Expressing concern about continuing violence and a persistent political impasse in Burundi, the Security Council requested today that the Secretary-General establish a police officers component in the country for one year to monitor the security situation and to support Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Adopting resolution 2303 (2016) by 11 votes in favour to none against with 4 abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Venezuela), the Council authorized a ceiling of 228 United Nations individual police officers for the component, to be deployed in Bujumbura and throughout Burundi.
The Council strongly urged the Government and all parties to cease and reject violence, and condemned any public statement inciting hatred. It demanded that all sides refrain from any action that would threaten peace and stability or undermine the inter-Burundian dialogue.
By other terms, the Council urged the Government to respect and guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in line with their international obligations. While welcoming steps taken to withdraw media bans, cancel arrest warrants and release detainees, it urged the Government to fulfil its remaining commitments.
The Council further urged all stakeholders to cooperate fully with the East African Community-led, African Union-endorsed mediator and facilitator for an inclusive and genuine inter-Burundian dialogue.
It also requested that the Secretary-General strengthen the Office of the Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention by substantially increasing the number of political officers in Burundi.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of France described the adoption as an important step towards restoring lasting peace in Burundi. In preparation of the text, Council members focused on supporting an inter-Burundian dialogue, while reiterating that the peace process must be based on the Arusha Peace Agreement. Also drawing attention to the Rwanda genocide, he said “the Security Council has learned from its past experiences”.
Expressing concern that Burundi’s past could be repeating itself, the representative of the United States said that while the police contingent mandated by the resolution would put eyes and ears on the ground, it would not protect civilians. It was unfortunate that the Council was unable to unite around even such a modest resolution, raising serious questions about its willingness to act to prevent atrocities.
The representative of Angola said that the establishment of a United Nations police force in Burundi must be done in consultation with the Government, and the resolution should make a contribution to urgently needed political dialogue. While his country had made good faith proposals aimed at achieving a widely accepted compromise, it was unfortunate that such proposals had not been sufficiently taken into account.
Echoing that sentiment, Egypt’s representative said his delegation had abstained in the vote as there had been a “selective approach” with regard to the police component. The current situation could have a negative impact on the country and the region, he said, stressing that the text did not fully represent the views of the Council.
Also speaking today were the representatives of China, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Spain, Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, Ukraine, New Zealand, Russian Federation and Japan.
The meeting began at 5:21 p.m. and ended at 6:15 p.m.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), speaking after the vote, said the adoption was an important step towards restoring lasting peace in Burundi. During negotiations, Council members had focused on supporting an inter-Burundian dialogue, while reiterating that the peace process must be based on the Arusha Peace Agreement. Expressing deep concern about persistent violence and the political impasse in Burundi, he said 70 young people had been arrested last month for drawing caricatures. “We can never forget the Rwanda genocide,” he said, adding: “The Security Council has learned from its past experiences.”
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) underscored the importance of the Council’s active role, in close conjunction with the African Union and other regional partners, to support Burundi in its efforts to achieve peace. His delegation had worked to preserve the unity of the Council on the matter in order to send a strong message, he said, stressing the need for all such decisions to also enjoy the support of the Burundian Government. Egypt had abstained in the vote as it felt there had been a “selective approach” with regard to the police component, and over concerns that the current situation could have a negative impact on the country and the region. Indeed, the current resolution did not sufficiently take those concerns into account and it did not fully represent the views of the Council.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said his delegation had abstained in the vote, underscoring the importance of the African Union’s active engagement and the consent of the Burundian Government. In that regard, the establishment of a United Nations police force in the country must be done in consultation with the Government, and the resolution should make a contribution to urgently needed political dialogue. During the negotiations, in a joint effort with other Council members, Angola had made good faith proposals aimed at achieving a widely accepted compromise. Unfortunately, such proposals had not been sufficiently taken into account. Stressing that the Council must have a clear and united message on the question of Burundi, he expressed regret that such clarity had not prevailed, in particular with regard to the deployment of the police contingent.
