On 10 July 2014, the members of the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear by VTC the Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), Mr. Onanga, and the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Mr. Ivan Simonovic, on his recent visit in Burundi (25-27 June).
The Representative of France underlined how important it was to stay vigilant about the evolution of the situation in the country. Despite promising features such as a calmer situation, the Council had to keep on encouraging the authorities to take decisions so that the elections can go smoothly, which was crucial for the country’s stabilization. Other features remained worrying: transitional justice and lands’ distribution, the rise of political violence, and the risks of ethnic tensions. As elections approached, BINUB’s role in facilitating political dialogue was more than ever essential, in a context of rising political violence, mainly those attributed to youth groups, and of restricted liberties of meeting and expression. It was indispensable that the BINUB played its role until the end of its mandate of the 31st of December 2014, and that the transition planned by resolution 2137 to the United Nations country team and the Independent Office in charge of the Human rights monitoring went smoothly and with the Burundian authorities’ cooperation. In this regard, the lack of resources and cooperation from the authorities remained worrying.
On 14 May 2014, the members of the Security Council met to hear by VTC the Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), Mr. Onanga, present in the presence of the Minister for the Interior, Mr. Edouard Nduwimana, the transition plan of the BINUB into a United Nations Country Team. The members of the Council also heard from the chairman of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Seger, on the latest developments of the situation in the country.
According to Mr. Onanga, the transition plan which provided flexible transfer of competence from the BINUB to the United Nations country team was an important moment that announced the end of the United Nations political presence in the country. Mr. Seger assured the Council of the commitment of the configuration in pursuing peace-building operations after the departure of the BINUB. Mr. Onanga also spoke of the importance of socio-economic development and of reforms, particularly those devoted to youth, human rights and development. Mr. Seger mentioned his willingness to convene a round table to ensure the Follow-up to the 2012 Geneva conference based on the fight against poverty and economic reforms.
However, Mr. Onanga and Mr. Seger expressed concerns about an increase in political and security tensions with the upcoming elections of 2015 due to the absence of an inclusive dialogue, a limited political space and mutual mistrust between the ruling party and the opposition party. It increased political violence, in particular between youth groups affiliated with political parties. In order to establish a peaceful environment enabling the organization of free, fair and transparent elections, there was a need to support political dialogue, tolerance and the fight against impunity.
During the following consultations, the Permanent Representative of France recalled that this transition plan would rely on the finding of resources for the monitoring of these missions. France was also in favor of quickly deploying the electoral mission provided for in resolution 2137 in the country in order to ensure a smooth political transition with the BINUB.
On 24 April 2014, the members of the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear Mr. Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the latest developments of the political and security situation in Burundi.
The Representative of France regretted the recent decision of the Burundian government to evict the head of security of BNUB. He encouraged the creation of an open and calm political environment conducive to peaceful and credible elections in 2015. He supported the implementation of the transition from BNUB to the UN country team, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2137.
On 8 April 2014, the members of the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear the deputy Secretary-General Mr. Feltman on the latest developments in Burundi.
The Representative of France expressed concerns about the increased political tensions in the country and called for supporting the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) efforts in order to encourage an inclusive political dialogue. The Representative of France condemned the use of violence and incitement to hatred, in particular by youth groups. Since the adoption of resolution 2137, the situation was remaining fragile. In view of the 2015 elections, progress made had to be irreversible and a return to instability had to be avoided.
Following these consultations, a press statement has been adopted.
On 26 March 2014, the members of the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear Mr. Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the situation in Burundi.
The Permanent Representative of France stressed the need to preserve a wide political space respectful of human rights and individual freedoms, especially with a view to the 2015 elections. This was in no way an attempt to interfere but was aiming to prevent a future relapse of a grave crisis in this still fragile State. In this context, the preservation of Arusha Agreements was essential. All means of consultations and dialogue with the Burundian authorities available to the Council had to be used (the United Nations office, the Special Representative and the Transition group).
On 13 February 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2137 renewing the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB).
The Permanent Representative of the United States recalled that Burundi had made tangible progress since the end of the civil war. However, he expressed concerns regarding the growing tensions and the political dead end due to the distrust between the main political actors. In this context, he stressed the need for renewing the presence of the BNUB. He strongly supported the BNUB mandate renewal in order to achieve lasting peace, stability and development in the country.
