May 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2011
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AFRICA

Burundi

Expected Council Action

In May, the Council is expecting a briefing on Burundi by the recently appointed special representative of the Secretary-General, Karin Landgren. The chair of the Burundi configuration, Swiss Permanent Representative Paul Seger, will also brief the Council.

The mandate of BNUB expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
On 9 December 2010, Charles Petrie, the outgoing head of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report. He told the Council that despite the 28 June 2010 elections and progress in the country’s transformation to stability and democracy, the overall situation in Burundi remained fragile with continued human rights concerns, such as reports of political intimidation and extra judicial killings. Following consultations between the UN and Burundi, the Secretary-General recommended that the existing mission be restructured to better reflect current developments in Burundi. Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland, chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), noted that with a newly legitimised government, there were good prospects for Burundi’s economic integration into the East African Community.

On 16 December 2010, the Council adopted resolution 1959 to reconfigure BINUB into the new UN Office in Burundi (BNUB), effective 1 January. BNUB will have a scaled down structure and mandate aimed at supporting democracy and institution-building efforts and establishing the foundations for sustainable development. On 31 December 2010, the Secretary-General appointed Karin Landgren as his special representative and head of BNUB. A deputy special representative has yet to be appointed.

On 5 January, the president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, promulgated a law adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate creating the Independent National Human Rights Commission.

On 2 February, the Council held an “informal interactive dialogue” with Seger and Landgren. The Council, in its 2006 note from the president on working methods, stressed its desire to hold dialogues with new special representatives of the Secretary-General before they assume their duties, but in practice such meetings until now have been very sporadic.

On 2 March, the UN inaugurated the UN Regional Office in Central Africa (UNOCA), a new political office designed to support Central African nations, including Burundi, in the promotion of peace and stability. UNOCA will facilitate regional coordination and information exchange on issues such as cross-border arms trafficking and organised crime.

Burundi, which is the second highest troop-contributor to the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) sustained heavy losses in an offensive by al-Shabab that started on 18 February. Reports indicate that at least 53 peacekeepers, including 43 Burundians, had been killed.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
On 21 April, the Burundi configuration of the PBC adopted a document containing the outcome of the fifth and final review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi. The fifth review covered the period from February 2010 to January 2011 and concluded following the visit of the chair of the Burundi configuration to the country in February. The outcome document reviews the progress achieved through the strategic framework and provides the outline for renewed engagement between Burundi and the commission.

The PBC’s future engagement with Burundi will coincide with the preparation of a new poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP II), which the government of Burundi envisions completing by this summer. The outcome document identifies peacebuilding challenges in both the political and institutional sphere and in the socioeconomic sphere in which the commission can assist Burundi.

Following the conclusion of the PRSP II, the PBC intends to organise a donor conference in Bujumbura in order to broaden the donor base and develop new partnerships for Burundi.

 

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 25 March the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolved without a vote that, in view of the major changes following the 2010 elections in Burundi, the UN independent expert on human rights in that country, Fatsah Ouguergouz, should report to the HRC at its 17th session in June. In an earlier public statement, Ouguergouz had welcomed Burundi’s adoption recently of a law establishing the Independent National Human Rights Commission. He called on the Burundian authorities to appoint commissioners without delay “following an open, transparent and democratic process which will guarantee the effective participation of all concerned social entities.”

Key Issues
A key issue is assessing the progress of the transformation of BINUB into BNUB and whether the new role for the UN in Burundi is suitable for the evolving situation in the country.

A related issue is the role that UNOCA might play in the region as it becomes more operational.

Another issue is how to encourage a political dialogue between the government and the opposition and strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Options
Options for the Council include:

· adopting a statement that encourages the efforts of the special representative and the encourages the work of the PBC;

· including in a statement specific reference to the role that UNOCA might play in conjunction with the PBC;

· stressing the importance of political challenges of reconciliation if the peacebuilding process is to be successful in the long run; or

· taking no action at this time.

Council Dynamics
Council members are expecting to hear from the special representative for the first time since her deployment in February about her efforts in downsizing and reconfiguring BINUB into BNUB, especially since the Council refrained from requesting a written report on BNUB in resolution 1959.

For many Council members, the relatively successful presidential elections of June 2010 were a key factor in agreeing to terminate BINUB in favour of a scaled-down political mission concerned with capacity-building and peacebuilding. However, a number of Council members remain interested in encouraging the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party and the opposition National Liberation Forces (FNL) to begin a political dialogue, after the latter boycotted the elections.

In recent years, Burundi has not been an issue on which Council members have diverged greatly. Council members generally view the security situation in Burundi as stable, while aware of its fragility due to the history of ethnic conflict. Though much progress remains to be made on issues of rule of law, the abundance of small arms, extrajudicial killings, political persecution, corruption, and property disputes, Council members note the progress, albeit slow at times, that has been achieved in Burundi in recent years.

Several Council members view the new configuration of BNUB as a transition phase. Some are of the view that the key factor to any further adjustments of the mandate depends on the willingness the government of Burundi to improve the political climate.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1959 (16 December 2010) reconfigured BINUB into BNUB as of 1 January.
  • S/RES/1902 (17 December 2009) extended the mandate of BINUB until 31 December 2010.
  • S/RES/1719 (25 October 2006) established BINUB.

Latest Security Council Presidential Statement

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • PBC/5/BDI/L.1 (21 April 2011) was the outcome of the fifth review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • S/2006/507 (19 July 2006) was a note from the president of the Council on its working methods.

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