LIU JIEYI (China) urged all Burundian parties to participate actively in the peace dialogue. Expressing support for the mediation efforts of the United Nations, the African Union and the East African Community, he said the deployment of police officers must be carried out in consultation with the concerned country. The resolution made no reference to the principle of sovereignty, he noted.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), emphasizing the need to avoid the escalation of tensions in Burundi, said that reliable sources such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had condemned the increasing violence in Burundi, and the deployment of police could alleviate the extremely vulnerable situation.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom), welcoming the adoption of the resolution, regretted that not every Council member had been able to support the text. A united Council would have sent a clear message to the Burundian Government to accept the police contingent, he said, adding that the 15-member body had a clear duty to act as there was a real potential for a spiral to violence. The contingent, working with partners on the ground, could help reduce that volatility and create an environment conducive to political dialogue. Today’s resolution was just a starting point, he stressed, underscoring the need for the Council to insist on its full deployment. The Government must commit to, and participate in good faith, in a genuine political dialogue, and the Council could not let up in its calls for such dialogue.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) noted that “we have not been able to help Burundians build solid and stable peace”, nor had the Council been able to show unity on the matter. Nevertheless, the body had been capable of adopting today’s important resolution, which sent a message to Burundi that it must continue dialogue, protect civilians and end human rights violations. Noting that the text conveyed a message of increasing coordination and coherence among the various peace efforts under way, he added that it issued a clear call to the region’s leaders to become more involved in efforts to resolve the crisis in Burundi.
SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said the Burundi peace process must be guided by the Arusha Peace Agreement. Recalling that the Security Council had been blamed in the past for not acting quickly enough to respond to crises, she called upon Council members not to ignore developments on the ground. “Genuine political dialogue is the only way to solve problems,” she emphasized. Malaysia commended the important work carried out by regional organizations as they continued their mediation efforts to restore stability.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said that the resolution did not reflect one important factor: the Government’s consent. The Council was not fulfilling its mandate properly, he said, cautioning that the text’s language might undermine the peace process. Calling attention to the inconsistencies in Council actions with respect to certain States, he emphasized that the Government must be consulted in relation to the police deployment.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal) supported the resolution’s adoption, noting that it had expressed the Council’s full support for the inter-Burundian dialogue. The international community must work to ensure that the worst did not occur in Burundi, he said, calling on the Council and its partners to ensure that the parties engaged in dialogue.
SAMANTHA POWER (United States) expressed her delegation’s profound concern over the situation in Burundi, pointing to worrying signs that the country’s brutal past could be repeating itself. Absent action and international pressure, the situation could worsen further. Outlining a number of actions that the United Nations had taken on the matter, including the establishment of an office in the country and the opening of a Human Rights Council investigation, she expressed regret that none of the steps that Burundi’s President had agreed to had been acted upon. Further recalling a number of delays on the part of the Burundian Government in allowing the deployment of African Union observers, she said that today had been an opportunity for the Council to reaffirm that it would not accept such tactics. Condemning all violence in Burundi, she said that, while the police contingent mandated by today’s resolution would put eyes and ears on the ground, it would not protect civilians. The inability of the Council to unite around even such a modest resolution raised serious questions about its willingness to act to prevent atrocities, especially when a Government was implicated. The United States had settled for much less than what it had wanted in today’s resolution, and it worried that the Council’s inability to unite sent the wrong message to parties that already felt a strong sense of impunity. Warning that “this is a prevention moment”, she said that, while the text was a step forward, it was a much smaller one than the people of Burundi deserved.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) expressed his country’s strong support for deployment of police in Burundi. Reiterating his deep concern about the persistence of violence in the country, including forced disappearances and torture, he called upon the Government to fully implement the resolution, saying a peaceful settlement of the crisis was possible through political dialogue.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) acknowledged the escalation of tensions in Burundi, and said the resolution was a small milestone in efforts to restore peace and security in order to realize a lasting political solution.
VLADIMIR SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said international and regional efforts with regard to Burundi would be successful only if they strictly respected that country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. All actions of the United Nations must be built on those principles, he said.
Mr. LIU (China), taking the floor a second time, said the fundamental interests of the Government and people of Burundi must be protected. Calling for responsible attitude, he stressed that Council members should be cautious in dealing with such important matters. It was not helpful for Council members to question the positions of other States.
Ms. POWER (United States), responding to that statement, said the Council had so far succeeded in taking a cautious approach to the question of Burundi. “We have yet to do anything to materially affect the trajectory of the conflict,” she said, noting that today’s resolution was a modest one. Emphasizing the need for the Council to unite, she stressed that “the people of Burundi are counting on us”.
KORO BESSHO (Japan), stressing that the hard work of all parties must not vanish, called upon Council members to take necessary actions to contribute to the peace process in Burundi. To prevent further deterioration, it was critical that all parties act in unity. Regarding the deployment of police forces, he said that it could help the Council to monitor the situation on the ground and to build mutual trust. In conclusion, he expressed hope that Burundi would find its way towards peace and stability.
Mr. ABOULATTA (Egypt), taking the floor a second time, emphasized that the text did not refer to the Government regarding the police deployment.
Ms. POWER (United States), drawing attention to the delay in the deployment of the African Union observers, said it undermined the exercise of their mandates.
