The situation in Burundi Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi (S/1996/660)
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. He Yafei
|Mr. Abdel Aziz
|Mr. Lopes Cabral
|Mr. Martínez Blanco
Republic of Korea
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Burundi
Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi (S/1996/660)
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Australia, Belgium, Burundi, Canada, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, 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.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
Members of the Council have before them the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi, document S/1996/660.
I should like to draw the attention of the members of the Council to the following other documents: S/1996/628, note by the Secretary-General circulating a letter dated 5 August 1996 from the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity addressed to the Secretary-General; S/1996/682, letter dated 25 July 1996 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, transmitting the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi; S/1996/620, letter dated 2 August 1996 from the Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General; S/1996/651, letter dated 7 August 1996 from the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General; S/1996/673, letter dated 19 August 1996 from the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General; and S/1996/690, letter dated 25 August 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.
A century will soon have passed since the opening of relations between Burundi and Germany. To this day, they have not been clouded in any way, and we are gratified by that. Even if a Persian proverb states that politeness benefits more the person who extends it than the person who receives it, your exquisite courtesy and your diplomatic professionalism warrant our admiration, and we are delighted to see you presiding over this organ.
During the month of July, Ambassador Alain Dejammet presided over the work of the Security Council. Aware as I am of his great modesty, and as he is not here now, I welcome the opportunity to commend him and his delegation for the skilful and realistic way in which they carried out their mandate, reflecting the very intelligent policies of France.
After the new regime came to power, a summit held at Arusha by the countries of the Great Lakes region decreed general economic sanctions against Burundi. That is the main reason for the request addressed to the President of the Security Council on 25 August 1996 for the convening of an urgent meeting of the Security Council on this matter.
The delegation of Burundi, for the purposes of the Security Council, must highlight the main factors militating against this overall strangulation, to the detriment of an innocent people. This statement will address four factors: first, the national imperatives in favour of a change in government; secondly, the haste to use coercive measures; thirdly, the clear illegality and immorality of the economic embargo; and, fourthly and lastly, the devastating consequences for the people of Burundi.
First I shall outline the particulars of national imperatives favouring the changes that took place on 25 July 1996.
Over the last three years, a coalition of global dimensions emerged with a view to averting a genocide in Burundi similar to or on the pattern of the one that befell Rwanda. In order to save Burundi from this disaster, the Security Council made enormous efforts. The Secretary-General envisaged various alternatives. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the European Union mobilized great human, diplomatic and financial resources. Non-governmental, intergovernmental and humanitarian organizations made efforts and provided means, and the international media kept world public opinion constantly alert to the apocalyptic danger to the survival of the people of Burundi. In spite of this worldwide crusade, the country moved inexorably towards the feared apocalypse, and the former regime proved powerless to save a nation in peril. The daily massacres taking place under the very eyes of that paralysed power were testimony of this.
If democracy can be understood as government for the well-being of the people, the former system had failed completely in its primary mission: to save the people from extermination. This sad reality was often evoked in a series of reports by the Secretary-General, including the most recent, S/1996/660 of 15 August 1996, which deals mainly with the state of affairs before the fateful date of 25 July 1996.
In the face of a tragedy as explosive as ours, there was desperation in all quarters over the possibility of saving our shipwrecked nation. The President having abdicated and his Prime Minister having been forced to follow in his wake, a headless State resulted. Here I refer again to page 4 of the report of the Secretary-General of 15 August. The emergence of the new regime responded to paramount national imperatives. Should the new and august assembly embrace the defenders of a regime that not only had failed but was unable to save an entire people in the pit of hell and implacably condemned to genocide?
A legitimate and an inevitable question arose: is it reasonable and responsible to support a political system when a population is being decimated day by day? Is that system still a democracy? The Government before 25 July 1996 had not resulted from elections; it was merely the outcome of the Convention on Governance concluded by 12 political parties; it was called upon to govern the State of Burundi during a transitional period, since it was impossible for the victorious party to govern alone because of the genocide attributed to its members in 1993-1994, as can be seen from the report of the International Commission of Inquiry.
Would it really have been politically wise to allow Burundi to succumb to total and definitive implosion under a democracy that had become but a shadow of its former self, or was it imperative to throw a life-line to the people of Burundi? The latter alternative proved necessary in order to avoid genocide and to provide a powerful springboard to a new democratic process. Would it really have been sound to accommodate a Government doomed to reign over the ruins or the ashes of a nation?
