Letter dated 8 March 2017 from the Chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission addressed to the President of the Security Council - Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on the situation in Burundi (S/2017/200)
On behalf of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission and in view of the discussions on Burundi to be held in the Security Council on 9 March 2017, I transmit herewith a report on the Commission’s ongoing engagement in Burundi.
I should be grateful if this letter and its annex could be circulated to the members of the Security Council and also be issued as a document of the Council.
I remain committed to cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission on Burundi.
(Signed) Jürg Lauber
Chair of the Burundi configuration
Annex to the letter dated 8 March 2017 from the Chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission addressed to the President of the Security Council
Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on the situation in Burundi
In view of the Security Council consultations on Burundi to be held on 9 March 2017, I would like to report on my ongoing engagement as Chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission.
1. Activities of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission since the last oral briefing to the Security Council, on 18 March 2016
From 4 to 9 July 2016, I travelled to Burundi and Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, in order to pursue the dialogue with the Government and key stakeholders as well as with the East African Community facilitator of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa.
On 7 and 8 November 2016, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Burundi, Paolo Lembo, and I convened the main multilateral partners of Burundi for socioeconomic consultations on Burundi in Geneva. The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and several representatives of the United Nations country team participated in these consultations.
My overall approach to peacebuilding has remained holistic, that is, pertaining to all three pillars of the mandate of the United Nations. In 2016, I held six meetings of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission and briefed the Security Council on three occasions (once orally and twice in writing).
2. Assessment of the current situation in Burundi
At their most recent meetings, members of the configuration heard reports by various United Nations entities, all of which underscored that the situation in Burundi requires sustained attention and support from international partners, for example:
– Reports of human rights monitoring mechanisms concerning the situation of public security and human rights, including with regard to acts of violence and violations of human rights, as well as pressure on civil society organizations and human rights defenders.
– Reports of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, Jamal Benomar, on the ongoing political impasse, including the lack of confidence between the Government and the opposition and the situation of the media, as well as on national, regional and international efforts to find a political settlement of the crisis.
– Reports of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations country team on the deteriorating socioeconomic situation.
Regarding the socioeconomic situation, the consultations which took place in Geneva on 7 and 8 November 2016 were particularly insightful:
– The country’s five participating partners shared the view that Burundi is currently experiencing severe macroeconomic difficulties, which were reflected in negative growth in growth domestic product in 2015 and 2016. Food insecurity affects a much larger area of Burundi than in 2015, and consumer prices are on the rise.
– They identified food security and agriculture, health and education as the sectors which are most seriously affected by the current situation.
– Besides these sectors, the need for broader macroeconomic engagement in Burundi was emphasized in Geneva, since decreasing fiscal revenues (partly related to decreased investments and direct budgetary support) are putting the national budget under pressure.
– In view of these economic indicators, the partners of Burundi showed continued readiness to address the needs of the population and to prevent a further deterioration of the situation.
While recognizing the importance of the contribution of Burundi in African Union and United Nations peacekeeping operations, members of the configuration expressed concerns about the signals of disengagement sent by the Government of Burundi to its regional and international partners, for instance by suspending its cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
We welcome the fact that, on 24 February 2017, the Government of Burundi transmitted to OHCHR in Geneva a draft agreement between the Republic of Burundi and the United Nations concerning the establishment of an office of OHCHR in Burundi.
However, I am personally afraid that, faced with the current situation, the international partners may decide to disengage from the Government and the people of Burundi.