Security Council meeting 3623

Date29 January 1996
S-PV-3623 1996-01-29 15:55 29 January 1996 [[29 January]] [[1996]] /

The situation in Burundi Letter dated 29 December 1995 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1995/1068) Letter dated 16 January 1996 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1996/36)

The meeting was called to order at 3.55 p.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in Burundi

Letter dated 29 December 1995 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1995/1068)
Letter dated 16 January 1996 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1996/36)
The President

I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Burundi and Zaire in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Terence (Burundi) took a seat at the Council table; Mr. Lukabu Khabouji N’Zaji (Zaire) took the seat reserved for him at the side of the Council Chamber.
The President

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.

Members of the Council have before them documents S/1995/1068 and S/1996/36, which contain the texts of two letters, dated 29 December 1995 and 16 January 1996 respectively, from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council.

Members of the Council also have before them document S/1996/56, which contains the text of a draft resolution prepared in the course of the Council’s prior consultations.

I should like to draw the attention of the members of the Council to document S/1996/40, which contains the text of a letter dated 18 January 1996 from the Permanent Representative of Burundi to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council.

The first speaker is the representative of Burundi, on whom I now call.

Mr. Terence (Burundi)

First of all, it is my duty to acknowledge the special treatment you have shown me, Mr. President, during the many meetings I have had with you. This was traditional, refined British diplomacy: courtesy, civility and availability, which are the key qualities of any professional diplomat. I also recall my meetings with your predecessor, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, to whom I am grateful for the same treatment, from which I benefited last month.

Since this is the first time this year that I have addressed the Security Council formally, it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the new members: Chile, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Poland and the Republic of Korea. We believe that Egypt, the only Arabic-speaking member of the Council, can as usual be counted upon to speak Africa’s political language.

spoke in French
Mr. Terence (Burundi)

For almost two years now, the Security Council has been thinking long and hard about Burundi. Many reports have been submitted on my country. This is the first time that there has been a public debate about Burundi, and so I take this opportunity to give my Government’s version of the facts.

First, with regard to the draft resolution, I should like to say that the Government of Burundi has every right to find out from the sponsors exactly what that text means, and it appears to us that paragraph 8 (a) causes some confusion and is open to various interpretations. Before speaking in depth on the text, I would request members to prepare their responses during my statement, so that there is no room for doubt. I therefore leave the matter there for the moment.

In fact, while the general situation is indeed serious and cause for concern, the security situation has noticeably improved compared with previous months; there are many facts to support this conclusion. Formerly, grenades were being thrown at passers-by in the markets, not in defence of any political cause, but, rather, by people indulging in banditry. The forces of law of order put a stop to this several months ago. For a long time, armed bands terrorized several districts of the capital. On the orders of the Head of State and Government, the Army has smashed and routed these terrorists.

The sanctuary of the armed bandits in the forest surrounding the capital, who habitually created havoc in the suburbs and killed travellers or held them to ransom, was assaulted and taken by the national Army.

Three groups of terrorists — armed Burundi bandits, former Rwandan troops and the Interahamwe, their secular arm in the macabre deeds of 1994 — had earlier converged near the Province of Cibitoke, bordering on Zaire. In recent weeks the Army has rendered impotent this devilish trio of troublemakers. These desperate individuals are now only capable of engaging in sporadic attacks — not in a gallant last stand, but merely to pillage in order to survive in certain areas where there are no forces to impose order. The population is strongly demanding a military presence, as a Minister who visited the Province last week reported.

Hidden in two refugee camps in the north-east of the country, assailants have tried to sow terror by opening fire on the security forces, but the security forces within the camps in question have neutralized or put to flight the aggressors. This episode in the Burundian crisis has unfortunately resulted in a massive exodus of Rwandan refugees towards Tanzania. The commander of that military region and the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have published a joint statement, attesting to their efforts to persuade the refugees to return to their camps.

The leader of the armed groups, Nyangoma, is vociferously disavowed in his own commune, by his own associates, who urge radio and television to announce that they are no longer in solidarity with him. This collective request at the commune level was officially made to the Government.

For two weeks now the entire Government — that is, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and 25 Ministers, have been travelling through the country’s 15 Provinces and 114 communes to rally the population to the side of the Administration and the security forces in their campaign against the violent fanatics. The most striking proof that security is guaranteed throughout the Republic is the fact that none of the hundreds of political, administrative and military authorities involved have been confronted by any of the armed bands. In short, no danger has been reported in their journey or during their public meetings throughout the 114 communes.

In the crusade by the whole Government against the armed bands, President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya held a public meeting in the Province of Kirundo, in the north of the country, on Sunday, 28 January 1996. His message focused on

“the immediate need for cooperation between the population, the Administration and the forces of law and order".

He took this opportunity to reiterate his gratitude to the forces of law and order for their efforts in fighting the enemy in the area. He was accompanied by the President of the National Assembly and by the President of the Frodebu Party, the leader of the presidential movement.

International opinion has been polarized regarding the dangers to the security of international humanitarian organizations. A technical mission is to hasten to Burundi to evaluate the risks to United Nations personnel and facilities. During the 28 months that this crisis has lasted, no United Nations personnel have been victims of lack of security, no office in the many buildings of the United Nations system in Burundi has been damaged.

International opinion in general, and the Security Council in particular, are flooded with information about an imminent cataclysm in Burundi. As is clear from the introductory paragraph of the letter of 18 January 1996 communicating to the President of the Security Council the official position of my Government in answer to the three letters of the Secretary-General, of 29 December 1995, 3 January 1996 and 17 January 1996, the seriousness of the crisis is a reality. Nevertheless, it is far from having culminated in an apocalyptic summit. Certainly, armed bands have threatened to jeopardize the work of humanitarian organizations.

In answer to the letters from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, an avalanche of media fantasies has descended on Burundi. The article by Thomas L. Friedman published by The New York Times on 24 January 1996 constitutes the archetype of this type of systematic propaganda campaign directed against my country. In his sensationalism, the author headed his article:

“The next Rwanda — Burundi on the edge of an abyss”.

Behaving like a new explorer of terra incognita, exactly 125 years after the historical meeting between Livingston and Stanley in 1871 in the outskirts of the capital of Burundi, he studs his article not only with falsehoods, but with monstrosities. Thus he claims that there are 15 per cent Tutsis and 85 per cent Hutus, while in living memory Burundi has never, unlike other States, had such a census of its national make-up. In another paragraph he claims that Hutu rebels occupy parts of the territory, while in fact these rebels and armed bands do not even occupy a single square kilometre. In yet another paragraph he claims that Mrs. Albright — when one speaks of the sun, one sees its rays, and I see her coming into the Chamber now — met with generals of the Burundi Army. I declare to the entire world that the Burundi Army has no general, unless someone was promoted in honour of Mrs. Albright’s visit.