Secondly, there is the haste of coercive measures. At the moment, the motives of our neighbouring countries remain unknown and, at best, are open to interpretation. However stealthily they are concealed, the measures taken against Burundi have been dictated by unavowed objectives. A minimum of realism and political wisdom requires that we allow the new regime to succeed or fail in its own development towards elective democracy, as has been the case in countries of the region and throughout the world. In the governmental programme, President Pierre Buyoya has already solemnly and explicitly committed the new regime to putting an end to all forms of violence and criminality, working for peace and lasting security, eradicating impunity, spawning a new democratic process and confirming the mission conferred upon Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in his mediation aimed at bringing the different parties to the conflict together at the negotiating table.
Towards that end, President Buyoya has personally carried out two visits in three weeks to President Nyerere in order to urge him to reactivate his mission. Along the same lines, Burundi has proposed the convening and holding of a regional summit devoted to the overall crisis. It has begun talks even with the armed factions that are determined to lay down their weapons and to divorce themselves from Nazi ideologies of extermination and genocide. In keeping with this new political and democratic dynamic, consultations are already under way with a view to the establishment of a transitional national assembly. All the deputies of the former National Assembly will be members, together with certain representatives of civil society and of other socio-political sectors, with a view to adapting the Parliament to national realities. This new assembly will be convened in a regular session in the month of October. In the same context, the national debate that both Burundi and the Security Council have fervently called for is scheduled for the month of November. As for political parties, a new law and other mechanisms will be specifically studied and decided upon by that national assembly.
Given this impressive series of measures taken in record time and aimed at preventing genocide and strengthening the chances of genuine pluralistic democracy, we can well wonder about the sense of these hasty coercive measures. Undoubtedly, under the influence of the economic blockade under way — which is already a nightmare for the nation of Burundi — certain actors are trying to level another mortal blow: a coup de grâce intended to deprive Burundi by an arms embargo, of the shield normally provided by the national army, as though the economic blockade were not overwhelming enough. Such a development would place the population in the hands of armed terrorists of all types, who, skilled in lawlessness and in clandestine behaviour, would not submit to any prohibition on weapons.
This measure would be a great boon for them, because it would make it impossible for the Government to equip itself for the benefit of all the people of Burundi. Burundi, however, proposes that the Security Council consider a more realistic, more constructive and more productive alternative. From this perspective, a diplomatic dynamic involving an ad hoc mission to the States of the Great Lakes region, including Burundi, would make it possible for the Security Council better to understand the ins and outs of the overall problem. The facts having been provided by the source itself, it would be infinitely easier for the Security Council to provide solutions based on existing realities.
There is a strange reasoning that upholds the economic blockade as a way to force the political actors to negotiate. This pretext cannot stand, since the new regime has, from the very beginning, publicly asked that dialogue be organized between all groups, including the armed factions, as long as they renounce the repugnant practices of violence, extermination and genocide.
In spite of the standstill, and even setbacks, in the negotiations under the former Government, no embargo was imposed on it. Is it therefore conceivable that the fact that it was impossible to resolve the conflict under the former Government is being blamed on a regime which is resolved and able to remedy the failings of the former governmental group?
Is it logically and politically justifiable that the new regime be forced to atone for the sins committed by political leaders deposed for having failed at their national mandate? It is important for the Security Council to consider whether the hasty economic sanctions are well founded. Even if the actors involved in our region had doubts as to the true intentions of the new Burundian authorities, the negotiations required a minimum period of time devoted to specifying negotiable points, to approving an agenda, to determining practical modalities, to identifying negotiators and to the forming of the delegations of the various groups that are parties to the conflict. The result is that the true motives that inspired the initial and principal authors of this extreme punishment against Burundi have nothing to do with the well-being of Burundi’s people. Onus probandi incumbit actori: the burden of proof rests on he who makes a legal or material allegation. In this case, the obligation to prove that the regime currently in place is not really aiming for a general improvement of the socio-political landscape falls to the authors of the economic embargo against Burundi.
