23 September 2005
Security Council Encourages Establishment of "Partners Forum" for Peace, Reconciliation in Burundi "as Soon as Possible"
Presidential Statement also Calls for Forum to Support Government Reforms, Enhance Donor Coordination
NEW YORK, 22 September (UN Headquarters) -- Welcoming the decision by the Summit on Burundi, held last week in New York, to establish a forum of Burundi's partners, the Security Council today encouraged the Secretary-General's Special Representative to conclude discussions with all concerned parties in order to establish the forum as soon as possible.
In a statement read out by its President Lauro L. Baja (Philippines), the Council took note of the Secretary-General's special report on the situation in Burundi (document S/2005/586), in particular the proposal to establish a partners' forum as an international support mechanism, as well as the Declaration adopted on 13 September during the Summit on Burundi, co-chaired by the Secretary-General and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in his capacity as Chairman of the Regional Peace Initiative for Burundi.
In the report, the Secretary-General notes that at the Summit meeting participants, marking the installation of Burundi's new Government, agreed in principle on the establishment of the proposed international support mechanism as a "Forum of Partners" to support efforts to consolidate peace and promote development in Burundi. They also agreed that the forum's composition and mandate would be further elaborated in consultation with Burundi's Government.
Calling on the donor community to support Burundi, the Council said the forum should work with the country's Government in consolidating peace and national reconciliation, supporting reforms being undertaken by the Government and in enhancing donor coordination. It should work in close coordination with the Peacebuilding Commission once it is operational.
The meeting began at 12:15 p.m. and concluded at 12:18 p.m.
Following is the text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/43:
"The Security Council took note of the Secretary-General's special report on the situation in Burundi (S/2005/586) dated 14 September 2005, in particular the proposal to establish a partners' forum as an international support mechanism.
"The Security Council also took note of the Declaration adopted on 13 September 2005 in New York during the Summit on Burundi, co-chaired by the Secretary-General and the President of the Republic of Uganda, in his capacity as Chairman of the Regional Peace Initiative for Burundi.
"The Security Council welcomes the decision taken during the Summit to establish a forum of Burundi's partners and encourages the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to conclude discussions with all concerned partners in order to establish the forum as soon as possible.
"The forum should work with the Government of Burundi in consolidating peace and national reconciliation in Burundi, supporting reforms being undertaken by the Government and in enhancing donor coordination, and work in close coordination with the Peacebuilding Commission once it is operational.
"The Security Council also reiterates its call to the donor community to pursue bilateral and multilateral efforts to support the country."
The Security Council met today to consider the situation in Burundi. It had before it a special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Office in Burundi (UNOB) (document S/2005/586), which covers major developments since May, with particular focus on the successful conclusion of the transitional process and proposed international arrangements for the provision of support to the country's newly elected Government.
The report notes that the successful conduct of national elections, the inauguration of a democratically elected President and the conclusion of the transitional process mark truly historic milestones for Burundi. Despite many fears and prejudices, the great majority of Burundians actively participated in the electoral process, voting resoundingly for peace in the country. The Secretary-General congratulates President Nkurunziza on his election and is encouraged by the inclusive, conciliatory approach he has demonstrated so far. The nomination of two Vice-Presidents and Cabinet members reflect the spirit of the Arusha Agreement and broadly comply with constitutionally mandated ethnic and gender balances in the Government.
Despite progress achieved in consolidating peace, significant challenges remain, the report continues. Reconstruction, development, job creation, the rehabilitation of the nation's health and education sectors, the promotion of reconciliation and putting an end to impunity, as well as the conclusion of the security sector and judicial reform programmes and ensuring sound governance, are some of the key areas that will require sustained and enhanced international engagement and donor support. Furthermore, the transparent and accountable management of State revenues will be critical in maintaining donor confidence, promoting development and ensuring long-term stability in the country.
The report states that the early establishment of an international support mechanism as a partners' forum for Burundi would be an important demonstration of the international community's continued commitment to supporting the Burundian people following the conclusion of the transition. While consultations on modalities are continuing, the proposed mechanism should support the reform processes currently under way, including those relating to the security sector, the judiciary and land ownership. It should also address civilian disarmament issues and the management of large-scale refugee returns, ensure coordination among donors for reconstruction and development funding, support national efforts to consolidate peace through reconciliation and assure the people of Burundi of the international community's commitment to ensuring democratic, transparent and accountable governance.
According to the report, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Burundi would chair the mechanism, which would be supported by a small secretariat drawn from existing ONUB resources. The mechanism would include representatives of the Regional Initiative, the international donor community, the African Union and the United Nations. It would convene monthly and hold joint meetings regularly with Burundi's Government. Technical subcommittees reporting to the Chairperson would be established as required to address specific thematic issues.
The report explains that on 13 September, the Secretary-General, together with the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, chaired a meeting with the Heads of State of Burundi and the Regional Initiative, as well as representatives of the African Union, donors and other international stakeholders. Marking the installation of the new Government, the participants agreed in principle on the establishment of the proposed international support mechanism as a "Forum of Partners" to support efforts to consolidate peace and promote development in Burundi. It was also agreed that the mandate and composition of such a forum would be further elaborated in consultation with Burundi's Government.
The Secretary-General notes that the establishment of such a mechanism would be in line with the recommendations contained in his "In Larger Freedom" report of March 2005 with regard to sustained support for post-conflict peacebuilding. Should the Secretary-General's proposal for a Peacebuilding Commission be agreed upon by Member States, Burundi would be most appropriate for early consideration by the commission. [At the conclusion of the 2005 World Summit on 16 September, the General Assembly agreed to establish a Peacebuilding Commission, which would begin its work no later than 31 December.]
A key challenge confronting the new Government will be the restoration of peace and stability in those areas where violent confrontations are ongoing, the report says. Despite the promising contacts between the Transitional Government and the FNL (Front national de libération) initiated under the auspices of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, negotiations have not produced tangible results. Regrettably, the FNL continues to actively recruit combatants and perpetrate acts of violence. Clashes also continue between the National Defence Force and the FNL, adversely affecting civilians in Bujumbura Rural and Bubanza provinces. He calls on the FNL to act without further delay and in good faith to reach a peaceful settlement.
The Secretary-General notes his intention, as requested by Council resolution 1602 (2005), to provide recommendations by 15 November on the size and mandate of the Mission in the post-transitional phase in the country. Those recommendations will be based on an overall assessment of the situation in Burundi following the conclusion of the transition, to be conducted in the coming weeks. Priority areas requiring continued United Nations support will be identified, as well as the key benchmarks that would guide the implementation of the exit strategy for ONUB. Given the historic fragility marking post-electoral periods in Burundi, the Secretary-General does not at the current stage anticipate recommending an immediate reduction in the Mission's military strength, while the civilian component of ONUB will obviously undergo the necessary adjustments.
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