I turn to the question of political disturbances. Imputing continued lack of security to a lack of firmness on the part of the Government, several opposition political movements withdrew their confidence in the President of the Republic and several trade unions called a strike in the capital. These initiatives call for the resignation of the Head of State. On the other hand, three opposition political parties have withdrawn their backing for the attacks against the President of the Republic, and the strike had only weak support and lasted for only a few working days.

Thanks to the redoubled vigilance and effectiveness of the forces of law and order, those who wanted the President of the Republic to step down and the organizers of the strike faced the impossibility of implementing their plans. All acts of violence were nipped in the bud, and no major incidents occurred.

With respect to the analogy between Rwanda and Burundi, in certain national and international circles the tendency to raise the spectre of genocide has taken precedence over the determination or ability to root out its causes. A fundamental distinction needs to be made between the perpetrators of the genocide carried out in Rwanda and the followers or authors of that scourge in Burundi. In Rwanda, the Government and the Rwandese armed forces conceived, planned, organized and carried out the genocide against the Tutsi community. In Burundi, the country’s army and the coalition Government, which represented national communities and 12 political parties, banded together against the terrorist groups that were determined to carry out Rwandese-style genocide.

However, a parallel does exist between the techniques used by the former Rwandese regime to remain in power and those employed by Burundi terrorists in their quest for such power. The favourite targets of these terrorists are the State’s Convention on Government, which stipulates the division of power, the coalition Government itself and all other political institutions stemming from this multipartite agreement. The Government and the army of Burundi have together been actively working to thwart the access to, and the use of, power through the revolting practice of genocide. United Nations troops are described in glowing terms, and credence is given to the notion that they are working for the salvation of the people of Burundi. Meanwhile, however, the obvious truth is ignored: that the genocide in Rwanda was carried out in the presence of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), which not only stood by, powerless, but then hastened to pack up and leave.

In his letter contained in document S/1996/36 of 16 January 1996, the Secretary-General refers to a certain difference of opinion within the Government of Burundi regarding the deployment of military contingents. This sentiment was echoed by a number of foreign dignitaries, following their separate meetings with several high officials of our country. However, the envoys of States and of international organizations must place in their proper context preferences and opinions that are merely personal in nature, when they are expressed during informal conversations — even by Heads of State or Government, their Ministers or political leaders. These differ from the collective positions of the Government, which bear an official seal. Moreover, would it not be unjust to demand of the Government of Burundi the same political miracle that has failed to materialize in all the other countries facing crises that are just as horrendous as, or even more so than, ours? According to the great German philosopher Hegel, history teaches us that man learns nothing from history. By taking the opposite tack, by affirming that man learns everything from history, each member State of the Security Council will recall a universally accepted reality.

At one time or another in the course of their historical development, all countries have had to cope with internal conflicts, with civil wars, even with inter-State or world wars. Never has full unanimity been achieved within Governments or among chiefs of staff called upon to decide on policies to be adopted or strategies to be used. In most cases, positions were so entrenched and cacophony so dominant that, even with the survival of their nations at stake, political and military leaders were forced to resign or go into exile, or were even executed. Compared with such cases, many in number, Burundi could rather be put forward as a model. Although politically heterogeneous, since it is made up of 12 political parties, our Government has been able to retain the essential elements of solidarity. A few key facts illustrate this.

Under the aegis of the President of the Republic and the leader of the Executive branch, all Government members joined together against the warmongers. Following the example of the Head of State and the Prime Minister, every Minister has travelled all over the country in order to alert the people to the imperative need to work hand in hand for peace, together with the security forces and the public administration, against armed bands. By means of this campaign devoted to peace and security, the Government is sending the same message throughout the country. So too — contrary to certain prognostications made privately by certain foreign parties — the coalition Government unanimously rejects military intervention in Burundi, as attested to by its second message sent to the President of the Security Council on Sunday, 28 January 1996, which I transmitted to him by fax at approximately 7 p.m. yesterday.

What is the situation regarding the political parties? Through various ups and downs, the relationship between the presidential sphere of influence and the opposition since the eruption of the crisis has been uneasy, to be sure, but it has never reached breaking point or a point of no return. In fact, the parties can even be credited with a number of positive joint actions: the negotiation and conclusion of the Convention on Government; the coalition Government; negotiations between various conventional bodies; the follow-up committee; and the framework for concerted action.

It is no small accomplishment to have been able to involve political enemies in negotiations. It took six months to bring them together at the same negotiating table, as the Secretary-General rightly commented when addressing the joint meeting of the opposition parties and the presidential movement on 16 July 1995 in Bujumbura. In Burundi, political leaders, regardless of ideological allegiance, meet, talk and participate side by side at public and social events, stand next to each other and socialize at official receptions, and are often invited to visit each other in their offices and in their homes, in a mutually respectful and convivial atmosphere.

The conciliatory judgment that I am expressing regarding the political protagonists in my country is in no way designed to whitewash all of them. Unfortunately, some of them, deliberately and even viciously, out of political blindness or professional inexperience, have stood in the way of peace and the democratic process. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the political class, of civil society, of the business world, of youth, of the university community — in short, the elite of Burundi — is in fact working for their common destiny and for national reconciliation.

By highlighting the major common denominators shared by the protagonists in the political arena in Burundi, my delegation can prove that, despite appearances, the crisis has by no means reached a point of no return.

There is another reason I am dwelling on the positive aspects of the Government, the parties and their leaders: timeliness and a wish to show that the Security Council, the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union, Presidents Julius Nyerere, Jimmy Carter and Amadou Toumani Toure, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and all the other facilitators have achieved successes. They need only put these successes to good use, with good intentions, to fulfil the noble and wise mission the Security Council will assign in the draft resolution before it today:

“to facilitate a comprehensive political dialogue with the objective of promoting national reconciliation, democracy, security and the rule of law in Burundi”. (S/1996/56, para. 2)

The paramount role among the facilitators falls to the States of the Great Lakes region. Paradoxically, in foreign circles, a certain new political approach threatens to deprive Burundi and our region of the statesman in the best position to make a broad contribution to settling the intra-Burundi conflict: His Excellency Mr. Mobutu Sese Seko. Owing to his personal prestige and his great political stature and vast political experience, President Mobutu is a true adept at regional, African and international affairs alike — whether or not his detractors agree. Hence, to try to ostracize or marginalize a political leader of Mr. Mobutu’s stature — a leader who, furthermore, heads so vast a country blessed with such exceptional resources, despite its temporary problems — is both unrealistic and contrary to the norms of international law. It is unrealistic because the best rule for converting political leaders and countries to democratic ideals is to give them access to the international hubs of democracy and to facilitate their direct personal contacts with foreign figures who are steeped in and who practice the ideas and principles of this political system. It is contrary to international law because no Government has the right to demand that all countries copy foreign democratic procedures: the hard realities on which democratization is based vary from nation to nation. Let us consider the hypothesis that the Government of Zaire, by the principle of reciprocity, were to react by forbidding access to its territory by the nationals of States that had enacted similar measures. This would be a harsh boomerang against the very authors of the measures.