Thirdly, as regards the clear illegality and immorality of the economic blockade against Burundi, an utterly specious interpretation tends to support the thesis according to which each State is authorized to exercise the discretionary right to decree measures such as those that have now been decided upon against Burundi. Such an idea confuses the ability to accept or refuse economic relations between States with the right to inflict on third States arbitrary coercive measures. International law explicitly and strongly prohibits giving one State the right to determine the life or death of another. According to this thesis, no State is legally authorized to block or to reroute cargo or merchandise from and/or to third States. In application of this rule of international law, while they are not obliged to do business or to communicate with our country, Burundi’s neighbours are in no way authorized to confiscate or to intercept its merchandise ordered by or destined for other countries. They do so at the risk of committing interference in its internal affairs, in flagrant violation of inter-State conventions and treaties.
At this point, may I cite an article by a professor at Brussels University that appeared in Libre Belgique today, 28 August. It states, “In fact, this measure is politically laughable.” This embargo is politically laughable, according to Professor Eric David, a specialist in international law at the Université Libre of Brussels, since it is being imposed on Burundi because Burundi has not been democratic since three weeks ago. From a legal standpoint, this embargo is a form of intervention in Burundi’s internal affairs, a type of intervention that has been prohibited since the 1970s by the United Nations. The Professor explains that the United Nations could transgress this prohibition if the country targeted by intervention had been officially classified as a threat to international peace and security. Yet Burundi has not committed such a crime, as I will prove in a moment by referring to the Charters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and of the United Nations.
As will be shown, the Charter of the United Nations is gravely violated by the ordering of economic sanctions against Burundi. Indeed, judging by their nature and their excessive gravity, they are identical to those stipulated in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Under the terms of Article 39 of the Charter, such sanctions can be imposed on a Member State of the Organization only when such a State has been guilty of a grave threat to the peace, a breach of peace or an act of aggression. The breaking of economic relations and the interruption of various forms of communication by virtue of Article 41 of the Charter are in no way justified in the case of our country, since it has not attacked any other State or threatened the peace anywhere in the region that has saddled it with sanctions.
Even supposing that a country deserved the economic sanctions recommended in Article 41 of the Charter, their imposition requires prior authorization by the Security Council, under the terms of Article 53 of the Charter. I quote:
“no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council”.
An exception is made in the case of a State that was an enemy of the signatories of the Charter. But as Burundi was not yet a sovereign State during the Second World War, it was not an enemy to any signatory of the Charter.
Fourthly, as regards the pervasive disillusionment over the well-foundedness of neighbourliness and natural solidarity, under the pretext that these sanctions are decreed by Africans, and thus by brothers and neighbours of Burundi to boot, some States are tempted either to resign themselves to a fait accompli or to take a wait-and-see approach. Either position is a failure to live up to the responsibilities devolved to the Security Council.
The omnipresent thesis that this economic blockade is all the more outrageous, disturbing and unforgivable because it comes from Africans, brothers and neighbours, is eminently plausible. Such a vision is as sound as it is rational, for these brothers and neighbours should have been the first to show their eagerness to care for and their solidarity with a full-fledged member of their regional family — in short, to try to bind the wounds of Burundi in such trying times. If the situation were reversed, Burundi would find it eternally repugnant to take advantage of the misfortunes and trials of a brotherly African people, whether near or far, to declare economic war.
There are many factors to support the thesis that the economic embargo against Burundi can be described only as economic aggression. A grave attack on peace, as specified in Article 39 of the Charter, is in evidence. It is up to the Security Council, if it is not to fail in its role, to fully exercise the responsibility assigned to it under Article 24, paragraph 1, of the Charter, that of the “maintenance of international peace and security”. By virtue of legal logic, and under the terms of international law, the measures contained in Article 41 of the Charter should be reversed, because they are, on the contrary, deserved by the countries having initiated the blockade against a State that is innocent from every point of view, according to the spirit and the letter of Article 39 of the Charter.
The Convention on the Law of the Sea has also been violated, since it stipulates the right of States to passage through the territorial waters of coastal States. That same Convention also stipulates, in part X, articles 124 through 132, the right of land-locked States to access to and from the sea and freedom of transit.
Fifthly, and lastly, we have the cruel consequences of the economic blockade on the entire people of Burundi.
