Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expecting a briefing via video-teleconference on Burundi by the exiting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB), Karin Landgren. The chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Paul Seger (Switzerland), is also expected to brief the Council. The briefing will be followed by consultations.
BNUB’s mandate expires on 15 February 2013.
Key Recent Developments
On 7 December 2011, Landgren briefed the Council on the most recent Secretary-General’s report (S/2011/751), which recommended that BNUB’s mandate be renewed at its current composition. Landgren told the Council that Burundi was showing progress in its peacebuilding efforts. In particular she noted progress in the normalisation of relations between the government and the extra-parliamentary political parties, as the quarterly meetings of the government with registered political parties had been launched. However, Landgren also stressed that prospects for normalising relations with extra-parliamentary opposition parties were overshadowed by the arrests and assassinations of members of some of those parties, as well as by reliable information about recruitment and paramilitary training carried out by members of certain opposition parties.
On 20 December, the Council adopted resolution 2027, extending BNUB’s mandate until 15 February 2013 under the same terms as the previous mandate, stressing that BNUB should support Burundi’s efforts in the area of socioeconomic development. It requested that the Secretary-General update the Council by 31 May on the development of benchmarks for the evolution of BNUB into a UN country team presence and that a briefing be held in July.
The resolution also stressed the need for a thorough, credible, impartial and transparent investigation of serious crimes, in particular extrajudicial killings, and called upon the authorities of Burundi to put an end to such criminal acts and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. It also noted with grave concern continued human rights violations, including torture, and restrictions on civil liberties, including harassment, intimidation and limitations on the freedom of opposition political parties, media and civil society organisations.
Addressing the Council after the adoption of the resolution, Ambassador Herménégilde Niyonzima (Burundi) stressed dismay with the Council’s reference to extra-judicial killings and its criticism of Burundi’s efforts to address impunity. He also noted that the government had made several appeals to the extra-parliamentary opposition for direct dialogue, which have not resulted in any response.
On 10 May, the Secretary-General sent a letter (S/2012/310) to the Council with benchmarks and indicators for the future evolution of BNUB in the fields of security and stability, democratic process, transitional justice, governance and institution-building, rule of law, human rights, regional integration and social and economic development.
On 7 June, the Secretary-General appointed Parfait Onanga-Anyanga (Gabon) as the new Special Representative and head of BNUB. Landgren is the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative in Liberia.
In a 2 May report, Human Rights Watch canvassed political violence in Burundi in 2011 and the early months of 2012. Despite a decrease in violence in 2012, the report found that political killings have continued to plague the country. The report concluded that not only has the state failed to take reasonable steps to ensure security and provide protection for its citizens, it has also not fulfilled its duty to take all reasonable measures to prevent and prosecute these types of crimes.
Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
A draft annual review of the fifth and final review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi was circulated in June within the Burundi configuration. The review is based on another review carried out by the Burundi government and international partners with the participation of civil society and was endorsed in a Forum Politique that took place in Bujumbura on 8 June. The review includes recommendations and future commitments of Burundi and the PBC.
The draft reaffirms the two-track approach (political and socioeconomic) to the engagement of the PBC with Burundi and the priorities set out in the Outcome Document of 26 April 2011. It conveys an agreement that subsequent reviews of progress in peacebuilding would be undertaken under the monitoring and evaluation framework of the new poverty-reduction strategy paper (PRSP II).
The PBC plans to meet in July to formally adopt the annual review. Burundi Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure, Burundi Human Rights Commission Chairman Emmanuel Ntakarutimana and Ombudsperson Mohamed Rukara, may attend. The World Bank and international partners are planning a meeting in Geneva to generate support for the PRSP II, in which the PBC will take part.
Human Rights-Related Developments
A further issue is addressing the role of the PBC in relation to the benchmarks.
Also an issue is how to encourage a political dialogue between the government and the opposition and strengthen good governance, human rights and the rule of law in the country.
Options for the Council include:
- issuing a presidential or press statement taking note of or endorsing the benchmarks;
- requesting BNUB to further develop the benchmarks and report back to the Council;
- encouraging the work of the PBC and stressing the importance of PBC involvement in implementing the benchmarks; or
- taking no action at this time.
Council members see the current BNUB arrangements as a transition phase. During the negotiations on its mandate renewal last December, some countries emphasised the importance of taking into account the position of the government and the need for benchmarks for BNUB’s eventual withdrawal. Therefore, Council members are focusing their attention on the benchmarks they received in May for BNUB’s further reconfiguration.
Several members are of the view that an outcome (whether in the form of a presidential statement or a press statement) is necessary to signal the importance of the benchmarks and their indicators as a working basis to assess the progress of BNUB.
Some members are of the view that the PBC—which was not involved in developing the benchmarks—should be involved in the evaluation process.
The lead country on Burundi is France.
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