Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to consider the establishment of a United Nations integrated office in Burundi to take over from the current peacekeeping mission when its mandate expires on 31 December, as recommended by the Secretary-General in the addendum to his June report on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), published on 14 August. At the time of writing it was unclear whether this action would take place in September or October.
The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is likely to have its first country-specific meeting on Burundi early October and the Council may wait until after that meeting. However, the recent tensions may prompt earlier consideration.
Key Recent Developments
Acting Special Representative Nureldin Satti briefed the Council on 25 August on the Secretary-General’s addendum. Council members expressed general agreement with the proposal, but requested more prioritisation with respect to the mandate and structure of the office. The Council also approved a press statement expressing its serious concerns about the reports of a possible coup attempt and called for the government to follow the rule of law in the investigations.
On 30 August the situation further deteriorated when the Burundi government made accusations against Satti and requested his removal.
The drawdown of ONUB’s military component has continued as scheduled and the number of military personnel currently stands at less than two-thirds of its authorised military strength of 5,650.
The Secretary-General’s June report recommended the establishment of a UN integrated office in Burundi to be known as Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies au Burundi (BINUB). The integrated office would consolidate and reinforce the humanitarian and development activities currently undertaken by ONUB and would initially be established for 12 months, starting 1 January 2007.
The Secretary-General and Council members have expressed concern at recent developments in Burundi following the arrest of opposition political figures and allegations of a possible coup. Former President Domitien Ndayizeye was among those arrested.
The government of Burundi and the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) signed the Agreement on Principles towards Lasting Peace, Security and Stability in Burundi on 18 June, however a ceasefire agreement has not yet been concluded.
delay a decision on BINUB until there is greater clarity on the situation in the country with respect to the alleged coup attempt. Possibly, Council members would like to wait until the PBC has had its first meeting on Burundi;
monitor the security situation more closely and, in the event of increasing tensions, adopt a presidential statement calling for calm and restraint;
delay the downsizing of ONUB troops; and
proceed in September and authorise the establishment of BINUB.
Delaying a decision on the transition from peacekeeping to an integrated office would allow the Council to monitor the political developments in Burundi and possibly reconsider the current speed of troop reduction. Since ONUB’s mandate does not expire until the end of this year, there is time for such a strategy.
The main issue for the Council is the maintenance of stability in Burundi so that the last stage of the peace process can be completed. The transformation of the UN presence in the country from a peacekeeping operation to an integrated office should facilitate this. A related issue is the government’s strong wish for the transition to take place as soon as possible. A second issue is the impact of the recent developments. Too rapid a transition could accelerate tension, especially if there is a risk of the situation destabilising or for the democratic process to take an undesirable turn. On the other hand, unnecessary delay could lead to administrative problems for the transition from ONUB to BINUB.
The lack of an agreement between the Burundi government and FNL overshadows both the general stabilisation efforts and the Council’s decision on ONUB troop withdrawal as well as possibly the mandate of the integrated office.
There is wide agreement in the Council that an integrated office is an important step in the peace process and in the transition to a peacebuilding environment. However, some Council members would like to see in the plan for BINUB more prioritisation as well as a clearer coordination with current donor efforts on the ground to avoid duplications.
Burundi faces many challenges in the area of civilian disarmament, transitional justice and human rights violations. Key underlying problems are concerns about the rule of law and accountability. These have been a lead theme within the Council for some time, an example of which was resolution 1606, in which the Council requested negotiations on the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Court Chamber. However, negotiations between the UN and Burundi government are still at an early stage while the recent developments show that a lot still needs to be done on these issues.
|Selected Press Statement|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
For a historical background and more details, please refer to our March 2006 Forecast.
|ONUB Special Representative and Head of Mission|
|To be appointed; Nureldin Satti is Acting Special Representative|
|Major-General Derrick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi (South Africa)|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $82.39 million (gross)|
|June 2004 to present, current mandate expires 31 December 2006|
Useful Additional Sources
Website of the Peacebuilding Commission
- An appeal from Human Rights Watch to the government of Burundi of 4 August 2006 to stop torture of the suspects of the alleged coup attempt
- Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration During the Transition in Burundi: A Technical Analysis, Henri Boshoff and Waldemar Very, Institute for Security Studies, Monograph No 125, August 2006.