In conclusion, Burundi favours the primacy of a judicious democracy. In my letter dated 18 January 1996, by which I communicated to the President of the Security Council the official position of the Government of Burundi, I stressed the need to protect the honour and prestige of the United Nations. I must reaffirm today that the primary task facing the bodies that devise and propose initiatives and those that take the decisions is to serve the United Nations as a strong shield against failure and its attendant criticism. It is therefore most important to the major actors in the United Nations hierarchy that one of the sine qua non conditions for ensuring the world Organization’s success is the ability to give diplomacy pride of place over military action and to devise solutions commensurate with the problems. The priority concern must be to protect the United Nations and its most prestigious organ, the Security Council, against any diminution in value resulting from setbacks.

To defuse the crisis in Burundi it is important to stress the pre-eminence of judicious diplomacy over military intervention: such intervention, in nearly all cases, is nothing but a mitigation of the failure of diplomacy, which is to say, an admission of diplomatic capitulation. In broad terms we can say that it is completely in the interest of the Security Council to opt for diplomatic solutions and therefore to reinvent figures like Talleyrand, Ralph Bunche, Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin: in other words, prodigies who are able when necessary to work political and diplomatic miracles.

I wish to note that I shall be obliged to ask to speak on the draft resolution if the way it is interpreted should appear to penalize Burundi or undermine its national sovereignty.

The President

I thank the representative of Burundi for his kind words addressed to me.

The next speaker is the representative of Zaire. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.

Mr. Lukabu Khabouji N’Zaji (Zaire)

As this is the first time my delegation has addressed the Council under your presidency, Sir, we wish to join other delegations in congratulating you on your work this month. We wish also to convey our thanks to your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, for the way in which he guided the work of the Council in December 1995.

Let me also congratulate the new members of the Council, all of which are friends of my country: Chile, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Poland and the Republic of Korea. We welcome them to the Council. We shall be counting on them.

My delegation asked to participate in the Security Council’s consideration of the draft resolution before it because we believe that the work the Council is doing is useful for defusing the tense situation prevailing in the Great Lakes region. We commend all members of the Council for the present initiative.

We cannot fail to congratulate the Secretary-General on his perseverance and insight on this matter.

The situation in Burundi calls for strong medicine from the international community. We cannot hide our heads in the sand: there is a problem. We must accept this, and seek solutions. The situation in Burundi is complex, to be sure, but that situation cannot be addressed separately from that prevailing in one of the neighbouring countries.

That is why Zaire believes that the draft resolution before the Council today is an important step towards applying the much-vaunted concept of preventive diplomacy. Zaire endorses the appeal addressed to all political factions in Burundi to apply, implement and respect in good faith the Convention of Government of 10 September 1994, which is a programme that was freely devised and agreed to by the people of Burundi to help their country emerge from this persistent crisis.

But the solutions proposed have all proved insufficient to bring the Burundi people the peace to which they aspire. On the basis of this acknowledgement of failure, Zaire strongly supports the draft resolution before us, and we believe it constitutes a solution that, if it had been used before, would have made it possible to save thousands of the human lives that have been lost.

In accordance with the draft resolution before us, which

Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation as appropriate with the Organization of African Unity and with Member States concerned, to consider what further steps of a preventive nature may be necessary in order to avoid the situation deteriorating further, and to develop contingency plans as appropriate”, (S/1996/56, para. 5)

Zaire is at the disposal of the Secretary-General so that we can explore more deeply with him what measures should be proposed, and I confirm here that my country will cooperate fully in the formulation of plans, if there are any plans to be formulated.

Zaire is an important partner in the Great Lakes region, and we must say that in the quest for solutions to the crisis afflicting that region, Zaire is loath to be presented with any faits accomplis. As to paragraph 8 of the draft resolution, which envisages the adoption of measures under the United Nations Charter, Zaire wishes to state to the Council that, if in the light of the report awaited from the Secretary-General such measures are adopted pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter, Zaire will respect them.

Let me conclude by saying that we are in a situation in which peace can easily give way to war, leading to thousands of deaths. By way of evidence for this, it is enough to note the bellicose inclinations that can be seen in the region. Every day there are killings. It is up to our international community, therefore, to impose this peace — by force if need be — upon those who violate it.

The President

I thank the representative of Zaire for his kind words addressed to me.

Mr. Casardi (Italy)

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia associate themselves with this statement.

The European Union remains deeply concerned by the continuing violence in Burundi and hopes that the spirit of reconciliation can be renewed in the country. The Union will continue to support the efforts undertaken by the United Nations to resolve the crisis and welcomes regional efforts, in particular the action undertaken by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

The European Union emphasizes that it is willing to assist in the recovery of Burundi, in particular by supporting the specific measures to promote peace and reconciliation between the various groups due to be implemented by the Burundi authorities, as provided for in the Convention of Government. The Union would point out that only political solutions will enable a permanent end to be put to the conflict in that country. We believe it is an absolute priority to search for every available negotiating channel.

At this stage, coordinated action is needed by the international community to relaunch political dialogue and break the cycle of violence and instability. We reiterate our support for the idea of an increased and active international presence in Burundi that is both political and humanitarian. In this regard, the role of personalities from Africa and other regions acting as mediators or facilitators is crucial.

In Burundi there are moderate forces open to dialogue that should be encouraged. The more radical forces should be persuaded that dialogue is the only viable option. They must be warned that the international community is ready to adopt adequate measures to prevent the country from plunging into chaos and anarchy and measures against those individuals who refuse peaceful dialogue.

There is a need for a gradual approach to the deepening of the crisis in Burundi. At this moment the mediation and facilitation action of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, of the Organization of African Unity, of the European Union and of political personalities must be supported with every means possible. We are convinced that these actions could also benefit from increased pressure on the parties.