The Representative of Burundi welcomed the calmer political climate in Burundi, which was a result of cooperation with the international community. He thanked France for its work to facilitate dialogue with the Security Council members. According to him, human Rights, protection of civilians, the electoral process and development were at the heart of the concerns of Burundi. The country was continuing its combat for peacebuilding.
On 28 January 2014, the Security Council met to examine the situation in Burundi and the terms of the renewal of the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB). The Special Representative of the Secretary-general Mr Parfait Onanga-Anyanga recalled that Burundi had made progress since the end of the civil war, considering for example that elections had been held in 2005 and 2010. However, he expressed concern regarding some recent evolutions such as the atmosphere of distrust between main political protagonists, the absence of a consensual process for the revision of the Constitution and political violence. In this contexte, the Secretary-general had called in his report for the renewal of the mandate of the BNUB. Mr Laurent Kavakure, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burundi, mentioned the achievements of Burundi since the 2000 Arusha agreement that -according to him- justified the impending closure of the BNUB. He stated that, in the spirit of consensus, he was still in favor of a BNUB presence, at least until the end of the year. During closed consultations, the Permanent Representative of France encouraged Council members to take into account the views of Burundi and to find a mutually acceptable compromise on the presence of BNUB.
Since the Arusha Agreement, signed in Tanzania in August 2000, the peace process instituted in the aftermath of a civil war, that lasted for more than 13 years, has registered significant progress. In November 2003, the main Hutu rebel organization - the Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces de Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD), led by Pierre Nkurunziza, joined the process. On 5 August 2005, a power-sharing agreement signed in Pretoria led to the drafting of a constitution that was adopted by referendum in February 2005.
Within the framework of these agreements, municipal, legislative, senatorial and presidential elections were held between March and August 2005, in the presence of international observers from the European Union, the African Union and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Following the elections, which gave a broad victory to the CNDD-FDD, Pierre Nkurunziza was elected President of the Burundian Republic.
Recent years have seen the end of the conflict between the army dominated by the Tutsi and the Hutu movement of National Forces of Liberation Forces (FNL). The FNL turned into a political party. They have also released their prisoners and children who were associated with the movement’s military activity.
New presidential, parliamentary and local elections took place from June to September 2010. Although the conduct of these elections was generally considered satisfactory by all observers, both domestic and international, opposition, well ahead in Bujumbura with over 70% of the vote in local elections, but highly disappointed with its defeat in the provinces, has consolidated, with the notable exception of Uprona, in an alliance of circumstance (CDA Ikibiri) to contest the election. President Nkurunziza has finally been re-elected since the opposition boycotted all elections after the local elections of 24 May 2010.
Moreover, much progress remains to be made, particularly with regard to human rights. While Burundi abolished the death penalty in April 2009, the criminalization of homosexuality, the murder of albinos, and delays in the establishment of a transitional justice system are areas of concern to the UN. The Secretary-General has also urged greater freedom of expression, particularly for opposition parties.
During summer 2011, Burundi’s security situation has turned sour, as attacks by small armed groups multiplied. These attacks first targeted the regions of rural Bujumbura, Citiboke and Bubanza and later spread over most of the territory. The government launched a coordination process with the two neighour countries Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda to thwart the resurgence of an armed rebellion in the DRC.
Concerns on the political situation added to the deterioration of the security context. For months, the international community encouraged Burundi’s authorities and the extra-parliamentary opposition to engage in dialogue. The First Vice-President of the Republic invited all the registered political parties to an “information, dialogue and consultation meeting” on 25 July 2011. None of the parties from the CDA-Ibkiri participated.
On 18 September 2011, Burundi was struck by a major terrorist attack in Gatumba, in the outskirts of Bujumbura, which killed near forty people. The government declared that “all the measures to improve the security of the stricken populations” would be taken during the investigation. It forbid the media to publish, comment or analyze any news related to the investigation.
On 7 November 2011, the Security Council met to hear the report by Mrs Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi, on BNUB’s activities and the situation in the country.
Mrs Landgren depicted an overall calm security situation, and underscored the progress made regarding transitional justice. However, steps had yet to be taken by the government to strengthen the judiciary system and put an end to the extra judiciary killings. She commended Burundi’s action towards peace within AMISOM despite the internal challenges the country had to face.
