Press Releases

    22 December 2005

    Security Council Extends Mandate of UN Operation in Burundi until 1 July 2006, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1650 (2005)

    Welcomes Readiness of Secretary-General to Continue Discussions with Government on Gradual Disengagement of Peacekeeping Presence

    NEW YORK, 21 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) until 1 July 2006, and welcomed the readiness of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to continue consulting with the Government on a gradual disengagement of the peacekeeping presence and an adjustment to its mandate.

    Unanimously adopting resolution 1650 (2005) and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council also authorized, subject to conditions laid out in the text, the temporary redeployment of military and civilian police personnel among ONUB and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and requested the Secretary-General to begin consultations with the countries contributing military and civilian police personnel to those missions.

    In doing so, the Council underlined that any such personnel redeployed would continue to be counted against the authorized ceiling on military and civilian personnel of the mission from which they were being transferred, and that any such transfer would not have the effect of extending the deployment of personnel after the expiration of the mandate of their original mission, unless the Council decided otherwise.

    The latest Secretary-General's report on ONUB (document S/2005/728) proposed that the military component of the Operation could begin its drawdown in December with the withdrawal of one national contingent.  With the completion of that withdrawal, the remainder of the ONUB force would remain temporarily deployed in the three border provinces.  The ONUB could also continue to monitor and enhance security along the border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to actively deter cross-border illicit activities.

    While it was envisaged that the withdrawal of the ONUB force could, at the request of the Government, be completed in the second half of 2006, a detailed drawdown plan for the remaining approximately 3,000 ONUB troops would be developed after a joint assessment to be carried out by ONUB and the National Defence Force in January 2006.  The Council looked forward to receiving the report on that assessment by 15 March 2006, according to the resolution adopted today.

    The meeting began at 5:53 p.m. and ended at 5:57 p.m.

    Council Resolution

    The full text of resolution 1650 (2005) reads, as follows:

    "The Security Council,

    "Recalling its resolutions and the statements by its President 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 among States in the region,

    "Congratulating the people of Burundi for the successful conclusion of the transitional period and the peaceful transfer of authority to representative and democratically elected government and institutions,

    "Expressing its gratitude to the States of the Regional Initiative for peace in Burundi, the African Union and the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for their significant contribution to the success of the political transition,

    "Encouraging the new authorities and all Burundian political actors to continue on the course of stability and national reconciliation and to promote social concord in their country, while recognizing that numerous challenges remain to be addressed,

    "Stressing the need to put in place the reforms provided for in the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi,

    "Encouraging in particular the Burundian authorities to continue to work with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, including on the establishment of the mixed Truth Commission and the Special Chamber within the court system of Burundi referred to in resolution 1606 of 20 June 2005,

    "Reiterating its support for ONUB, which continues to have an important role to play in support of the Government's efforts towards the consolidation of peace,

    "Recognizing the important role of the Partners Forum established during the New York summit on Burundi on 13 September 2005, in the consolidation of peace and reconciliation in Burundi and in supporting reform being undertaken by the Government,

    "Encouraging the Government to work with its international partners, in particular with a view to mobilizing assistance for the reconstruction of the country,

    "Taking note of the position of the Government on the evolution of ONUB's mandate, as presented to the Council on 30 November 2005 by Mrs. Antoinette Batumubwira, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation, and recorded in the letter to the President of the Security Council dated 23 November 2005 (S/2005/736),

    "Taking note of the report of the Security Council mission which visited the region of Central Africa from 4 to 11 November 2005 (S/2005/716), and endorsing its recommendations,

    "Expressing its serious concern at the continuation of hostilities by the Forces nationales de liberation-Palipehutu (FNL), and at the threat they pose to civilians,

    "Noting that although there has been an improvement in the security situation since the completion of the transitional period, factors of instability remain in Burundi and in the Great Lakes region of Africa, 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.   Takes note of the Secretary-General's fifth report on ONUB, dated 21 November 2005 (S/2005/728), and in particular of the recommendations in its paragraphs 57 to 60;