The draft resolution that the Security Council is ready to adopt reflects, in our opinion, the need to send a strong warning signal to the protagonists of the crisis: that the Security Council is ready to examine and eventually impose concrete measures to contain the deterioration of the situation and prevent a further destabilization of the country.

The European Union reiterates its belief in the need to call for a conference on the Great Lakes Region, under the aegis of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, in order to find comprehensive answers to the problems of the entire area. I wish also to point out that the European Union is in the process of appointing a special envoy for the Great Lakes region in order to increase its presence and contribute even more to the search for a peaceful and long-lasting solution to the many problems affecting the region.

The President

The representative of Burundi has asked to speak. I call on the representative of Burundi.

Mr. Terence (Burundi)

At the beginning of my statement, I requested the honour of stating the position of Burundi since it was not possible for me to obtain an exact interpretation of what has become paragraph 8 (a). Since draft resolution S/1996/56 relates to Burundi, my Government has the right to ask the sponsors of the text what its exact meaning is so that Burundi will know what it is dealing with. In Burundi’s view, paragraph 8 (a) may be somewhat confusing and susceptible to various interpretations. Since the Security Council is supporting all the State institutions established by the Convention of Government — and, thus, is supporting first and foremost the Government — it would be contradictory to threaten an arms embargo while that Government is making superhuman efforts to restore peace and security.

On the other hand, the Security Council would be acting consistently not only by threatening but by immediately decreeing a ban on the delivery of all illegal weapons to those who disturb peace and security and all fanatical adherents of violence. Treating the Government on an equal footing with such persons and penalizing it for its determination to neutralize outlaws would be to turn the world on its head and to anger and further traumatize the defenders of peace; it would also lead precisely to outcomes that we seek to prevent. For the sake of its own credibility, the Security Council should refrain from behaving like a kind of bogeyman and avoid adopting measures that would violate Burundi’s national sovereignty and the United Nations Charter.

For all of these reasons, my Government appeals to the Security Council to amend the disputed paragraph. If it does not do so, Burundi will oppose it and feel itself in no way bound by the subparagraph in question. We feel that there is a strange paradox here. In this draft resolution, the Security Council remains silent on the needs for which my Government requested the assistance of the United Nations system and the international community. These needs are listed in the letter of 18 January 1996 that I addressed to the President of the Security Council on behalf of my Government.

It is true that the draft resolution focuses on reactivating the dialogue between the various political partners. My Government welcomes that deeming it to be a positive approach. I therefore reiterate my Government’s appeal for an interpretation of paragraph 8 (a) on the

“ban on the supply of all arms and related matériel to Burundi”. (S/1996/56, para. 8 (a))

We stress that phrase in particular because it would be strange to treat a lawful Government, one endeavouring to establish peace and security, on the same footing as the perpetrators of the violence that is threatening the peace.

The President

As I said at the outset, the Council is meeting today in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations, which, as the Permanent Representative of Burundi was generous enough to point out earlier on, included consultations with him. I think that at this stage the Council is fully conversant with the view on this matter expressed again today by the Permanent Representative of Burundi. In the light of that, it is my understanding that the Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution before it. Unless I hear any objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote.

There being no objection, it is do decided.

I shall first call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements before the voting.

Mr. Legwaila (Botswana)

Whether we like it or not, Burundi has been bleeding for some time now. There were at first conflicting reports and denials from Bujumbura about what was actually happening, but the international community is increasingly unanimous in its assessment of the frightening and deteriorating security situation in that country.

The authorities in Bujumbura are finding it increasingly difficult to protect the lives of their people, and they have our sympathies. The political leaders and parties accuse each other of “ethnic cleansing”, and, by their own admission, the country is in a state of civil war, as the Secretary-General’s letter contained in document S/1996/36 clearly states. The political atmosphere has been poisoned by extremist views that threaten to destroy national institutions, and political discourse is characterized by incitement to hatred and violence.

Botswana is deeply disturbed by these developments. We are convinced that the international community can no longer watch in an impassive manner the human tragedy that is unfolding in Burundi. Something needs to be done, and done urgently, at the political and diplomatic levels to arrest the situation before it gets totally out of control.

The draft resolution which the Security Council is about to adopt is direct and unambiguous. It calls upon the people of Burundi to enter into serious and meaningful negotiations to bring an end to the daily killings and to establish conditions conducive to national reconciliation, democracy and the rule of law. It is important that Burundians take the message seriously and begin to create conditions that would enable them to enter into a comprehensive political dialogue without further delay.

The international community has long realized that the people of Burundi cannot reach political accommodation by themselves. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union and the facilitators appointed by the Cairo Conference of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region, held on 29 November 1995, stand ready to assist them. The people of Burundi should take the opportunity presented by this international goodwill to promote national healing and reconciliation, democracy and the state of law.

Operative paragraph 5 of the draft resolution mandates the Secretary-General to develop contingency plans to enable the Security Council to respond timeously and effectively should the security situation in the country so demand. It is important that the international community, especially member States of the Organization of African Unity, render the Secretary-General all assistance while he develops the contingency plan, but on the understanding that the international community will not leave the problem of Burundi to Africa alone.

The situation in Burundi threatens regional peace and stability, and it therefore calls for the urgent attention of the Security Council. In any case, any action that would be considered appropriate in Burundi would require the provision of substantial financial and logistical resources that would not be readily available in Africa. We look forward to the report of the Secretary-General concerning the outcome of his consultations with Member States and the OAU, as stated in operative paragraph 7. But, as operative paragraph 8 (a) and (b) clearly indicates, the Security Council will in no way wait for the Secretary-General’s report before considering developments in Burundi. It is the understanding of my delegation that the Security Council will be informed, if necessary on a daily basis, about developments in Burundi, so that measures envisaged under operative paragraph 8 (a) and (b) can be imposed as the situation dictates.

Botswana attaches the utmost importance to the security of international personnel, who are doing a commendable job under trying circumstances in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Burundians. The Secretary-General’s letter contained in document S/1996/36 indicates that any interruption in the delivery of humanitarian assistance could have far-reaching consequences for human lives and population movements. We therefore appeal to the Government of Burundi to cooperate with the Secretary-General’s technical security mission. The outcome of the mission’s work is important to the continuation of humanitarian operations, which are so vital to the well-being of the people of Burundi.

Mr. Elaraby (Egypt)

The draft resolution before the Security Council today on the situation in Burundi reflects the grave concern of the international community over the very fragile conditions in that country, which is friendly towards Egypt and enjoys bonds with it that date back to the dawn of history.

