5686th Meeting (PM)
Welcoming recent corrective steps by the Government to promote dialogue, national reconciliation and social harmony in Burundi, the Security Council today called on all political stakeholders there to maintain the spirit of consensus-building and inclusiveness in addressing the issue of equitable power-sharing that had enabled them to achieve a successful transition in their country.
In a presidential statement read out by Zalmay Khalilzad ( United States), its President for May, the Council encouraged the Government to remain committed to finding a political solution to the current deadlock, and urged the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL) to expeditiously fulfil obligations under the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement of 7 September 2006. It called on both parties to pursue their efforts to resolve outstanding issues in a spirit of cooperation.
The Council urged the Government to intensify its efforts on all aspects of security sector reform and to address human rights abuses by members of the security services, bringing perpetrators to justice. It also urged the Government to step up its efforts to combat impunity, paying particular attention to reducing the high level of gender-based violence and violence against children. Recalling the conclusions of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict pertaining to the situation in Burundi (document S/2007/92), the Council called on the parties, United Nations agencies and donor Governments to cooperate with the Working Group in following up on those conclusions.
Inviting the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) to continue its support for peace consolidation, the Council commended the efforts of the African Union Special Task Force and the South Africa Facilitation in support of the Dar es Salaam Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. It also welcomed the resumption, on 28 May 2007, of the Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism's work in addressing and removing obstacles to the implementation of that accord.
The Council took note of measures to improve economic governance and the transparency and accountability of public institutions. It encouraged the authorities to remain committed to those measures and to completing the reforms agreed on in Arusha in 2000, Pretoria in 2003 and Dar es Salaam in 2006. The Council also welcomed the revival of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the Great Lakes Conference process and Burundi's upcoming formal accession to the East African Community.
Beginning at 4:10 p.m., the meeting ended at 4:20 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2007/16 reads as follows:
"The Security Council welcomes the recent political developments in Burundi, whereby the Government has taken a number of corrective steps aimed at promoting dialogue, national reconciliation and social harmony. It also takes note with appreciation of the measures taken to improve economic governance and the transparency and accountability of public institutions. It encourages the authorities to remain committed to pursuing these measures and to completing the reforms agreed upon in the agreements reached in Arusha in 2000, in Pretoria in 2003 and in Dar es Salaam in 2006, and calls on all Burundian political stakeholders to maintain the spirit of dialogue, consensus-building and inclusiveness, including in addressing the issue of power-sharing in an equitable manner, that enabled them to achieve a successful transition in their country.
"The Security Council welcomes the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) and the support it provides to the peace-consolidation process.
"The Security Council commends the efforts undertaken by the African Union Special Task Force and the South African Facilitation, in support of the Dar es Salaam Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement of 7 September 2006. The Security Council calls on both parties to pursue their efforts to resolve outstanding issues in a spirit of cooperation. It welcomes the resumption of the work of the Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism on 28 May 2007 in order to address and remove the obstacles in the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. It encourages in particular the Government of Burundi to remain committed to finding a political solution to the current deadlock, and urges the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL) to fulfil expeditiously their obligations under the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. It also invites BINUB and the African Union to continue to support these efforts.
"The Security Council urges the Government to intensify its efforts on all aspects of reform of the security sector and to address the issue of human rights abuses committed by members of the security services, including by bringing perpetrators to justice, and encourages international partners, including BINUB in accordance with its mandate, to increase their support for this endeavour.
"The Security Council urges the Government to step up its efforts to combat impunity and to promote and protect human rights, paying in this context particular attention to reducing the high level of gender-based violence and of violence against children. It encourages the Secretary-General and the Burundian authorities to pursue their dialogue with a view to agreeing on the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism based on the highest standards of justice and international human rights.
"The Security Council recalls the conclusions of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict pertaining to parties in the situation of armed conflict in Burundi (S/2007/92), and calls upon the Government of Burundi and all parties, as well as United Nations agencies and donor Governments, to cooperate with the Working Group with a view to following up on those conclusions.