Before the new regime came to power, many political and humanitarian initiatives were being taken in our region at the governmental level, as well as by facilitators, in order to save the people of Burundi from the disaster of genocide. Since the assumption of power by a Government that is infinitely more able to work towards saving the nation, and therefore to dispel the sense of impending danger, those same actors in the region have been joining together to decree collective death for the Burundi people. How can we understand this colossal and alarming paradox? Yesterday, the prevention of genocide was the priority objective of those States and other main actors. What we are talking about is the difference between genocide by firearms and hand-to-hand weapons and possible genocide by Draconian economic sanctions.
If we underscore the cumulative factors and the multiplication of effects, the Security Council and the international community will be able to gauge the immense gravity of the economic blockade.
Firstly, coffee is Burundi’s main export product. The great majority of farmers produce only coffee. The embargo makes it impossible for them to distribute their only income-generating product abroad. It is the rural farming population that is affected, not the Government.
Secondly, there is the impending health crisis. A statement was made by the national doctors’ association the day before yesterday to the effect that deadly illnesses are imminent because it is impossible to obtain medical supplies or instruments or to use operating rooms for the seriously ill.
Thirdly, there is also a dangerous aggravation of an economy already severely tried by a crisis that has persisted for three years now.
Fourthly, we are faced with the disastrous consequences for hundreds of thousands of displaced and repatriated persons.
Finally, there exist the combined deadly effects of being land-locked and having economic sanctions imposed on the population.
In the face of this paralysing economic strangulation, decreed unilaterally by our neighbours, which should be cultivating natural human solidarity more than ever with a Burundi immersed in a state of distress, we are once again threatened with genocide, the causes of which everyone is seeking to eradicate, but which could re-emerge owing to those measures that run counter to legal and humanitarian principles.
In this statement I have underscored the clear way in which these economic sanctions violate the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, the African Charter of Human Rights, the Convention on the Law of the Sea and traditional international law.
Even if all those treaties were non-existent, the Security Council would have to establish ad hoc mechanisms and solutions if it were not to be held responsible before history for endorsing this steamroller that is in the process of crushing the people of Burundi. Many of the States members of the Security Council have distinguished themselves as champions of humanitarian ideals. Would they be crowned with glory if they were to endorse or allow the gratuitous immolation of the entire people of Burundi?
The accession to power of the new regime through special channels and because of national imperatives was required because of the need for a historic act of patriotism to save a people about to vanish into the darkness. The path taken by Burundi in endorsing this change of regime to lead the State is not a unique exception to democracy. The democratic ideal has an abundance of flaws, in form and substance in the world, in Africa and in our region, in both practice and in principle. None the less, out of total respect for the democratic choices that have been made in other countries and for the sacrosanct sovereignty of States, Burundi strictly refrains from expressing any criticism of them whatsoever.
By virtue of this code of conduct, which is inspired specifically by democracy and by international law as reflected in the Charter of the United Nations and that of the Organization of African Unity, my country refrains from interfering in the internal affairs of other Governments and from taking upon itself the right to threaten or to impose on them any type of sanctions on any pretext or on the basis of some unsolicited and one-sided quixotic spirit. At this stage the question arises as to whether Burundi, either today or in the future, will be able to reciprocate by taking coercive measures against any of those States if certain democratic principles or practices are dispensed with there.
In conclusion, in the name of certain noble doctrines or ideals, some champions of this devastating embargo against the people of Burundi have publicly and energetically come out against similar measures adopted or announced by Powers outside of Africa. Some Africans that in the past have condemned the sponsors of economic sanctions from the West are today the most zealous advocates of the same evil that before they denounced. Some Western States, if they join in decreeing this crushing embargo, might even find themselves the target of the anger of the champions of the embargo. One adores the god that one immolated the day before.
One day in the courtyard of the Temple Jesus was surrounded by an enormous crowd. The scribes and the Pharisees, wanting to show their zeal for socio-religious puritanism, brought before Jesus Christ a woman who had been accused of adultery, claiming that such women in such a situation should be stoned, according to the Law of Moses. They wanted to set a trap for Jesus so that they could then bring accusations against him on the basis of this travesty. After deep reflection, and with his unfailing honesty, he made the following clear-cut statement. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (The Holy Bible, Saint John the Apostle 8:7)
I thank the representative of Burundi for the kind words he addressed to my predecessor and to me.
Let me remind speakers that the Council has agreed on a new practice according to which speakers are encouraged to forgo the expression of compliments at the beginning of their statements.