The adoption of the draft resolution will affirm that the international community has actually derived benefit from the lessons of the recent past and is convinced that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: had we moved at the right time within the ambit of preventive diplomacy, we could have prevented catastrophes such as those that have afflicted the Great Lakes region of Africa for about two years now, with Rwanda still suffering their scourge.

The efforts by the Secretary-General, his Special Representative in Burundi, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), its military observers, the European Union and many prominent people on the African and international scenes affirm that the international community is fully resolved to prevent a repetition of the internal strife that has taken place in several African countries in the past few years, damaging their national unity and preventing the peoples of Africa from giving their full concentration to achieving economic development and joining in the march of progress.

In this regard, on 29 November last Egypt hosted a conference, in Cairo, on ways and means of underpinning stability in the Great Lakes region.

Egypt will vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Council, thus underscoring its keen interest in maintaining Burundi’s national unity and stability, and law and order in that country and in the Great Lakes region.

We urge all parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from any act of violence as necessary conditions for allowing a national dialogue to begin in which all elements in society will take part with a view to achieving national reconciliation, security and democracy for Burundi. We hope that the comprehensive report to be submitted to the Council by the Secretary-General under the terms of operative paragraph 7 of the draft resolution will contain encouraging elements showing that national dialogue has actually begun, so that the international community can continue its support for Burundi.

In conclusion, we also hope that security and protection for United Nations personnel and members of the international relief organizations will be assured, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance to Burundi continues to flow.

Mr. Wibisono (Indonesia)

My delegation would like first to express its appreciation to the authors for presenting the draft resolution now before the Council on the critical situation in Burundi. We believe that the submission of this draft, which was in response to the recommendations of the Secretary-General set out in his letter of 29 December 1995 (S/1995/1068), is both timely and appropriate if Burundi is to escape the tragic and horrible fate suffered by Rwanda.

It would be remiss of my delegation to fail to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to Mr. Julius Nyerere for his observations on and assessment of the situation in Burundi, which he shared with all the members of the Council under the Arrias formula.

From the various reports made available to it, the Council is fully aware of the deteriorating security situation now facing Burundi, which is marked by the persistence of violence and an escalation in human rights violations, which have had very adverse effects and brought international humanitarian assistance to a halt. There have been tragic incidents, including the destruction of economic assets and infrastructure, about which the Indonesian delegation cannot but express its deep concern.

In the light of these so destructive and alarming developments, my delegation fully concurs with the view that there is an urgent need to defuse the situation. We agree with the Secretary-General’s observation that failure to do so would result in further destabilization, not only in Burundi but also in the entire Great Lakes region. My delegation is therefore in favour of the early adoption of the draft resolution so that a repetition of the tragic events that occurred in Rwanda may be avoided, averting an explosion into ethnic violence on a massive scale.

In reaffirming my delegation’s full support for the Convention of Government, I can say also that we fully support and concur with the appeal to all the parties and leaders in Burundi to take all necessary steps towards an earnest dialogue to resolve their differences, and to discard notions of violence and brutality. Dialogue between the parties and all the leaders in Burundi is, in our opinion, of paramount importance in this regard, and should be urgently pursued. In this connection, the commendable efforts by the Secretary-General and others to promote and facilitate the emergence of this kind of comprehensive dialogue deserve our strong and unequivocal support.

Having said that, my delegation wishes nevertheless to make some brief comments about subparagraph (a) of operative paragraph 8, concerning the imposition of travel restrictions. It has always been our firm conviction that selective sanctions are not appropriate measures for resolving conflicts such as the one in Burundi. Although at the moment the behaviour of certain individuals can be construed as exacerbating tensions and conflict, the real possibility exists that at some future time they may play an important role in reaching a political solution; thus, the premature imposition of sanctions would serve only to antagonize the perpetrators even further and lead them to create obstacles to attaining peace and national reconciliation.

In conclusion, while we note that the Convention of Government is coming under increasing attack, my delegation wishes to reiterate that implementation of the provisions of the Convention constitutes a sound basis for promoting a political dialogue and national debate, as a means of fostering national reconciliation, that actively seeks the constructive participation of all segments of Burundi’s political spectrum. For, in the final analysis, responsibility for attaining peace and national reconciliation in Burundi rests with Burundi’s people and leaders themselves.

In the light of these observations, my delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution now before the Council.

Mr. Qin Huasun (China)

Since October 1993, the political situation in Burundi has been turbulent and unstable, the security and humanitarian situations have further worsened and there has been an increasing outflow of refugees. This is not only detrimental to economic recovery and reconstruction, but also poses a threat to peace and stability in the region. The Chinese Government is deeply concerned.

The international community, particularly the United Nations and the relevant regional organizations, have made untiring efforts to achieve an early settlement of the question of Burundi. The Secretary-General and his Special Representative have themselves been to Bujumbura for talks with the parties concerned. The Security Council has dispatched to Burundi two fact-finding missions, which have provided firsthand material to give us a thorough understanding of the situation in Burundi.

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) has also offered its good offices and mediation, and taken a number of political and diplomatic initiatives. At the thirty-first ordinary session of the OAU Assembly, Heads of State and Government held special discussions and decided to take a number of measures to do with the question of Burundi. The former President of Tanzania, Mr. Nyerere, has also been to Burundi, by invitation, as a mediator and to offer his good offices with a view to finding a political solution to the Burundi question. We appreciate and support these efforts.

Despite the efforts made by the international community, the situation in the Great Lakes region remains precarious. The outflow of refugees from Burundi to its neighbouring countries is still going on. Therefore, the international community, including the United Nations, has the responsibility to continue to do its utmost to help the parties in Burundi conduct extensive dialogue, so as to build mutual trust and achieve national reconciliation.

The draft resolution to be adopted by the Security Council demonstrates the concern of the international community over the situation in Burundi. It is also a component of international efforts to bring about stability in Burundi. We hope that the adoption of this draft resolution will truly promote dialogue among the parties in Burundi so that their hatred and differences will be removed and the foundation for national reconciliation will thus be laid. Therefore, we will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us.

The Chinese Government and people have all along followed closely the developments in Burundi and have deeply sympathized with the people of Burundi in their sufferings. We have taken an active part in the United Nations efforts on the question of Burundi and, within our capacity, have provided material assistance to Burundi through bilateral channels.