"The Security Council welcomes the briefing by the Chair of the Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission on its activities relating to Burundi and, in this context, encourages the Government of Burundi and BINUB to work closely with all stakeholders in order to devise a sound strategic framework to foster the commitment of the Government of Burundi and all its partners to the priorities for consolidating peace in Burundi. The Security Council stresses the need to ensure broad national ownership of the Strategic Framework, and looks forward to receiving further advice on Burundi from the Peacebuilding Commission, particularly on those issues covered by the Strategic Framework. It welcomes the outcome of the round table convened by the Government with the support of the United Nations on 24 and 25 May in Bujumbura, and urges donors to disburse the funds pledged at this occasion.
"The Security Council welcomes the revival of the Economic Community of the Countries of the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL), the Great Lakes Conference process and the upcoming formal accession of Burundi to the East African Community. It also welcomes the Government's commitment to the ratification of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region at the next parliamentary session. It encourages Burundi and all countries in the region to sustain their efforts to foster peace, stability and mutually beneficial development."
The Security Council had before it the Secretary-General's first report on the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) of 17 May, which covers major developments since 28 November 2006, including the launching of the Office on 1 January and the implementation status of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, signed on 7 September 2006 by the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL).
According to the report (document S/2007/287), major developments on the ground include the successful conclusion on 31 December 2006 of the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), of which the South African battalion was re-hatted on 29 December to form the core of the African Union Special Task Force to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. Most of ONUB's assets were transferred to BINUB as at 30 April, and the liquidation of ONUB is expected to have been completed by 30 June.
The report says BINUB has focused, in its initial phase, on establishing an overall structure to ensure a cohesive approach to peace consolidation, including the development of an integrated peace-consolidation support strategy for 2007-2008, incorporating the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2005-2007. Within that Framework, joint thematic programmes are currently being finalized in the areas of peace and governance, security sector reform, small arms and human rights.
On political developments, the report notes a reduction in tensions that characterized the last months of 2006. The Government took corrective steps to promote greater dialogue and enhance social cohesion and, on 15 January, the Supreme Court acquitted former transitional President Domitien Ndayizeye, former transitional Vice-President Alphonse-Marie Kadege and three others detained in connection with an alleged coup plot. However, two others were convicted, despite the lack of evidence to support the plot allegations.
Relations between the Government and the media improved following the acquittal and release of three journalists accused of threatening national security, the report states. In January, Dieudonné Ngowembona was dismissed from his post as Minister for Planning and National Reconstruction for his handling of the controversial sale of the presidential plane during his term as Minister for Finance, and the Government took additional steps towards ending corruption and improving economic governance.
Underscoring the essential importance of the Government and its national partners continuing to engage in dialogue as they address the challenges that will inevitably arise in the peace-consolidation process, the Secretary-General commends the Government's stated commitment to moving the process forward and its intention to accommodate FNL demands. By addressing obstacles to peace transparently and within the framework of the law, Burundian leaders can ensure that progress made to date will not be compromised. However, the country continues to face enormous challenges, particularly the current impasse in implementing the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. It is essential that this final phase of the peace process be successfully concluded without delay.
On the regional level, the Secretary-General notes that the revival of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries and Burundi's formal accession to the East African Community in July should further advance regional integration and provide important development opportunities. The Government's engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission contributes to peace consolidation, and the efforts of the Regional Peace Initiative for Burundi, the South Africa Facilitation and the African Union have been instrumental in helping the Burundian parties carry the peace process forward.
The Secretary-General stresses that a solid foundation for stability will require significant progress in security sector reform, including focused and sustained training and equipment, and ensuring civilian control of the Armed Forces. The Burundi National Police should also be provided with the necessary resources to fulfil its internal security responsibilities. Training in human rights standards is also essential for future national stability.
Durable peace will depend on how Burundians reconcile themselves with the consequences of their tragic past and forge a shared future, the Secretary-General stresses, expressing the hope that a common understanding between the Government and the United Nations can soon be reached on transitional justice issues. That would allow negotiations on the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission and a special tribunal based on the highest standards of justice and international human rights, an end to which the United Nations will pursue a principled but constructive and pragmatic engagement.
For information media - not an official record