The next speaker is the representative of Ireland. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union. The following associated countries — Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia — align themselves with this statement. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have also aligned themselves with this statement.
The European Union has followed closely the evolving situation in Burundi. It has expressed its deep concern at the disturbing developments there, most recently on 19 August 1996. We have taken the opportunity of this debate today to call on all sides to stop the violence and to commit themselves to, and work actively towards, a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the crisis.
The European Union supports the efforts of the regional leaders, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the former President of Tanzania, Mr. Julius Nyerere, to assist Burundi to overcome peacefully the grave crisis that it is experiencing. We encourage them to continue their efforts to facilitate the search for a political solution. The European Union has recently appointed a Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mr. Aldo Ajello, to assist in the search for such a solution.
The report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi documents fully and clearly the enormity and seriousness of the political and humanitarian situation in Burundi. All steps must be taken to ensure that there is no further loss of life.
In this context, the European Union considers it essential for a dialogue to be organized without delay, bringing together all of Burundi’s political forces without exception, including representatives of civil organizations, in order to negotiate a democratic, institutional consensus capable of ensuring security for all.
Only when all sections of society are able to participate freely and fully in the principal institutions and bodies of the State can national reconciliation and peace be restored on a lasting basis. As the Secretary-General has said, the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution. Political mechanisms have to be found to share power in a way that will allay the fears of both sides and gradually build up the confidence that will enable them to live in harmony. We fully endorse this view.
The European Union urges all sides in Burundi to call an immediate cease-fire. The process of reconciliation cannot begin as long as acts of violence, which continue unabated, are perpetrated. The safety of all Burundians must be fully respected. We remain utterly convinced that violence cannot provide the answer to the crisis in Burundi. Only the inclusive dialogue that the international community and the regional leaders have called for is capable of achieving this. The guarantees that both communities in Burundi require can emerge only from a process that includes all sections of society.
We do not underestimate the complexity of the task ahead. Political exploitation of animosity and suspicion between the various communities in Burundi have made it much more difficult to find a common ground on which to begin to build the process of reconciliation. A new relationship based on trust and on confidence must be established. To this end, the prevailing culture of impunity needs to be properly addressed. Each side must find the confidence to compromise enough so as to reconcile its often conflicting interests. The willingness to engage in dialogue is almost the most basic test of political responsibility; the willingness to cast aside inflexible positions is the test of political courage.
The European Union and its member States have made significant contributions at both the multilateral and the bilateral level to alleviate the plight of the people of Burundi. The Union reaffirms its willingness to support Burundi’s recovery efforts, once the necessary national reconciliation is embarked upon with all the resolve required.
The European Union wishes to reiterate the utmost importance that it attaches to the prompt and satisfactory resolution of the situation of those who have sought protection in European Union and other foreign missions in Bujumbura.
The European Union believes that today’s debate in the Security Council will serve to underline the concern of the international community at the seriousness of the situation in Burundi. It will also show the support for the very considerable efforts of the regional leaders, the OAU and former President Nyerere to restore the basic democratic institutions in Burundi and to relaunch the process of dialogue between the various parties. We believe that a very clear signal has gone out to all sides in the Burundi conflict. There must be an end to all violence. There must be a beginning, without delay, to all-inclusive dialogue. This is the only path to the lasting solution we all seek, a solution based on a negotiated democratic and institutional consensus, which ensures security for all.
The next speaker is the representative of Belgium. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Belgium would like to concur with the statement by the Permanent Representative of Ireland, who spoke on behalf of the European Union.
Belgium remains deeply concerned by the situation in Burundi. The recent coup d’état was rejected by the international community. Aware of the possible regional repercussions of the Burundian crisis, Belgium, like its European partners, welcomes the diplomatic action taken by the Heads of State of the region to help Burundi overcome peacefully the serious crisis it is now going through, and encourages them to continue their efforts to facilitate the quest for a negotiated political solution.
Belgium would like to avail itself of the occasion of this Security Council debate to express its support for the regional leaders, for the Organization of African Unity and for the former President of Tanzania, Mr. Julius Nyerere, for the efforts they have been making to help Burundi in its quest for peace. We would appeal to all the parties in Burundi to cooperate fully and constructively in these efforts.
Belgium calls for the immediate cessation of all acts of violence in Burundi, regardless of who its perpetrator might be. It calls for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire between the warring parties in Burundi.