The full text of resolution 2303 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions, as well as the statements of its President, on Burundi, in particular its resolutions 2279 (2016) and 2248 (2015) and the statements of its President of 18 February 2015 (S/PRST/2015/6), 26 June 2015 (S/PRST/2015/13) and 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 (the Arusha Agreement), 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 extrajudicial killings, sexual violence in the context of the political crisis, arbitrary arrests and detentions, including those involving children, forced disappearances, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment, harassment and intimidation of civil society organizations and journalists, restriction of fundamental freedoms, as well as indiscriminate use of grenade attacks, especially against civilians,
“Noting reports of a decrease of public acts of violence and killings while expressing concern over reports of increased cases of forced disappearances and acts of torture expressing deep concern following the report from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) of 17 June 2016 (A/HRC/32/30), which documents 348 extrajudicial executions and about 651 cases of torture in Burundi between April 2015 and April 2016, committed mostly by the Burundian security forces as reported by OHCHR, and expressing concern over the significant number of arrest and detention cases involving children, who are often held in adult prisons,
“Noting the cooperation and access provided by the Government of Burundi to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
“Noting the visits to Burundi from 1 to 8 March and from 13 to 17 June 2016 of the experts of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution of 17 December 2015,
“Recalling that Burundi is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and has obligations to fight impunity for crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the Court, emphasizing that the International Criminal Court is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions, and noting the opening on 25 April 2016 of a preliminary examination by the Prosecutor of the ICC into the situation in Burundi since April 2015,
“Underscoring its deep concern for the continued worsening of the humanitarian situation, marked by more than 270,000 Burundians seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and commending the host countries for their efforts,
“Strongly condemning all public statements, coming from in or outside the country, that incite violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society,
“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 respect for the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement, welcoming in this regard the meetings of the political dialogue for Burundi held in Arusha from 21 to 24 May and from 12 to 14 July 2016, under the auspices of the Facilitator of the East African Community (EAC), Benjamin William Mkapa, and commending the Facilitator’s decision to convene further meetings, including with those stakeholders who were not present in Arusha,
“Commending the African Union’s active engagement for a peaceful solution to the Burundian crisis, welcoming in this regard the visit to Burundi, on 25 and 26 February 2016, by the African Union (AU) High-Level Delegation, 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 (the Mediator) on behalf of the EAC, and welcoming the visit of the AU Peace and Security Council from 22 to 25 June 2016,
“Stressing the importance of coordinating efforts between the African Union, the East African Community, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, the European Union and the United Nations, including the Special Adviser for conflict prevention, including in Burundi to continue to seek solutions to the crisis in Burundi,
“Welcoming the consent of the Burundian authorities to increase the number of AU human rights observers to 100 and the number of AU military experts to 100, expressing concern over the significant delays in the deployment of the AU human rights observers and military experts, noting that only 32 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed to Burundi so far,
“Noting that a number of bilateral and multilateral partners have suspended their financial and technical assistance to the Government of Burundi, in view of 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 resumption of the assistance, including by fulfilling the commitments announced by the Government of Burundi on 23 February 2016,
“Reiterating its appreciation for 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, and expressing its support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser on conflict prevention, including in Burundi, in support of a peaceful resolution of the crisis, consistent with its resolutions 2248 (2015) and 2279 (2016),
“Noting the Secretary-General’s letter of 18 April 2016 on options for the deployment of a United Nations police contribution in Burundi (S/2016/352), pursuant to the Security Council’s request in its resolution 2279 (2016),
“Taking note of the consent of the Government of Burundi, in its letter to the President of the Security Council of 15 July 2016, for the deployment of a United Nations police component, including 50 United Nations police officers,
“Recalling that the United Nations political engagement in Burundi aims at peacefully resolving the current crisis in the country, stressing that a United Nations police contribution would be an integral part of this engagement, and agreeing with the Secretary-General that the presence of a United Nations police contribution would help create an environment conducive to political dialogue by averting further deterioration of the security situation, as well as human rights violations and abuses, enhance the United Nations’ situational awareness and provide early warning capacity to enable national, regional and international stakeholders to address emerging security and human rights concerns,
Rejection of Violence and Respect for Human Rights
“1. Strongly urges the Government of Burundi and all parties to cease and 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 or undermine the inter-Burundian dialogue as referred to in paragraph 6 of this resolution;
“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 crimes involving violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights, as applicable, including those involving sexual violence and all violations and abuses against children;
“3. Welcomes the steps made by the Government of Burundi to withdraw some media and civil society organizations bans, cancel some arrest warrants and release a number of detainees, and urges the Government of Burundi to urgently fulfil the remaining commitments it announced on 23 February 2016 and to re-open all media outlets and release all political detainees;
