February 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2013
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AFRICA

Burundi

Expected Council Action

In February, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB).

BNUB’s mandate expires on 15 February.

Key Recent Developments

On 10 May 2012, the Secretary-General sent the President of the Council a letter with benchmarks and indicators for the future evolution of BNUB into a country team presence (S/2012/310). The benchmarks and indicators concerned the areas 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 his new Special Representative and head of BNUB. 

Karin Landgren, the outgoing Special Representative and head of BNUB gave her last briefing to the Council on 5 July (S/PV.6799). The chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Paul Seger (Switzerland), also briefed the Council. The briefing was followed by consultations attended by Landgren and Council members. 

On 26 July, the Council sent a letter to the Secretary-General, requesting data and assessments for each issue mentioned in the benchmarks, including observations on timing, trends and the role of BNUB in their implementation (S/2012/584). 

A high-level donor conference on Burundi was held in Geneva on 29-30 October, harnessing more than $2 billion in pledges in support of Burundi’s Second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. 

Onanga-Anyanga briefed the Council on 24 January on developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report on BNUB which analyses progress regarding the benchmarks (S/2013/36). The report notes that overall the security situation remains stable, yet expresses concern over the violent activities of some in the youth league of the ruling party, aimed at intimidation and repression of certain populations, and a need for greater emphasis on justice and ending impunity. In his briefing, Onanga-Anyanga warned of the undermining effect that the distrust between the government and the opposition—manifest since the 2010 general elections, which were boycotted by the opposition—could have on democratisation, progress and holding successful elections scheduled for 2015. He concluded that BNUB’s mandate should be renewed as is for another year, during which an assessment mission should evaluate the UN’s future presence in Burundi, and called on Burundi to accelerate efforts to reach the benchmarks to allow a transition from BNUB to a UN country team as soon as possible. 

Seger also briefed the Council, noting Burundi’s wish to continue its engagement with the PBC in future years, the strong cooperation between the PBC and BNUB and the importance of BNUB’s presence in Burundi until 2015. He added that the PBC’s future engagement with Burundi will continue to focus both on social-economic development and on political-institutional issues, stressing their interdependence. On the political-institutional side, the PBC will assist with political dialogue, reconciliation and transitional justice, rule of law and good governance. Albert Nshingiro, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Burundi, told the Council that BNUB should be converted into a UN country team in 12 months. The briefing was followed by consultations.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission

As a follow-up to the Geneva conference, the African Development Bank, the EU, the IMF, the UN Development Program and the World Bank pledged their continued support to the country’s achievements and commitments in a meeting of the Burundi configuration on 16 November. The five organisations and donor countries also singled out the need to further intensify the fight against corruption and impunity and to ensure an open dialogue with all actors in society. 

Seger visited Burundi from 14-16 January, where he met with President Pierre Nkurunziza and the regional director of the World Bank. He also held meetings with other political figures from the ruling party and the opposition, the President of the electoral commission, the President of the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC), the head of the tax authority, international partners and representatives of civil society. Seger then met with the director of the World Bank’s Center on Conflict, Security and Development in Nairobi on 17 January.

In a meeting of the PBC Burundi steering group on 22 January, Seger identified two main political concerns in Burundi: the need to include opposition parties in the process leading up to the 2015 elections and problems with a draft law on the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission currently before the legislature. The draft has been criticised by some as not meeting international standards and focusing only on reconciliation while ignoring justice aspects. In particular, a special tribunal as called for in the Arusha Peace Accords is absent from the draft, and it excludes international commissioners. 

 Human Rights-Related Developments

In his latest report on BNUB, the Secretary-General noted that the number of extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions and politically motivated killings remained unacceptably high. The Secretary-General, however, noted signs of improvement in the human rights situation in 2012 compared with the preceding two years. In particular, he noted the work of the INHRC, which submitted its first report to the National Assembly in March 2012. He called for further efforts to ensure that all human rights violations are seriously investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice. He called for greater discipline and professionalism in the security forces and for protecting and encouraging civil society organisations and independent media.

On 29 January, the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) working group on the Universal Periodic Review adopted a report on Burundi following the 24 January review. Burundi accepted all 174 recommendations that were put forward by over 70 delegations and said it would provide responses before the 23rd HRC session scheduled for June.

Key Issues

A key issue is assessing Burundi’s progress in achieving the benchmarks and how such progress may be reflected in BNUB’s mandate.

A further issue is addressing the role of the PBC in relation to the benchmarks.

Options

Options for the Council include:

  • renewing BNUB’s mandate in its current configuration;
  • indicating its support for an assessment mission in order to consider adjustments to BNUB’s mandate in 2014;
  • emphasising the importance of political dialogue in Burundi;
  • highlighting that the successful conduct of the 2015 elections will be key to measuring Burundi’s progress; and
  • specifying the role of the PBC in assisting Burundi in achieving the benchmarks.
Council Dynamics

As the Council was last briefed on Burundi only orally, the main issue of interest for Council members is receiving the first written report on the benchmarks and the progress made towards achieving them. Council members see the current BNUB arrangements as a transition phase. During the negotiations on its mandate renewal in December 2011, some countries emphasised the importance of taking into account the position of the government and the need for benchmarks for BNUB’s eventual withdrawal.

As both Burundi and the Secretary-General are in agreement on the mandate renewal, it is likely that a comprehensive discussion on BNUB’s future will be postponed until the future, in particular as Burundi conveyed its wishes to see BNUB’s drawdown take place in 2014, though that position may change within the course of a year. Several Council members are of the opinion that in order to ensure future progress in Burundi, BNUB should remain on the ground until the conclusion of successful elections in 2015.

Some Council members will also want to hear about BNUB’s cooperation with the PBC. It seems that cooperation between the two has improved much in the last few months. Some Council members feel that the chair of the Burundi configuration of the PBC should participate in consultations and not only in the public briefing, which is current practice.

The lead country on Burundi is France.

UN Documents on Burundi

 

Security Council Resolution  
20 December 2011 S/RES/2027 This resolution extended BNUB mandate until 15 February 2013.
Security Council Meeting Records  
24 January 2013 S/PV.6909 This was the first briefing by Special Representative Onanga-Anyanga on developments and the Secretary-General’s BNUB report.
5 July 2012 S/PV.6799 This was the final briefing by outgoing Special Representative Karin Landgren.
Secretary-General’s Report  
18 January 2013 S/2013/36 This report of the Secretary-General analyses Burundi’s progress towards achieving benchmarks for the future evolution of BNUB into a country team.
Security Council Letters  
26 July 2012 S/2012/584 This letter to the Secretary-General requested data and assessments for each issue mentioned in the benchmarks.
10 May 2012 S/2012/310 This letter contained benchmarks and indicators for the future evolution of BNUB.