In our view, the final settlement of the question of Burundi must depend on the Burundi people themselves. We therefore urge the parties in the country to take into account State and national interests, start a broad-based dialogue as soon as possible and implement in earnest the relevant resolutions of the Council so as to create conditions for national reconciliation at an early date. We also hope that the Secretary-General will solicit a wide range of opinions, including those of the Burundi Government, when making relevant recommendations.

We welcome further efforts to be made by the neighbours of Burundi and regional organizations to help the people of Burundi achieve national reconciliation at an early date and bring about peace and stability in the region.

Mr. Martínez Blanco (Honduras)

Since the coup d’état of October 1993, the situation in Burundi has been steadily deteriorating. The central aspect of the crisis continues to be the mutual mistrust between the Hutu and Tutsi groups. There is widespread fear that this mistrust and the actions of extremists could lead inevitably to civil war, unless a broad-based political dialogue is soon established in that country to promote national reconciliation, democracy, security and law, and unless ways are found to put an end to the impunity that has held sway for so long.

That political dialogue should take place with all sectors prepared to talk: political parties, recognized or not, the armed forces, civil society and the church. Although it is up to the Burundis to resolve their national problems, we believe that the commitment and participation of the international community is essential to establish a general framework for reconciliation. Accordingly, we should recognize the efforts being made by the Organization of African Unity, the European Union and the facilitators.

In Burundi there are various problems that must be resolved. First, there must be an end to impunity. That is one of the main factors that cause the continuous violation of human rights, and we therefore believe there is an urgent need to strengthen the judicial system. Secondly, the system of security and domestic order must be strengthened; the responsibility of the various authorities entrusted with maintaining order and domestic security must be clearly delineated, and the authorities must be trained in the field of human rights so that a climate of better understanding and tolerance can exist in the country. Moreover, all activities that incite violence and ethnic hatred and that heighten tensions must come to a halt, and the role played by the media must be strictly monitored. If we wish to prevent the tragedy of Rwanda from taking place in Burundi, the international community must contribute to creating mechanisms designed to foster confidence and to promote acceptance of the ethnic composition of the Burundi population. All efforts to bring an end to the crisis should enjoy the full support of the international community and should be accompanied by the necessary resources to meet the goals of national reconciliation, reconstruction and economic rehabilitation in Burundi. Above all, we must recognize that the peace and stability of Burundi are also the peace and stability of the whole Great Lakes region.

My delegation shares the concern of the members of this Council at the steady deterioration of the situation in Burundi, and we reiterate that we must spare no effort to promote dialogue and reconciliation in that country. But at the same time, we regret the treatment given the international humanitarian assistance personnel working in that country. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, reported, the continuation of humanitarian aid is essential to attend to the needs of the Burundis and the refugees, who for more than two years have been affected by turbulence in the region. It is impossible to conceive of a moment when, for reasons relating to the security of personnel responsible for humanitarian activities, these activities have to be suspended, thus creating a true emergency situation. My delegation therefore agrees with the decision to send a technical mission to Burundi to study, present security arrangements for United Nations personnel and facilities, with a view to improving them. We urge the Burundi authorities and security forces to cooperate with that technical mission.

To conclude, my delegation wishes to appeal to all those responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Burundi to participate in a constructive spirit in the broad political dialogue, referred to in the draft resolution we are going to adopt; we will vote in favour of it.

Mr. Park (Republic of Korea)

Unfortunately, indications are that Burundi is moving towards an extremely dangerous situation. The gravity of the situation has now been confirmed by the firsthand assessments of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Ogata, and by Ambassador Albright of the United States. Indeed, the capability of the Burundi people and leadership for self-government is being tested.

The latest developments in Burundi are a matter of serious concern to the international community. We condemn those responsible for the violence and strongly urge all concerned in Burundi to desist from acts of violence.

We pay special tribute to the international humanitarian personnel on the ground for the dedication and commitment with which they are carrying out their mission. We also acknowledge the efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in maintaining military observers and strengthening the civilian component of its Mission in Burundi under extremely difficult conditions. It must be recognized that the OAU’s military presence on the ground has made a significant contribution in deterring a broader tragedy in Burundi to date.

As we are well aware, this dismal situation in Burundi is of the Burundi leaders’ own making, and, therefore, the Burundi leaders, in particular, those of the extremist elements who incite violence, are ultimately responsible for the consequences.

None the less, given the urgency of the situation and the potential human consequences of a further deterioration of the crisis, as well as the far-reaching implications for the stability of the entire Great Lakes region, the international community cannot stand idly by. It has the moral responsibility to help Burundi’s people and leaders restore peace and stability in the country. That is why my Government is persuaded that it is time for the Security Council to act.

In this connection, there are three broad objectives the Council should try to accomplish in the context of preventive diplomacy, as advanced by the Secretary-General in his Agenda for Peace.

The first is to demonstrate the firm resolve of the international community not to tolerate any further deterioration of the situation and to send a clear warning to those who encourage violence in Burundi of the possible consequences of underestimating the determination of the international community. In this regard, we share the urgency of developing contingency plans.

Secondly, the Council should ensure the security of the international humanitarian personnel on the ground so that relief efforts may continue unhindered. We welcome the Secretary-General’s timely action of dispatching a technical security mission to Burundi to examine ways of improving existing security arrangements. We look forward to a positive outcome of this mission. We also emphasize the importance of closer cooperation between the United Nations and the military observers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Burundi authorities should be served stern notice that they are responsible for the security of the international personnel operating in that country.

Thirdly, the Council should also address, in a longer-term time-frame, the fundamental causes of the crisis by promoting dialogue and national reconciliation across the whole political spectrum in Burundi. We welcome and encourage the efforts of the OAU, the European Union and the facilitators appointed by the Cairo Conference of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region, held last November. While commending the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff to this end, we encourage them to work closely with the OAU and to build upon the endeavours undertaken in the regional and subregional contexts.

It must be borne in mind, in this connection, that the initiatives of the international community cannot replace the efforts of the Burundi leaders themselves towards genuine national reconciliation. All that the international community can do is to encourage and facilitate dialogue. Whether or not a durable modus vivendi can be worked out from these efforts depends ultimately upon the political will of the parties concerned to make peace and come to terms with one another. This is why we stress the paramount importance of all concerned in Burundi pursuing dialogue and national reconciliation and the imperative need for them to do so.

Given that the foregoing views of my Government are fully reflected in the draft resolution before us, my delegation will vote in favour of it.

Mr. Wlosowicz (Poland)

It is with great concern that the Polish delegation is looking at the current situation in Burundi. The whole international community is deeply concerned. We all seem to agree that the state of internal affairs in Burundi has to improve now, or else it might be too late to prevent it from deteriorating further and finally getting out of control.