A cease-fire is the first step in the process of national reconciliation and the reconstruction of the country. It is only by respecting the security of all Burundians that peace can be restored to that country. The peace process will then require dialogue and the initiation of talks that would include all political forces without exception. If this dialogue is to be fruitful and if a lasting civil peace in Burundi is to be restored, Belgium believes it essential that the National Assembly and the parties should play a role in the reconciliation process.
To that end, the political leaders should shoulder their responsibilities as quickly as possible and show a sense of statesmanship and democratic resolve.
Belgium, together with its European partners, considers itself to be committed to this political process that is to lead Burundi to peace. The Government has contributed both financially and materially to the various initiatives launched by the Organization of African Unity and by President Nyerere. Belgium remains prepared to make substantial contributions to any economic reconstruction effort once peace has been restored to Burundi.
The next speaker is the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me at the outset to extend to you my delegation’s congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for the month of August. It is a pleasure to see the manner in which you have been discharging the heavy responsibilities entrusted to this Council. We equally pay tribute to your predecessor, Ambassador Alain Dejammet of France, who did remarkable work in guiding the deliberations of the Council last month.
Sharing a common border with Burundi, my country has over the years witnessed this endemic problem simmer until it reached a cruel and destructive ethnic violence, claiming the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children, destroying property and causing massive numbers of refugees and displaced people. This situation has not only brought misery, insecurity, instability and a sense of pessimism to the subregion, it has also caused ecological and environmental damage to the area.
Most conflicts of this nature transcend borders, and our border is no exception. My country has been adversely affected by this conflict, both socially and economically. Thus, the positive developments of July 1993, when Burundi, under a multi-party democracy, elected Melchior Ndadaye President, were followed with keen interest, optimism and relief in Tanzania. The Government, and indeed the people of Tanzania were delighted that at long last there was a permanent solution in the neighbourhood.
The present report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi, contained in document S/1996/660, emphasizes the culmination of the brutal 1993 assassination of President Ndadaye and the subsequent massacres only a few months after power changed hands. The political maturity displayed during and after the general elections by Pierre Buyoya, who gracefully handed over power to the victor, was unceremoniously shattered once again, giving way to a difficult situation which has left the country fragmented and has compounded the problem of mistrust among conflicting parties.
We are all aware of the concerted efforts made by former President Julius Nyerere to engage the Burundi political parties in dialogue in an endeavour to find a lasting solution to the problems in the country. The report of the Secretary-General aptly points out that President Nyerere’s efforts were undermined by some factions inside and outside Burundi, in spite of the support he enjoyed from President Ntibantunganya, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the international community at large.
It is against this backdrop that the coup of July 25, 1996 has to be condemned in the strongest terms, as it has deliberately reversed the democratic process in the country, basically returning Burundi to its state prior to the 1993 elections. Any attempt to condone this coup will send the wrong signal to the current regime in Burundi and to the international community in general. We should be categorical and send a clear message that, whatever the circumstances, any coup is illegal and, in any case, it is an outmoded and obsolete way of assuming political power.
Talking to the press in Windhoek last week, President Benjamin Mkapa rightly observed,
“the issue of derailing the Burundi democratic process and peace negotiations was not only a matter of concern to the East and Central African region, but also to the entire world community.”
We have every reason to be concerned with the turn of events in Burundi, which have jeopardized the democratic process and the peace process. Our greatest fear is the further deterioration of the situation into a full-fledged civil war with tragic and disastrous consequences.
My delegation, at this juncture, would like to express its satisfaction and total support for all the decisions taken during the Arusha regional summit on 31 July 1996 which, among other things, decided to impose economic sanctions on Burundi and appealed to the international community to support its decisions. We fully subscribe to the objectives of the sanctions, which are aimed at restoring constitutional order and at creating conditions for genuine negotiations encompassing all parties to the conflict, in accordance with principles and objectives enshrined in the first Arusha regional summit. Members of the Council will recall that the Arusha “peace plan”, which emphasizes democracy and security for all the people of Burundi, was endorsed by the Organization of African Unity summit in Yaoundé.
