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Burundi/United Nations: Security Council Urges Peace Talks

(Nov. 19, 2015) On November 12, 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution urging all parties in the domestic unrest in Burundi to engage in peace talks. The resolution was adopted unanimously by the Council, just three days after U.N. officials noted that the political crisis in the country is at a critical point, with violence increasing. Those officials state that 200,000 Burundians have been displaced by internal conflict, and bodies are being dumped in Bujumbura, the capital city of the country. (Burundi: Security Council Calls for Political Talks to Resolve Crisis Peacefully, UN NEWS CENTRE (Nov. 12, 2015); Resolution 2248 (2015), S/RES/2248 (2015) (Nov. 12, 2015), U.N. Security Council website.)

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, commented on the situation in Burundi, stating “[t]here have been hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in the past month alone, targeting members of the opposition, journalists, human rights defenders and their families, people attending the funerals of those who have been killed, and inhabitants of neighbourhoods perceived to be supportive of the opposition.” (Burundi: Security Council Calls for Political Talks to Resolve Crisis Peacefully, supra.)

Resolution Provisions

The Resolution states in part that the Security Council:

  • calls for the government of Burundi and all parties to reject violence and any actions that threaten stability and further urges the government to “respect, protect and guarantee” human rights and freedoms; to adhere to the rule of law; to be accountable for acts of violence; and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • supports and calls on the government of Burundi to cooperate with the mediation endorsed by the African Union and led by the East African Community (EAC), under the direction of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda;
  • welcomes the U.N.’s decision to appoint a Special Advisor on Conflict Prevention, to work with the government and other concerned parties as well as sub-regional, regional, and international bodies, in an effort to achieve an inclusive dialogue in Burundi that would advance the cause of peaceful conflict resolution; and
  • intends to consider additional measures against any actor in Burundi who perpetuates violence. (Resolution 2248 (2015).)

The EAC is a “regional intergovernmental organisation of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.” (About EAC, EAC website (last visited Nov. 17, 2015).)

In addition, the Resolution calls for future monitoring of the situation by the Secretary-General, suggesting that he send a coordination team to Burundi, and asks that the Secretary-General update the Council on conditions in the country within 15 days. (Resolution 2248 (2015).)

Background

The unrest in Burundi began in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek election for a third term, a move his critics said was in violation of the country’s Constitution and the Arusha peace accord that ended a civil war in Burundi. The country’s Constitutional Court approved the candidacy, and Nkurunziza was re-elected in July. (Constance Johnson, Burundi: Court Permits Third Bid for Presidency, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 7, 2015); Burundi’s Constitution of 2005, CONSTITUTION PROJECT; Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (Aug. 28, 2000), Institute for Security Studies Africa website; Burundi: Security Council Calls for Political Talks to Resolve Crisis Peacefully, supra.)