5th Meeting (AM)
Burundi-led strategy identifies key objectives, threats, including ceasefire implementation, promotion of good governance
Recognizing that Burundi's steady recovery from decades of civil strife could be derailed by internal challenges threatening long-term stability, peace and growth, the Peacebuilding Commission today endorsed a Burundi-led strategy to guide the engagement and dialogue between Bujumbura, the United Nations and other international partners to secure lasting peace and sustainable development.
The Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi draws explicitly on the Priority Action Programme prepared by the Government of Burundi in consultation with its partners, and presented at a landmark round table in Bujumbura last month. It identifies key objectives, major challenges and threats to peace, including implementation of a stagnant ceasefire agreement between Burundi and the National Liberation Forces (Palipehutu-FNL). Promoting inclusive growth and employment generation, reforms in the security and justice systems, and radical improvements in governance, transparency and human rights, were among the other top priories.
The Commission, created in 2005 to prevent countries emerging from conflict from sliding back into chaos, chose Burundi as one of its two focus countries -- the other is Sierra Leone -- to receive intensive international support, as well as an initial grant of $35 million, for critical post-conflict peacebuilding projects paving the way for sustainable development. Burundi has struggled through decades of ethnic conflict pitting the Hutu majority against the Tutsi minority and, in 2005, held its first democratic elections in 12 years, subsequently installing a new national Government and disarming some 20,000 combatants.
The strategy recognizes that both national ownership and partnership were essential for the success of peace-consolidation efforts in post-conflict situations, and reflects the mutual commitments from the Government and its partners, including the Peacebuilding Commission, to work together to find solutions to challenges and to mobilize the necessary financial support to fill any institutional gaps hampering the consolidation of peace. The Framework also looks to shore up Burundi's relationship with neighbouring countries, and cites the non-ratification of the historic Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes as a factor that could weaken wider peace process in the region.
"The Strategic Framework is the outcome of an intense process that has involved the Government of Burundi, civil society, the private sector and international partners in Burundi," said Johan L. Løvald ( Norway), Chairman of today's "Burundi Configuration" meeting. He added that tremendous effort had been made under the leadership of the Government of Burundi to produce a document based on shared peacebuilding objectives. The Framework was the "best possible result" for the Commission's first engagement in peacebuilding in Burundi, and one more important step on the part of both Burundi and the international community towards ensuring lasting peace and security in the country.
Venant Kamana, Minister for Good Governance of Burundi, welcomed the Commission's endorsement of the Framework, which he said had integrated the enriching contribution of local society, including women's associations, women's groups and various political parties. Burundi was also satisfied with the contributions made by the members of the Commission, which had added further value to the document. The Government remained open to broad cooperation, both in implementation of the Framework and in monitoring and follow-up projects.
"But, we must move ahead quickly," he said, calling on the Commission and other international partners to ensure that the solid objectives and goals set out in the Framework resulted in concrete actions on the ground. Highlighting a major development, he told the Commission that Burundi's President and the leader of his country's last rebel group had held talks over the weekend in neighbouring United Republic of Tanzania to try to end a deadlock preventing the implementation of the stalled year-old peace deal.
Speaking via video link from Bujumbura, Youssef Mahmoud, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), praised the cooperation between the Burundian capital and the New York-based Commission. At the same time, he drew delegate's attention to one of the Framework's key paragraphs, which stated that the Commission would "strive to reduce to a minimum the reporting requirements or any other additional documentation, allowing the Government of Burundi to focus its limited capacity on implementation of the Framework."
Also from Bujumbura, a representative of civil society confirmed that civic actors were participating actively in the development of the Framework, which he believed was the first such document to be elaborated with the participation of all stakeholders. For that reason, civil society actors, including representatives of women's groups and traditional leaders, shared in the hopes for success and would actively work towards full implementation on the ground. He called upon all partners who had participated in the May round table to stand by their commitments, particularly since many other such events had not yielded the promised benefits.
In New York, the representative of Jamaica welcomed the Commission's move, but warned delegates not to overlook the importance of boosting Burundi's socio-economic development as part of the overall effort to build lasting peace. To that end, he drew attention to specific paragraphs in the Framework that called for particular attention to the lack of opportunities for the reinsertion into society of demobilized fighters and the continued worsening of economic conditions and food shortages in parts of the country aggravated by climate change and a lack of employment for vulnerable groups. He said that it was up to the Commission and Burundi's other partners to work to create an enabling environment for economic recovery and for the promotion of foreign investment flows, among other things.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), United Republic of Tanzania, France, Rwanda, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Japan, Netherlands, Brazil, Denmark, Croatia, Czech Republic, India, Nigeria and the United States. The representative of the European Commission (on behalf of the European Community) also spoke.
For information media - not an official record