It is very discouraging indeed that the observations made by the Security Council’s mission to Burundi one year ago are still valid and that, regrettably, new negative factors have emerged. It is deplorable that the majority of the population is suffering because of political rivalries. It is beyond comprehension that violence against aid groups in Burundi has increased. Such acts of violence primarily affect the most vulnerable people — children and women. And what is really tragic is that they discourage further initiatives of a humanitarian nature.

Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to those who, notwithstanding the cost and the danger, bring relief to the suffering and exhausted people of Burundi. But how much can we expect of them?

My delegation is very grateful to the Secretary-General for his personal involvement and efforts aimed at finding a way of dealing with the crisis in Burundi. We thank the Secretary-General for the information he delivered and also for the initiatives he submitted to the Council. We fully support the sending by the Secretary-General of a technical security mission to Burundi to examine ways of improving security arrangements for United Nations personnel and premises and also for the protection of humanitarian operations.

We are counting heavily on the Secretary-General’s efforts to facilitate a comprehensive political dialogue. The value of dialogue was emphasized by President Nyerere and cannot possibly be overestimated. We vividly remember his words, but the basic question we face now is how much time we have. Time is running out, and we should not let the determination of the international community fade away. After all, millions of lives are at stake.

It is encouraging for us to see the cooperation among the countries of the region, which are vitally interested in achieving peace in Burundi and stability in the whole area. There are many examples of decisive, unanimous and effective cooperation between African States. Therefore, we attach a great deal of hope to this way of looking for a solution, and in this context we welcome the European Union’s decision to appoint a special envoy to the region. In any case, those who exercise political influence in Burundi have to realize that cooperation is the solution — cooperation both between political groups in Burundi and with the international community, which is desperately trying to help.

In conclusion, let me state that Poland fully supports the draft resolution under consideration.

Mr. Lopes da Rosa (Guinea-Bissau)

We wish to express our satisfaction at the efforts being deployed by the Secretary-General, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union and all those who are contributing to the search for peace in Burundi.

The situation in that brotherly nation is of great concern to my country, which has always upheld the principles of national reconciliation by peaceful means.

Guinea-Bissau once again welcomes the Convention of Government of 10 September 1994, which constitutes an institutional framework for national reconciliation in Burundi, and we support the governmental institutions established pursuant to its provisions as well as the Cairo Conference of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region, whose final decisions have had most important implications for the situation of refugees and displaced persons in that region of Africa.

We must acknowledge that despite the slowness of the process of national reconciliation in Burundi, some progress has been made in the framework of efforts aimed at a rapprochement between all the peoples of Burundi and at the establishment of peace and lasting stability in the Great Lakes region, and in this brotherly nation in particular.

Once again we support the efforts of the Secretary-General, as well as those of other entities aimed at facilitating a comprehensive political dialogue in order to promote national reconciliation, democracy, security and the rule of law in Burundi.

In this context, we call once again upon all parties concerned to refrain from any action that could undermine the process of national reconciliation and to commit themselves without delay to a dialogue in a positive and constructive spirit.

We wish to emphasize the importance we attach to the continued provision of humanitarian aid for refugees and displaced persons in Burundi. For this reason, we believe that without a guarantee of security, agencies of the United Nations and of non-governmental organizations will not be able to fulfil their humanitarian assistance mission in that country.

In this regard, we welcome the intention of the High Commissioner for Refugees to create a permanent mechanism for consultations on security measures between the Government of Burundi, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

On the basis of that position, Guinea-Bissau will vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Council. We hope it will cast a ray of hope even though the process of national reconciliation in our brother country is at an impasse.

The President

I shall now put to the vote the draft resolution contained in document S/1996/56.

favour against
abstain absent

favour=15 against=0 abstain=0 absent=0

Botswana, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russia, United Kingdom, United States

The President

There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 1040 (1996).

I shall now call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements following the voting.

Mrs. Albright (United States)

Today the Security Council sends a clear message to all the people of Burundi: the violence must stop.

In a letter to the Burundian President, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, that I personally carried to Burundi for President Clinton, the American President called on all Burundians to reject extremism and resolve their differences peacefully. The United States will not support, recognize, or provide assistance to any government that comes to power by force in Burundi. Indeed, the United States would lead an effort to isolate such a regime.

Escalating violence in Burundi has pitted the Tutsi minority against the Hutu majority, resulting in widespread human rights abuses. A wave of killings has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians each week, and the Tutsi-dominated military and its auxiliary forces have driven many Hutus out of the capital, Bujumbura. A rural Hutu insurgency is fighting back, targeting both Tutsi civilians and the military. According to the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a smouldering civil war is spreading further and further in Burundi, giving rise to an increasingly marked genocidal trend.

Aid workers fear for their lives in Burundi. Security for humanitarian workers must be increased or they will have to leave the country. The United States calls on the Government of Burundi to guarantee the safety of aid workers.

The United States deplores the continuing instability and violence in Burundi. The United States, along with other donor countries, is seeking ways to defuse tensions in that country. The United States urges the leaders of Burundi to isolate the extremists and seek a lasting peace. Ultimately, it is the people of Burundi who have it in their hands to prevent their country from falling into an abyss. It is up to the Burundians to ensure that Burundi does not commit national suicide.

Mr. Rudolph (Germany)

Germany is extremely concerned about the situation in Burundi. There is reason to fear that there may be a dramatic escalation. We are therefore satisfied that the Security Council, in the resolution it has just adopted, gives a clear and strong signal to those who are encouraging ethnic violence in that country. In this context, Germany associates itself fully with the statement Italy made earlier on behalf of the European Union.

As a first step to calm the situation, the political actors in Burundi will have to engage in a comprehensive dialogue. No important element of the political spectrum should be left out, in order not to endanger such a process. Such a dialogue, in the view of my Government, should prepare the ground for establishing the rule of law, peace, security and democracy.

At the same time, all parties are called upon to refrain immediately from all acts of violence. The international community will not tolerate any further deterioration.

Germany fully supports the initiatives taken by the Secretary-General, by the Organization of African Unity, by the European Union and by the facilitators to bring about the conditions necessary for a political dialogue in Burundi. We will do all we can to support them in their consultations with the political actors in Burundi.

Those who continue to encourage ethnic violence in Burundi or who refuse to enter into a comprehensive dialogue will have to face the sanctions of the international community. In this context, we support the call to cooperate in the identification and dismantling of radio stations which incite hatred and acts of violence in Burundi.