Mr. Paul Seger, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi Configuration depicted a context of extreme poverty in the country, informing the Council that the Peacebuilding Commission would focus on supporting the government’s strategy to fight poverty, while calling for intensified efforts from Burundi regarding governance, national dialogue and freedom of the media.
On 20 December 2011, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2027
On 13 February 2013, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2090 renewing the mandate of BNUB for one year.
On 13 February 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2137 renewing the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB).
The UN strongly backed the peace process in Burundi. This commitment translated notably into the creation of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) on 21 May 2004, by resolution 1545, whose mission is to “support and help to implement the efforts undertaken by Burundians to restore lasting peace and bring about national reconciliation, as provided under the Arusha Agreement.” The ONUB mandate included the following principal objectives:
- to ensure the respect of ceasefire agreements
- to promote the re-establishment of confidence between the Burundian forces present
- to carry out the disarmament and demobilization portions of the national program of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants
- to monitor, to the extent possible, the illegal flow of arms across the national borders
- to contribute to the creation of the necessary security conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance, and facilitate the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons
- to contribute to the successful completion of the electoral process stipulated in the Arusha Agreement
- to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
On 31 December 2006, the ONUB ended its mandate and was replaced by a new mission, the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), established by resolution 1719 of 25 October 2006. It is to focus on the following points:
- the consolidation of peace and establishment of democratic governance
- disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform
- the promotion and defense of human rights and the fight against impunity
- the coordination of donors and UN agencies.
BINUB’s mandate was extended until 31 December 2010 by resolution 1902 of 17 December 2009. BINUB pays special attention to the support of the electoral process, to democratic governance, to the consolidation of peace, to sustainable reintegration and gender issues.
The Security Council decided in December 2010 to replace BINUB by a United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB), of smaller size, for an initial period of twelve months until 31 December 2011, to assist the Government of Burundi in consolidating peace, supporting governance, protecting human rights and supporting development in Burundi (resolution 1959 of 16 December 2010).
France supports the positive progress made in the peace process in Burundi, but many challenges remain, particularly in the socio-economic and human rights. The Commission for the Consolidation of Peace has played a key role in this process (see the page devoted to the PBC on this website).
On 5 July 2012, the Security Council heard the briefings of Mrs Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi, and Mr Seger, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi Configuration.
Since November 2011, the government of Burundi had taken concrete measures on governance; fight against corruption and against poverty. The political situation had stabilized and the contacts between the government and the extra-parliamentary groups were positive. However, Mrs Landgren expressed her concern over the pressure put on the opposition groups and deplored that a few number of extrajudicial executions had been prosecuted. The socio-economic conditions also remained a destabilizing factor.
In closed consultations, the representative of France noted the institutional progresses but encouraged the government of Burundi to pursue its efforts in terms of transitional justice.
On 22 July 2013, the Security Council heard the presentations of Mr. Perfect Onanga-Anyang, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi and Mr. Paul Seger, President of the "Burundi" Configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. Both welcomed the improvements made in terms of governance and rule of law in Burundi. However, they also stated that significant challenges remained, particularly in the context of the upcoming elections in 2015, and in order to ensure an effective national reconciliation.
The Security Council then met in closed consultations during which the representative of France encouraged a continuous support by international donors, based on democratic progress made by Burundi. He also expressed concerns about the media law recently adopted, which may reduce medias’ freedom of expression, the persistent tensions related to land issues, as well as violent activities of some youth organizations.
13 February 2014 - Resolution 2137 renewing the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB).
13 February 2013 - Resolution 2090 renewing for one year the mandate of the BNUB
20 December 2011 - Resolution 2027 renewing the mandate of BNUB
16 December 2010 - Resolution 1959 - replacing BINUB by a United Nations Office in Burundi
23 June 2010 - Security Council - Press Statement on Burundi
17 December 2009 - Resolution 1902 - extension of BINUB mandate to 31 December 2010
9 June 2009 - Security Council - Press Statement on Burundi
22 December 2008 - Resolution 1858 - extension of BINUB mandate to 31 December 2009
26 August 2008 - Security Council - Press Statement on Burundi
25 October 2006 - Resolution 1719: establishment of BINUB
21 May 2004 - Resolution 1545: establishment of ONUB