What's In Blue

Posted Tue 3 Jul 2012

Burundi Briefing and Consultations

On Thursday (5 July), Karin Landgren—the Secretary-General’s outgoing Special Representative and head of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB)—will brief the Council, followed by consultations. (On 7 June, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon was appointed the new Special Representative and head of mission in Burundi.) Ambassador Paul Seger (Switzerland), the chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), is also expected to brief the Council. Council members are likely to be particularly interested in an update of the situation in Burundi as a written report was not due in advance of the Council meetings. BNUB’s mandate expires on 15 February 2013.

In terms of Council action, it seems that France—as the lead on Burundi—will likely introduce a draft presidential statement following the consultations highlighting the key challenges in the country. (Most notably perhaps, these include political repression and the lack of movement on security sector reform.) If adopted, this presidential statement will likely be accompanied by a letter from the Council President responding to the Secretary-General’s letter of 10 May setting out benchmarks for BNUB (S/2012/310). The letter, which was in line with resolution 2027 (2011), includes an annex of benchmarks and indicators of progress, devised in consultation with the government of Burundi.

The eight listed benchmarks cover a wide range of issues, including democratic progress, governance and institution-building, and human rights. Council members are likely to be interested in obtaining more details about the benchmarks and, in particular, what timeframe is envisaged as the document does not set out specific dates by which the desired progress should be made. Additionally, Council members might seek greater clarity on some of the indicators listed for the benchmarks which are rather unspecific, such as “progress made in the rightsizing of the security and defence forces” and “progress made in the independence of the judiciary”.

It seems that several Council members are determined to send a clear signal to Burundi that improvement in several areas is imperative, especially on the political front. Although this has been a persistent area of tension between the government and the UN in the past, it seems that Council members consider the key challenges impacting peace and security in Burundi as largely political. (During a high-level event on peacebuilding in Burundi held on 23 September 2011 on the margins of the General Assembly, the Foreign Minister of Burundi criticised what he viewed as the overemphasis of the UN and the PBC on the political sphere and recommended that their involvement in Burundi should focus on the socioeconomic sphere.) With this in mind, Council members are likely to seek an update on the levels of corruption in the country (the reduction of which is mentioned in the benchmarks) following reports that the situation is not improving.

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