The Secretary-General is requested to report to the Security Council by 20 February 1996 on efforts to facilitate a comprehensive dialogue and preventive actions that may be necessary in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. My Government stands ready to consider the proposals the Secretary-General will make and, if necessary, to consider the imposition of measures under the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. Shkourko (Russia)

Russia is gravely concerned at the most alarming situation in Burundi. Information from that country indicates that Burundi is becoming ever more bogged down in a quagmire of bloody violence and chaos; this could lead to a full-scale civil war fraught with ruinous consequences for the people of Burundi and for the region as a whole.

In the view of the Russian delegation, the tragic situation taking shape in Burundi dictates that the international community urgently draw up a set of agreed measures to stop the further escalation of violence and to get the parties to the conflict in Burundi to resume a broad political dialogue in the interests of stability and national reconciliation. We consider it to be of the greatest importance that, as these measures are implemented, African countries and the peace-keeping machinery of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) should play an authoritative role, with appropriate support from the United Nations.

The Russian delegation voted in favour of resolution 1040 (1996), just adopted by the Security Council unanimously, for we believe that the resolution sends a crystal-clear signal to all the parties in Burundi that the international community cannot stand by and watch extremist forces in that country, through their irresponsible actions, push the people onto the path of national suicide. The resolution sternly warns extremists of all stripes that, should they continue to block dialogue and the peace process in Burundi, the Security Council will be obliged to enact selective, preventive enforcement measures. We assume that this warning will prove adequate to the current situation.

We urgently call on all parties to the conflict in Burundi to show common sense, to stop the violence immediately and to sit down at the negotiating table in order to speedily achieve a mutually acceptable settlement that will be in the interests of restoring lasting peace, stability and development. For its part, the international community will be prepared to provide the necessary assistance and support in that endeavour.

Mr. Ladsous (France)

France is most concerned at the deterioration of the situation in Burundi. The conclusion of the Convention of Government had laid the grounds for understanding, which should have made it possible to ease tension and restore the rules of democracy. My Government, which had hailed that progress, still believes that the Convention of Government is the keystone of political and institutional balance in Burundi.

The resolution, in favour of which France voted, attests to the interest and concern of the Security Council for the situation in Burundi. We cannot remain indifferent to the evidence of violence that comes to us daily, the violation of the rules of democracy and the abuses carried out by extremists: we must react.

For its part, France encourages dialogue and calls upon all Burundians to renounce violence and cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and anyone else who could serve as a facilitator of dialogue. We would be happy if African statesmen, whose wisdom is uncontestable, agreed to play that role. We pay tribute to the efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and to the outstanding actions in the field by OAU civilian and military observers. Finally, the European Union is also engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts, and is planning to name a special envoy for the Great Lakes region.

While encouraging dialogue, which is the logical path towards a solution to this crisis, our Council is also ready to consider any measures that might prevent a deterioration of the situation. The delivery of humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced persons is a priority, and we therefore believe it necessary to ensure that such assistance be given the best possible protection. We therefore await with interest the conclusions of the technical mission that the Secretary-General has dispatched to the scene.

We are also grateful to the Secretary-General for giving priority to all possible preventive-diplomacy measures. The Council’s request for consideration of new steps in no way prejudges the decision it will take, nor, a fortiori, the participation of our country in a possible operation. Finally, if the Council expresses its readiness to consider the adoption of restrictive measures against those who would continue to resort to violence, it must be clear that our role is not to punish Burundi. On the contrary, our concern is to help Burundi overcome the serious crisis it is experiencing.

The coming weeks are important for Burundi. All the opportunities for peace and dialogue that the international community is supporting must be taken advantage of so that this country can return to the rules of democracy and the rule of law.

Finally we can not fail to emphasize once again that the crisis affecting Burundi is part of the greater framework of difficulties confronting the Great Lakes region. This is why we continue to believe that there will soon be a need to convene a conference on peace, security and stability in the Great Lakes region in order to resolve the region’s problems as a whole.

The President

I shall now make a statement in my capacity as representative of the United Kingdom.

The events in Burundi which have inspired this resolution are a matter of grave concern to the British Government. As this resolution makes clear, a lasting and durable solution to the situation in Burundi can be found only through a comprehensive political dialogue in support of the principles of the Convention of Government. We should like to reaffirm our support for the Government of Burundi in its efforts to sustain the principles of the Convention of Government, which sets the framework within which the parties in Burundi should work together to promote stability and the rule of law in that country.

The international community is in our view rightly focusing its efforts on facilitating such dialogue and on preventive action designed to avert a further worsening of the situation in Burundi. The Secretary-General, and through him Mr. Faguy, the Special Representative in Burundi, as well as former President Nyerere, who was appointed a facilitator by the Cairo Conference of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region, have our strong support. We also welcome the role played by the Organization of African Unity and its observers in Burundi. It is right that those in the region should play an active part in addressing this problem. We pay particular tribute to those neighbouring Governments that have offered sanctuary to persons fleeing the violence.

Since the tragic events of 1993, a climate of insecurity and fear has prevailed in Burundi, perpetuated by those who use undemocratic means to undermine the institutions of government. In adopting this resolution, the Council is sending a clear message that it condemns those responsible for the daily killings and other violence in Burundi. It is particularly abhorrent that violence is directed against those that are least able to protect themselves — the refugees and the displaced persons in Burundi — and at those who seek to ensure the continued delivery of humanitarian relief. Such actions must stop. We welcome the sending of a technical security mission to Burundi to examine ways of improving security arrangements so that humanitarian operations can continue.

This resolution makes clear the Council’s readiness to take measures against those who seek to determine Burundi’s future by violence. The message to them is clear. States, particularly those bordering Burundi, can now help by preventing activity in their territory by extremist groups that seek to incite violence in Burundi. This is particularly true in the case of the so-called hate radio stations.

The resolution also makes clear that the international community is intensifying its efforts to avert a further worsening of the situation in Burundi. In this context, we must not be unprepared for the possibility of a further worsening in the violence. Further steps of a preventive nature may be necessary if leaders, both within and outside the country, do not participate in or support the efforts currently in train to achieve national reconciliation and lasting stability in Burundi. We fully support, therefore, the request made to the Secretary-General to consider, following consultations as appropriate with the Organization of African Unity and the Member States concerned, further preventive steps, and to develop contingency plans as appropriate. In our mind, no option is ruled out in principle.

I resume my function as President of the Council.

There are no further speakers. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The meeting rose at 5.35 p.m.
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