Press Releases

    1 December 2005

    Security Council Adopts Text Extending Mandate of United Nations Operation in Burundi until 15 January 2006

    Resolution 1641 (2005) Notes Remaining Factors of Instability

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council, noting that factors of instability remaining in Burundi constituted a threat to the region's international peace and security, today decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) until 15 January 2006.

    Reaffirming its strong commitment to Burundi's sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity, the Council took that decision by unanimously adopting resolution 1641 (2005) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

    Speaking before the action, Antoinette Batumubwira, Burundi's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that since ONUB's deployment on 1 June 2004, it had provided exceptional support to the country's electoral and democratic process.  Three months ago, after 10 years of political crisis, Burundi had welcomed a democratically elected President, marking the last phase in a long road which, through negotiations, transition and then elections, had led to the establishment of new political institutions from top to bottom.  Those institutions now faced the challenge of ensuring sustainable development and reconstruction.

    Developments in Burundi had resulted from united efforts, she said.  Above all, they had been the result of the great political maturity demonstrated by the people of Burundi in choosing peace, which now extended throughout the national territory except for a few pockets of crime in rural Bujumbura, Cibitoke and Bubanza.  Some of the crime was a result of banditry and mutilations by members of the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL), which had refused to join the other people of Burundi in seeking reconstruction and development.  The security forces were working hard to end those actions, which could destabilize the peace achieved at such a great cost.

    The results had been encouraging, she said, noting that some 707 FNL members had left the movement and rejoined their families during November.  While the security situation was now under control, concern remained about armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    On the economic front, she said Burundi was emerging from a long period of economic crisis and stagnation.  A certain sense of confidence had re-emerged and there had been an increase in the collection of taxes and custom duties.  The elimination of debt would enable the country to devote its financial resources to development and there was an urgent need for budgetary support to facilitate the attainment of that goal by the end of the year.  A document containing priorities for reconstruction and development would be presented at a donor conference in February 2006.  However, there was an urgent need to strengthen multilateral agencies so they could shift from humanitarian to development support.  There had also been encouraging signs in terms of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, which would be based on a new operational framework headed by a national commission.

    She said that an analysis of ONUB's new mandate had been carried out and its gradual disengagement, starting in January 2006, had been recommended.  Burundi wished to see its mandate include monitoring of the borders between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, support for the completion of the disengagement, demobilization and reconciliation process and reform of the security sector, as well as support for the promotion of human rights.  Other aspects of the mandate should include support for transitional justice with a view to the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission, protection of ONUB personnel and equipment, and demining and logistical support for humanitarian operations.

    In conclusion, she said the people of Burundi had voted in huge numbers for peace, and now awaited the dividends of peace.  All national and international efforts must be mobilized to rebuild the country and move resolutely towards sustainable development.  In that regard, Burundi counted on support from the United Nations in general and the Council in particular.

    The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 10:32 a.m.


    The full text of resolution 1641 (2005) reads as follows:

    "The Security Council,

    "Recalling its relevant resolutions on Burundi and in particular resolution 1545 of 21 May 2004,

    "Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Burundi, and recalling the importance of the principles of good-neighbourliness, non-interference and cooperation in the relations between States in the region,

    "Noting that factors of instability remain in Burundi, which continue to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

    "Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

    "1. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) until 15 January 2006;

    "2. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."


    As the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Burundi, it had before it the Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (document S/2005/728), in which he recommends the extension of the Mission's mandate until 31 May 2006, pending adjustment of its military strength.

    In light of "remarkable progress" towards a durable peace in the five years since the signing of the Arusha Agreement, the Secretary-General proposes that the military component of ONUB could begin its phased drawdown in December, to be completed from April to June 2006.  That would result in a reduction of approximately 2,000 personnel, or 40 per cent of the current authorized military strength.  The number of military observers should be reduced from 200 to 120 by the end of April 2006, while the police component could be reduced from 120 personnel to 15 police trainers.  The recommendations follow a visit to Burundi by a multidisciplinary United Nations assessment mission from 16 to 23 October which evaluated the security situation on the ground, the overall peace-consolidation and national-recovery process, and the role that the Organization could play in support of those efforts in the next phase. 

    The report states that since May, further steps were taken to advance the peace process, including the successful conduct of elections at the colline (village) level, and progress in the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants.  The rate of refugee return increased, but despite efforts by the Government and international partners, the Palepehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) has remained outside the peace process.  In that regard, the Government announced on 6 October that, unless the armed group agreed to enter into negotiations before 31 October, measures would be taken to bring it to the negotiating table, willingly or by force.  Should no tangible progress be achieved, the Council and the region might wish to give due consideration to the use of targeted measures against those among the FNL leaders who continue to obstruct a peaceful solution.

    According to the report, a Security Council mission visited Bujumbura on 8 and 9 November as part of the Council's sixth visit to the Great Lakes region since 2000.  The mission encouraged all stakeholders to continue to work together in a spirit of dialogue and consensus and to respect the principle of power-sharing enshrined in the Constitution.  The Burundi Government noted that reconstruction, development, good governance, human rights and the return of refugees were key priorities and that the United Nations should focus primarily on providing reconstruction and development assistance.  The Council mission cautioned against a hasty drawdown of ONUB.

    In his report, the Secretary-General observes that, after decades of inter-ethnic conflict, reconciliation and ending to impunity to ensure accountability for atrocities are critical elements in laying a sound foundation for national recovery.  The United Nations stands ready to assist the Government in establishing the truth and reconciliation commission and special chamber.  However, this should be part of a broader effort to strengthen Burundi's criminal system.  In view of the continuing and increasing human rights violations perpetrated against innocent civilians, the Government is urged to address that issue as a matter of priority and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    The economic and social crisis remains dangerously acute, while the expectations of the population have been heightened following the elections, the Secretary-General notes.  The expected influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons also presents major social, economic and security challenges.  Increased and sustained international assistance will, therefore, be absolutely vital.  The Burundi Partners' Forum will provide a mechanism that can help to maintain focused international support.  (ONUB brought together representatives of the African Union, the Regional Initiative on Burundi, neighbouring countries, the United Nations and donors, on 18 October, to establish the Forum in support of the Government's efforts to consolidate peace and promote recovery and development.  The Forum could also serve as a link with the Peacebuilding Commission, expected to be established by December, should Burundi be selected for its early consideration.)

    While welcoming the Government's intention to ensure sound political and economic governance, including by stemming corruption and ensuring accountable management of public funds, the Secretary-General states that such transparency will be essential to reinforcing sovereignty and the Government's credibility, maintaining donor confidence and promoting long-term economic and social recovery and stability.  He appeals to regional and international stakeholders, as well as international donors, to remain committed to Burundi in the next critical period, including by increasing their bilateral and multilateral assistance.

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