UN integration in Burundi in the context of the peacebuilding office BINUB - Taking stock and lessons learned from Jun 2006 to Nov 2007



The peacebuilding orientation of the UN in Burundi started officially on 1 January 2007 when the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) came into being. This review starts from June 2006, when the recommendation was made to establish an integrated office and when the UN in Burundi entered a transitional phase. It stretches to November 2007 when the major planning phase ended and implementation phase started, hence its greater focus on the planning and programming phases as opposed to implementation. This study offers a synopsis of the process at a given moment examining transition and integration, peacebuilding mandate, planning, programming and implementation, up to end of November 2007.

The origins of an integrated peacebuilding office in Burundi

In November 2005, the democratically elected Government of Burundi (GoB) requested the United Nations to draw down the peacekeeping component from its ONUB operation and determine how best it could support peace consolidation and reconstruction efforts in Burundi. In March 2006, ONUB was tasked by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to sound the views of the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Burundi on the nature of United Nations presence additional to the UNCT that would be required from 1 January 2007 to consolidate the gains and maintain the momentum of peacebuilding in Burundi. A strong consensus emerged concerning the need for a follow -on structure that could sustain an adequate level of delivery in human rights, transitional justice and security sector reform, and peace and governance. A continued capacity for United Nations engagement at senior government level was also considered to be essential, as well as a strong United Nations security management structure in order to offset the departure of peacekeepers at a time when security sector reform, particularly of the police, was in its infancy.

In early May 2006, partly on the basis of the views of the UNCT, the Secretary-General's policy group recommended to the Security Council the establishment of an integrated office that would perform these functions. The recommendation was endorsed by the Government of Burundi, which in turn requested assistance, through an integrated office, in a number of specific areas. These developments were reflected in the seventh report of the Secretary-General (S/2006/429 dated 21 June 2006), and welcomed by the Security Council in its resolution 1692 (2006). Thus, on the basis of the peacebuilding priorities identified for 2007- 2008, the United Nations Integrated Office, BINUB, was established as a mechanism to bring a coherent and coordinated response of the UN to peace consolidation challenges in Burundi and to harness the collective capacities of the UN System in an integrated and coherent manner. It is an interim arrangement to allow for a smooth transition from peacekeeping towards a development-focused engagement by the UN. BINUB's mandate is part of the larger framework of UN peacebuilding activities in Burundi and it reflects the change of operation from under the UN Charter's Chapter VII to Chapter VI.

The GoB's five-year programme (2005-2010) provided an overview of the short and medium-term priorities which should be addressed in order to create the conditions for sustainable development in Burundi. The programme provides for short-term measures critical for consolidating peace, creating conditions for longerterm initiatives, and defining priorities for reviving economic growth and ensuring public welfare. These priorities were further developed and incorporated in the Burundi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper -PRSP- (2007-2010) through a broad -based consultative process. Together, the PRSP and the five-year programme constitute the overall programmatic framework that guides peacebuilding efforts and helps ensure appropriate linkages with longer-term development needs in Burundi.

The United Nations system in Burundi supported the GoB in developing a priority plan for peacebuilding (2006). It served as the basis for the allocation of US$ 35 million by the United Nations Secretary-General, drawn from the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). The priority plan identified the following areas, which were endorsed by the PBC in October 2006: (a) good governance; (b) strengthening of the rule of law within security forces; (c) strengthening of justice, promotion of human rights, reconciliation and the fight against impunity; and (d) the land issue, particularly in the context of the reintegration of affected populations and community-based recovery especially aimed at women, the youth and affected populations.

Subsequently, the GoB initiated the process of developing the Strategic Framework for Peace Consolidation in February 2007. Consultations were launched to solicit inputs from the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and key stakeholders on the ground (civil society organizations, the private sector, religious communities, political parties, UN agencies and bilateral and multilateral partners). They resulted in a consensus that the Strategic Framework will guide the engagement and dialogue between the GoB, other stakeholders and the PBC in search for sustainable peace in Burundi. The Burundi configuration of the PBC contributed to the development of the strategic framework through a series of informal thematic meetings and a visit of a PBC delegation to Burundi in April 2007. With the country funding envelope confirmed, the development and approval of project activities is being conducted in Burundi in a process co-managed by the Government of Burundi and BINUB who co-chair the Burundi Joint PBF Steering Committee.