    "2.   Decides to extend the mandate of the ONUB until 1 July 2006;

    "3.   Welcomes the readiness expressed by the Secretary-General to continue to consult closely with the Government of Burundi, with a view to determining, on the basis of the recommendations referred to in the letter dated 23 November 2005, the modalities for implementing a gradual disengagement of the United Nations' peacekeeping presence and of an adjustment to its mandate, taking into account all the circumstances, as well as the merits of a United Nations contribution and support to the consolidation of peace in Burundi;

    "4.   Looks forward to receiving the Secretary-General's report on the joint assessment mentioned in paragraph 60 of his fifth report on ONUB, by 15 March 2006;

    "5.   Authorizes, subject to the following conditions, the temporary redeployment of military and civilian police personnel among ONUB and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), taking into account the need to ensure effective performance of the current mandates of those missions, and requests in this regard the Secretary-General to begin consultations with the countries contributing military and civilian police personnel to those missions:

    (a)   the Secretary-General shall receive prior agreement of the countries contributing military and civilian police personnel and of the governments concerned,

    (b)   he shall inform the Security Council in advance of his intention to make such a redeployment, and in particular of its proposed scope and duration,

    (c)   any such redeployment shall require a corresponding prior decision of the Security Council,

    "6.   Underlines that any personnel redeployed in accordance with paragraph 5 above shall continue to be counted against the authorized ceiling on military and civilian personnel of the mission from which they are being transferred, and that any such transfer shall not have the effect of extending the deployment of personnel after the expiration of the mandate of their original mission, unless the Security Council decides otherwise;

    "7.   Urges the Government to complete the implementation of the programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, including the effective reintegration of former combatants;

    "8.   Welcomes the willingness shown by the Government to achieve a peaceful solution with the Palipehutu-FNL, and reiterates its call upon this movement to join the peace and national reconciliation process without further delays or conditions, and its intention to consider appropriate measures that might be taken against those individuals who threaten this process;

    "9.   Expresses its deep concern at the violations of human rights reported by the Secretary-General, and urges the Government and other parties concerned to take the necessary steps to prevent further violations and to ensure that those responsible for such violations are brought to justice without delay;

    "10.  Urges the international partners for the development of Burundi, including the concerned bodies of the United Nations, to continue to provide their support for the reconstruction of the country, particularly through an active participation in the donors conference to be organized in early 2006;

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


    As the Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Burundi, it had before it the fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) (document S/2005/728), in which the Secretary-General recommends extensions of the mission's mandate until 31 May 2006 while its military strength is being adjusted.

    In light of "remarkable progress" achieved towards a durable peace in the country 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, resulting 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 Secretary-General makes his recommendations after a multidisciplinary United Nations assessment mission visited Burundi from 16 to 23 October to evaluate the security situation on the ground, the overall peace consolidation and national recovery process, and the role 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 return of refugees increased.  However, despite efforts of the Government and international partners, the PALIPEHUTU-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, it would take measures to bring it to the negotiating table, willingly or by force.  The Secretary-General recommends that, 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.

    The report notes that a mission of the Security Council 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 Constitutions.  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 primarily focus 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 bringing an end to impunity to ensure accountability for atrocities committed 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 needs to be part of a broader effort to strengthen Burundi's criminal system.  Expressing concern about the continuing and increasing human rights violations perpetrated against innocent civilians, he urges the Government to address that issue as a matter of priority and to bring perpetrators to justice.

    The Secretary-General notes that the economic and social crisis remains dangerously acute, while the expectations of the population have been heightened following the elections.  The expected influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons presents also 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.  (The 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 order to support the Government's efforts to consolidate peace and promote recovery and development in Burundi.  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 through stemming corruption and ensuring accountable management of public funds, the Secretary-General states that such transparency will be essential for reinforcing sovereignty and credibility of the Government, maintaining donor confidence and promoting long-term economic and social recovery and stability.  He appeals to the 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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