24 March 2006
Security Council Calls for "Immediate Cessation of Hostilities and Human Rights Abuses" in Burundi
In Presidential Statement, Council Expresses Deep Concern over FNL Violence, Urges Burundian Government to Work Closely with UN Monitors to End Rights Abuses
NEW YORK, 23 March (UN Headquarters) -- Deeply concerned by continuing violence carried out by the Forces nationales de libération (FNL), by fighting between that rebel group and the Burundian army, by the human rights abuses committed by both sides, as well as by factors of instability remaining in the region, the Security Council called this afternoon for the immediate cessation of hostilities and human rights abuses.
In a statement read out by César Mayoral (Argentina), its President for the month of March, the Council welcomed President Pierre Nkurunziza's commitment to bring those responsible for such abuses to justice and encouraged the Government of Burundi to work closely with United Nations human rights monitors to that end.
The Council welcomed recent statements by FNL leader Agathon Rwasa expressing his readiness to negotiate a final end to violence and urged both parties to seize the opportunity for negotiations to bring peace to the whole country.
Welcoming the progress made by the Government of Burundi since the completion of the transition, particularly its efforts to reduce poverty, the Council encouraged the Burundian parties to continue on the course of the reforms agreed in Arusha, while maintaining the spirit of dialogue, consensus and inclusion.
Taking note of the Secretary-General's sixth report on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), the Council approved the recommendations contained in that document and requested the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed on developments in the situation, and on ONUB's disengagement plan.
The Council encouraged the relevant United Nations agencies to continue their support for the Burundian authorities in the long term and invited the States of the Regional Initiative to continue their work with those authorities on consolidating peace in the country and the region.
This afternoon's meeting began at 1:20 p.m. and ended at 1:25 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2006/12 reads as follows:
"The Security Council has taken note of the Secretary General's sixth report on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), and approves his recommendations.
"The Security Council is deeply concerned by the continuing violence carried out by the Forces nationales de libération (FNL), and the fighting between them and the Burundian army, by the human rights abuses committed by both sides, as well as by factors of instability remaining in the region. It calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and human rights abuses. It welcomes President Nkurunziza's commitment to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses and encourages the Government of Burundi to work closely with the United Nations human rights monitors to this end.
"The Security Council welcomes the statements recently made by the FNL leader, Agathon Rwasa, in Dar es Salaam, expressing his readiness to negotiate with a view to put a final end to violence. The Council urges both parties to seize this opportunity for negotiations with a view to bringing peace to the whole country.
"The Security Council requests in this context the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed on developments in the situation, and, in consultation with the Government of Burundi, on ONUB's disengagement plan.
"The Security Council welcomes the progress made by the Government of Burundi since the completion of the transition, in particular its efforts to reduce poverty.
"The Security Council encourages the Burundian parties to continue on the course of the reforms agreed in Arusha, while maintaining the spirit of dialogue, consensus and inclusion which made possible the success of the transition in their country.
"The Security Council invites the States of the Regional Initiative to continue to work with the Burundian authorities on the consolidation of peace in the country and in the region. It encourages the international community -- including the relevant United Nations agencies -- to continue to support the Burundian authorities in the long term."
Before the Council was the Secretary-General's sixth report on the United Nations Office in Burundi (UNOB), dated 14 March, which provides an update of developments in that country since his report (document S/2005/728) of 21 November 2005.
In the present report (document S/2006/163) the Secretary-General observes that during the past seven months, the Government has focused its initial steps on enhancing longer-term prospects of peace, putting forward an ambitious legislative programme with an emphasis on enhancing security and combating corruption, supported by a budget focused on improving the delivery of social services and basic human needs. At the same time, the country faces a daunting interlinked combination of immediate and longer-term security, humanitarian, development and social challenges that will require urgent, substantial and sustained attention from the Government and its international partners. Burundi's security and economic situation remains extremely fragile, requiring massive commitment by all involved. Urgent improvements are required in the areas of good governance, transparency and accountability, as well as respect for human rights and the continuation of major economic, security and political reforms.
Continued fighting with the FNL poses a long-term threat to Burundi and the region, the report says. It impedes economic development and imposes enormous human suffering, both in humanitarian terms and in the increasing human rights abuses associated with it. Despite the commendable efforts of the United Republic of Tanzania to bring about a negotiated settlement, no progress has been achieved so far. It is imperative that the FNL leadership declare without further delay their unconditional intention to engage in good faith negotiations with the legitimate Government of Burundi. In that context it is hoped that the leaders of the Regional Initiative for Burundi and the facilitation of the Burundi peace process will reinvigorate their support in order to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion.
According to the report, the effective maintenance of internal and external security by the Burundian security forces and their respect for human rights are essential prerequisites for progress towards the socio-economic goals outlined by the Government. While there has been progress in restructuring the national security forces by integrating former belligerents, both the National Defence Force and the Burundi National Police face massive equipment and sustenance shortfalls in all areas. The implementation of an effective, comprehensive security sector reform programme, supported by well-coordinated assistance from donor States, is urgently needed. The ONUB will be working closely with the Government and its international partners in the coming months on that priority track.
The report states that while significant strides towards building peace have been made, that lengthy and arduous process will remain for some time in view of the complex and deep-seated origins of the conflict, the scope and scale of the change mandated by the peace process and the enormity of the challenges faced in all spheres. In the meantime, the principles guiding the peace process need to be sustained by a continual process of consultation and consensus-building among the various political and ethnic groups. In that regard, the representation of political parties and their inclusion in the decision-making process remains an area of concern.
The Operation's initial tasks have been completed, and priorities for support should now start shifting as the peace process moves forward, the Secretary-General states. However, given the severity of the challenges facing Burundi, and the lessons learned by the United Nations in similar post-conflict situations, the serious risks involved should not be underestimated. In the absence of solid progress in addressing many of the root causes of conflict, the possibility of a relapse remains strong. In that regard, and while collaborative planning on how better to structure the United Nations presence with the Government, the United Nations system and the international donors will continue on the assumption that the Operation will be totally withdrawn by 31 December 2006, it will be prudent to continue to monitor developments closely and assess the situation. Should the situation at that time so required, the pace of the ONUB drawdown could be adjusted accordingly in full consultation with the Government.
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