What's In Blue

Posted Tue 25 Jul 2017

Burundi Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow (26 July), the Security Council expects to receive a briefing, followed by consultations, on the situation in Burundi. Briefers will include Special Envoy Michel Kafando and Ambassador Jürg Lauber of Switzerland, the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi configuration.

Tomorrow’s meeting takes place in the midst of political and security unrest in Burundi. There are reports that human rights abuses continue to be committed, mainly by the government and the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party. Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, is in the process of serving a third term that his opponents maintain is a violation of the 2000 Arusha Agreement. He has indicated that he is not ruling out a fourth term.

Special Envoy Kafando, former President of the Transition in Burkina Faso (November 2014-December 2015), will most likely emphasise the importance of the political process in Burundi, referring to his recent efforts to support the Inter-Burundian dialogue. He may give Council members an account of his interactions with government, opposition and civil society actors during his recent visits to the country. He was in Burundi from 27-29 June, where he met with President Nkurunziza and called on the Burundian authorities to work with him to resolve the current crisis facing the country. He returned to Burundi from 7-13 July, meeting with various representatives of civil society and political parties. In addition to hearing about Kafando’s meetings, members will be interested in his overall assessment of the political situation in the country. They may be keen as well to learn about his recent interactions on Burundi with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who is mediating on behalf of the East African Community, which is spearheading the Inter-Burundian dialogue.

Ambassador Lauber is expected to brief on his recent visit to Burundi from 10 to 13 July. In a meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission in New York on 21 July, he expressed the view that a discussion of socio-economic issues should complement efforts being made on the political front in Burundi. He further underscored the role that the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund can make in promoting reconciliation efforts in Burundi. Lauber may reiterate these messages during his briefing in the open chamber.

Relations between the Council and the government of Burundi have been difficult over the past year. Resolution 2303, adopted on 29 July 2016, requested the Secretary-General to establish a UN police component of up to 228 police for an initial one year period “to monitor the security situation and to support OHCHR [the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] in monitoring human rights violations and abuses…”. The Burundian government was (and has remained) opposed to the deployment of this component, and the resolution was controversial, with four Council members abstaining (Angola, China, Egypt and Venezuela) on the vote. At present, some Council members maintain that the one year mandate given to the police component in resolution 2303 will not expire on 29 July, as the component was never de facto established, interpreting the mandate as beginning upon its actual deployment.

There is a sense among several members of the need to unify the Council in support of the political process. Some members further stress the need to establish a new basis for renewed engagement with Burundi. The Council may pursue an outcome on Burundi in the near future, but it does not seem that this will be finalised in time for tomorrow’s meeting.