“4. Urges the Government of Burundi to continue to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, requests the Secretary-General, in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to take appropriate steps to reinforce the human rights monitoring capacity to monitor the situation in Burundi, consistent with paragraph 13 of this resolution;
“5. Expresses its intention to pursue targeted measures against all actors, inside and outside Burundi, who threaten the peace and security of Burundi;
“6. 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 take part actively, constructively and urgently in the EAC-led, AU-endorsed political dialogue facilitated by the Mediator and the EAC Facilitator, in order to hold a genuine and inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, and expresses its full support to the Facilitator’s efforts to increase the inclusiveness of this process;
“7. Requests the Secretary-General, through the good offices of his Special Adviser for conflict prevention, including in Burundi, to continue to support the inter-Burundian dialogue as referred to in paragraph 6 of this resolution, and in this regard, to continue to coordinate and work with the EAC, AU-endorsed, Mediator and his Facilitator, as well as with the High-Level Delegation from the AU, and to provide all necessary technical and substantive support to the mediation;
“8. Requests the Secretary-General, to swiftly implement the strengthening of the Office of the Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, as referred to in paragraph 10 of resolution 2279 (2016) and paragraph 7 of resolution 2248 (2015), by substantially increasing the number of political officers in Burundi in order to:
(i) Engage with all stakeholders to the crisis, including the Government, opposition, political parties, civil society, religious leaders and others,
(ii) Provide substantive support to the inter-Burundian dialogue as referred to in paragraph 6 of this resolution,
(iii) Work with all Burundian parties to develop confidence-building measures to improve the human rights and security situation, and foster an environment conducive to political dialogue;
“9. Calls on States in the region to contribute to a solution to the crisis in Burundi, and to refrain from any interference, including through supporting the activities of armed movements in any way, and to respect their obligations under international law, and recalls in this regard commitments of the States in the region under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees;
African Union Observers and Experts
“10. Urges the Government of Burundi, in coordination with the African Union Commission, to ensure the continued and full deployment of 100 AU human rights observers and 100 AU military experts without further delay, and urges the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to provide them with full cooperation and access in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate;
“11. Requests the Secretary General to report to the Security Council within 30 days, in close coordination with the AU, on proposals to enable the United Nations to facilitate the deployment of the AU observers and on modalities for cooperation between the United Nations police component, as referred to in paragraph 13 of this resolution, and the AU observers, taking into account their comparative advantages and within their respective mandates, in compliance with the United Nations standards and practices and consistent with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;
United Nations Contingency Planning
“12. Reaffirms the importance of United Nations and AU contingency planning, and requests the Secretary-General to advance contingency planning, consistent with resolution 2279 (2016), to enable the international community to respond to any further deterioration of the situation and to report to the Security Council as needed with contingency planning proposals;
United Nations Police Component
“13. Requests the Secretary-General to establish a United Nations police officers component in Burundi for an initial period of one year to monitor the security situation and to support OHCHR in monitoring human rights violations and abuses, under the authority of the Office of the Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, in coordination with the AU human rights observers and military experts in Burundi, in accordance with their respective mandates;
“14. Authorizes a ceiling of 228 United Nations individual police officers for the United Nations police component as referred to in paragraph 13 of this resolution, headed by a United Nations senior police adviser, to be deployed in Bujumbura and throughout Burundi, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure their progressive deployment;
“15. Requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps for the protection of United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, pursuant to standard United Nations practices, in consultation with the Government of Burundi;
“16. Urges the Government of Burundi, as well as all Burundian stakeholders, to cooperate fully with the deployment and activities of the United Nations police component in Burundi, and to allow full and unhindered access by United Nations personnel to places of detention and individual detainees;
“17. Calls on Member States in the region, to allow the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to and from Burundi of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions and supplies, which are for the exclusive and official use of the United Nations police component in Burundi;“18. Expresses its intent to keep under review and to adapt the size, composition and mandate of the United Nations police component in Burundi in light of the evolution of the security situation, as well as of the progress made in the respect of human rights and in a genuine and inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue as referred to in paragraph 6 of this resolution;
Reports of the Secretary-General
“19. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the situation in Burundi every three months after the adoption of this resolution, including on any public incidents of incitements to hatred and violence, as well as on steps to ensure the deployment of the United Nations police component and on possible adaptations of the United Nations police component as referred to in paragraphs 13 and 14 of this resolution, and further requests the Secretary-General to provide written reports immediately to the Security Council, as necessary, on grave security incidents, violations of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of human rights, as applicable, of which the United Nations police component in Burundi, together with OHCHR, has knowledge, whoever perpetrates them;
“20. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”