Let me take this opportunity to reiterate and underscore the salient decisions unanimously agreed to at the Arusha summit. First, the Bujumbura regime should immediately undertake specific measures aimed at returning constitutional order, including the immediate restoration of the National Assembly, which is a democratic institution of legality that has derived its mandate from the Burundi people, and the immediate unbanning of political parties in the country. Secondly, the regime should undertake immediate and unconditional negotiations with all the parties to the conflict. These negotiations should include parties and armed factions inside and outside the country. Thirdly, the framework of these negotiations should be the Mwanza process, reinforced by the Arusha peace initiative, under the auspices of Mwalimu Nyerere, which seeks to guarantee security and democracy for all the Burundi people.
A misguided concept is currently being floated by the Bujumbura regime that the Arusha decisions, especially the imposition of sanctions, are interference in the sovereignty and internal affairs of Burundi. We are firmly of the view that these decisions are the only viable means to assist the people of Burundi to settle their differences amicably. We therefore call upon the Buyoya regime to make a deliberate and genuine move to fully implement the demands of the second Arusha summit in order to pave the way for peace negotiations to commence.
Tanzania would once again like to appeal to the international community, especially to the members of the Security Council, to support the regional efforts on sanctions on Burundi since it is the only viable way of restoring constitutional order in the country. These sanctions are meant to shape the future prosperity of the people of Burundi. They are meant to articulate the fundamental principles of democracy in the country and, above all, they are meant to stop genocide by asking the Buyoya regime to retrace its footsteps to constitutional governance.
I thank the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania for his kind words addressed to my predecessor and to myself.
Let me remind speakers that the Council has agreed upon a new practice, according to which speakers are encouraged to forgo the expression of compliments at the beginning of their statements.
The next speaker is the representative of Canada. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Canada has deplored the military takeover that contravened the constitutional and legal institutions of Burundi. A forcible takeover is no substitute for dialogue between all the factions and parties involved to restore social and political peace to a country. The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, has stated that such an act will never solve Burundi’s long-term problems. Only a new political agreement, respectful of democratic principles and minority rights, will help solve them. Canada fully subscribes to the constant efforts of Burundi’s neighbours to promote effective negotiations between all the Burundian parties concerned.
For many months, Canada has been striving to encourage a peaceful, lasting solution to the disputes rampant in central Africa’s Great Lakes region. We support the noble mediation and facilitation efforts undertaken by Mr. Julius Nyerere, former President of Tanzania. Last June, Canada’s Prime Minister appealed to the region’s Heads of State to do everything they could to find a peaceful, lasting solution to the region’s political and social problems. (spoke in English)
The takeover of 25 July put an abrupt end to efforts designed only to support the institutions which the Burundian people freely acquired in a transparent and democratic manner. In 1992 and 1993, the Burundian people spoke loudly and clearly; now, three years later, the army is again trying to silence them.
Canada is very pleased to see that the region’s leaders stand behind the core principles that must underlie the management of a government and the search for solutions to political disputes.
Canada fully supports the firm, courageous stance taken by the Heads of State in Arusha last 31 July. The entire region clearly desires to see the new authorities now in Burundi take the route of negotiation and respect for the democratic principles that we all share. We are pleased that the Security Council is considering additional steps it might take in support of this outcome.
The attacks by both sides on innocent civilians must cease. We must turn towards the future if we are to overcome the difficulties of the past. Sectarian interests must give way to the legitimate interests and concerns of the Burundian people at large. As part of Canada’s collective and unanimous support for the efforts of Mr. Nyerere, Canada’s Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for la francophonie chaired a meeting last June in Geneva involving interested contributors and the Burundian authorities. The purpose of the meeting was to help develop the outlines of a transitional economic-assistance plan for Burundi, to be implemented once peace is restored.
It is worth repeating here what the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew’s stated recently:
“like other donor countries, Canada is quite prepared to support the reconstruction of Burundi. However, this can only be done in a climate of political stability and peace. There must first be negotiations. Canada joins with the countries of the region and demands that a dialogue for peace be initiated immediately.”
While it is for Burundi to find its own course in dignity and freedom, the whole international community must join with the region in declaring, with one voice, enough is enough.
The next speaker is the representative of Australia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
This open debate presents a timely opportunity to examine the situation in Burundi and how the international community can respond effectively to recent developments there.
Australia is seriously concerned about recent developments in Burundi. It holds grave fears that unless the parties to the conflict, with the support of the international community, can reach a negotiated settlement, the cycle of violence will escalate, causing violence and bloodshed on a horrific scale and further upheaval and human misery throughout Burundi and the Great Lakes region.
