The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Matthew Rycroft (United Kingdom):
On 9 March, the members of the Security Council met to discuss the situation in Burundi.
The members of the Security Council took note of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2017/165) and expressed their deep concern over the political situation, the lack of progress in implementing resolution 2303 (2016) and the lack of engagement by the Government of Burundi in that regard. While noting that the security situation in the country has remained generally calm, they were alarmed by the increasing numbers of refugees leaving the country and disturbed by reports of torture, forced disappearances and killings.
The members of the Security Council commended regional efforts to help Burundians find political solutions and reiterated their support to the facilitation led by former President Benjamin Mkapa under the mediation of President [Yoweri] Museveni, in his capacity as Chair of the East African Community. The members of the Security Council stressed that the East African Community-led, African Union-endorsed inter-Burundian dialogue is the only viable process for a sustainable political settlement in Burundi. In this regard, they called on States in the region to contribute to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Burundi, and noted with appreciation the communiqué of the guarantors of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, issued on 27 January 2017 and expressing the full support of the guarantors for the East African Community facilitation and calling all parties to collaborate towards the acceleration and conclusion of the dialogue process, including ensuring the participation of women. They stressed the importance of active engagement of the East African Community member States for the regional mediation, facilitated by Benjamin Mkapa, to be continued and to succeed.
The members of the Security Council looked forward to discussions on Burundi at the forthcoming Summit of the East African Community to address impediments to progress in the dialogue process. They also welcomed the establishment of a joint working group comprised of the East African Community, African Union and United Nations in support of the Facilitator.
The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern over slow progress in the East African Community-led, African Union-endorsed inter-Burundian dialogue. They called for all stakeholders committed to a peaceful solution to take part actively, constructively and urgently in the above-mentioned dialogue.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their demand that all sides in Burundi refrain from any action that would threaten peace and stability in the country and may affect regional stability in the long run. They stressed the utmost importance of respecting the Constitution as well as the letter and spirit of the Arusha Agreement, which has helped to sustain a decade of peace in Burundi.
The members of the Security Council urged the Government of Burundi to reengage with international partners, especially the United Nations, in a constructive manner based on mutual trust. They reiterated their full support to the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser on conflict prevention, including in Burundi, in their efforts to engage the Government of Burundi on the modalities of the implementation of resolution 2303 (2016) in accordance with established United Nations practice.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their regret at the decision by Burundi to suspend all cooperation and collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), which has been present in the country since 1995 to strengthen Burundi’s rule of law institutions, and hoped that a swift solution can be found through dialogue between OHCHR and the Government that will enable OHCHR to resume its activities, including its monitoring and reporting functions. They took note in this regard of the fact that the Government of Burundi has transmitted on 24 February 2017 to OHCHR in Geneva its response to the draft agreement between the Republic of Burundi and the United Nations concerning the establishment of an Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Burundi sent by OHCHR in November 2016.
The members of the Security Council called on the Government and the African Union to sign without further delay the memorandum of understanding, which will allow the African Union human rights observers and military experts to fully operate in the country in fulfilment of their mandated responsibilities. They emphasized the importance of the deployment of African Union observers and took note of the Secretary-General’s letter of 19 September 2016 in that regard.
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern about the humanitarian and human rights situation in the country and called on the Secretary-General to continue to sustain United Nations humanitarian assistance in support of the Burundian population. They further noted 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 encouraged 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.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the announced release of 2,500 prisoners, with political detainees among them, as part of the annual presidential pardon and urged the Burundian sides to take further measures in order to overcome the current political impasse. They noted with concern continued reports of violations and abuses of human rights, strongly condemned such acts and, recalling the primary responsibility of the Government of Burundi for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its population, with respect to the rule of law and human rights, reiterated their call on all parties to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedom for all and on the Government to hold accountable those responsible for violating or abusing these rights, whoever perpetrates them. They called on the Government of Burundi to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi mandated under Human Rights Council resolution A/HCR/33/24.
They also called 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 recalled in this regard commitments of the States in the region under the Framework agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region and the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the briefing by the chair of the Burundi configuration of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and the continued engagement by the Peacebuilding Commission in Burundi.
The members of the Security Council took note of the agreement between the African Union and the Government of Burundi regarding the continued presence of Burundian troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the resumption of stipends payments.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Burundi.
The members of the Security Council expressed their determination to continue to closely follow the situation in Burundi, including progress in the implementation of resolution 2303 (2016).