by the African Union High-Level Delegation, and noting with satisfaction the readiness of the members of this Delegation to pursue their efforts, in support of the mediation efforts led by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, on behalf of the EAC,
“Recalling the importance of close coordination between the region and relevant international facilitators,
“1. Urges the Government of Burundi and all parties to reject any kind of violence and condemn any public statement inciting violence or hatred and demands that all sides in Burundi refrain from any action that would threaten peace and stability in the country;
“2. Urges the Government of Burundi to respect, protect and guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in line with the country’s international obligations, to adhere to the rule of law, to bring to justice and hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights, as applicable, including sexual violence and violations against children;
“3. Takes note of the visit to Burundi from 1 to 8 March 2016 of the experts’ mission requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution of 17 December 2015, and urges the Government of Burundi to continue to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the fulfilment of the mission’s mandate;
“4. Welcomes the steps made by the Government of Burundi to withdraw some media bans, cancel some arrest warrants and release a significant number of detainees, and urges the Government of Burundi to urgently fulfil the remaining commitments announced by the Government of Burundi on 23 February 2016 and to extend such measures to other media outlets and political detainees;
“5. Urges the Government of Burundi and all stakeholders committed to a peaceful solution, both those who are in Burundi and those outside the country, to extend full cooperation to the EAC-led, AU-endorsed Mediator and his Facilitator in order to urgently agree on a timetable and on a list of participants of an inclusive and genuine inter-Burundian dialogue and highlights the importance of the decision by the AU Peace and Security Council to hold such dialogue outside Burundi, in a venue to be determined by the Mediation;
“6. Welcomes the consent of the Burundian authorities to increase to 200 the number of human rights observers (100) and military experts (100) of the AU, calls for their full and speedy deployment in Burundi, notes that 30 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed so far, and urges the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to provide them with full cooperation in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate;
“7. Requests the Secretary-General, through the good offices of his Special Adviser for conflict prevention, including in Burundi, Mr. Jamal Benomar, to support the inter-Burundian dialogue as referred to in paragraph 5 above, and in this regard, to coordinate and work with the EAC-led, AU-endorsed Mediator and his Facilitator, as well as with the high-level delegation from the AU, and to provide technical and substantive support to the Mediation;
“8. Calls on States in the region to contribute to a solution to the crisis in Burundi, and to refrain from supporting the activities of armed movements in any way, and recalls in this regard commitments of the States in the region under the Framework Agreement on the Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region and the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees;
“9. Expresses its intention to consider measures against all actors, inside and outside Burundi, whose actions and statements contribute to the perpetuation of violence and impede the search for a peaceful solution;
“10. Requests the Secretary-General to enhance the United Nations engagement in Burundi through strengthening the team of the Special Adviser for conflict prevention, including in Burundi, in order to work with the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to support the inter-Burundian dialogue, as referred to in paragraph 5 above, and in the areas of security and rule of law, and, in this regard, further requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Government of Burundi and in coordination with the AU, to present, as soon as possible and no later than 15 days from the date of adoption of this resolution, options for the deployment of a United Nations police contribution to increase the United Nations capacity to monitor the security situation, promote the respect of human rights and advance rule of law, in compliance with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;
“11. Reaffirms the importance of United Nations and AU contingency planning, consistent with its resolution 2248 (2015), to enable the international community to respond to any further deterioration of the situation;
“12. Requests the Secretary-general to report to the Security Council regularly after the adoption of this resolution on the situation in Burundi;
“13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”