We urge all sectors of Burundi’s population to engage in constructive dialogue to bring about a peaceful, durable solution to the conflict in Burundi and to achieve, without delay, the restoration of democratic institutions and processes.
In particular, Australia calls upon all sides to exercise restraint, thereby creating an environment which allows for their fears to be put aside and for the restoration of confidence throughout the community. Australia urges the parties to the conflict to recognize that continued violence will not bring peace to Burundi.
Australia commends the efforts of countries in the region to find ways to restore peace and democracy in Burundi. My Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alexander Downer, attended the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Yaoundé from 8-10 July 1996, as a guest. He was impressed by the determination of African leaders to work for a solution to the situation in Burundi.
In welcoming the regional initiative, the Australian Government emphasizes the importance of implementing measured responses which, as well as seeking to bring about a political solution, ensure that the basic needs of the population can be met.
Unimpeded provision of, and access to, humanitarian assistance is imperative if the situation in Burundi is to be stabilized. Further human displacement will have serious ramifications for peace and security throughout the Great Lakes region and its prevention must be regarded as a priority by the international community. Should further upheaval lead to an exodus of refugees from Burundi, the international community must be prepared to come to their assistance.
Australia continues to support the Mwanza peace process, facilitated by former Tanzanian President Nyerere, and urges the parties involved to resume negotiations under this process. While the hurdles are significant, the mediation efforts of Mr. Nyerere must be given every chance to succeed, representing as they do the most realistic opportunity for pursuing dialogue between the key players. The momentum towards peace established during the early stages of the Mwanza peace process must not be lost.
If intervention by outside parties is left as the only means to prevent a slide into anarchy and genocide, there is an obligation upon Members of the United Nations to see that the objectives of such action are clearly defined and that the means of achieving them are sufficient and well prepared. With that contingency in mind, the Secretary-General must continue, in conjunction with the OAU, to plan for the prevention of another humanitarian disaster, an outcome which the international community is not prepared to countenance.
Australia has sought to play a modest but constructive role in efforts to resolve the present crisis in Burundi and to assist in the process of peace-building in the wider region. To this end, we have contributed financially to the Nyerere peace initiative, to the peace fund of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, and to the International Peace Academy Conflict Management in Africa Programme.
The Council must not become complacent over Burundi. It is imperative not only that it monitor the situation there but that it continue its efforts to examine how best to encourage all sides in Burundi to work together for an enduring political settlement.
The next speaker is the representative of South Africa. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
My delegation would like to thank you, Mr President, for convening this meeting, which provides us with an opportunity to voice our concern at the disturbing turn of events in Burundi.
The report of the Secretary-General sketches a very disturbing picture of the situation in Burundi, which is bedevilled by strife and ethnic conflict of immeasurable dimensions. The international community has become accustomed to hearing of the most atrocious of deeds and of a total disregard for human life.
The ordinary men and women in Burundi have no way of knowing whether the first rays of a new dawn will bring hope or signal the beginning of more tyranny. It is for this reason that my delegation is very concerned about the recent military coup in Burundi and believes it is bound to delay the realization of an early solution to the conflict.
We in Southern Africa have lived under and succeeded in overcoming the scourge of apartheid. This achievement was facilitated by the unyielding support of the international community to complement our efforts. We therefore concur with the report of the Secretary-General that the gross disregard for the rule of law and the contempt for constitutional and elected organs by those who carried out the coup is not conducive to the creation of conditions to achieve lasting peace but will
“reinforce the fears of one side and strengthen extremists on both sides. It will increase violence and add to the suffering of Burundian” (S/1996/660, para. 47)
The international community can no longer allow acts of unbridled violence to continue with impunity. Those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law should be made to realize that they are individually responsible for such violations and will be held accountable.
My Government also agrees with the observation in the report that the complexities of the Burundian conflict require, in the first instance, political dialogue and solution. Military intervention should be considered only as a last resort if the situation deteriorates drastically. In this regard my delegation supports fully the Arusha initiative and the Mwanza peace process of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, which includes the imposition of sanctions against the Buyoya regime. We see sanctions as a means to achieve the political resolution of the conflict and not as an instrument of punishment. It is our belief that sanctions are the most effective and appropriate means of pressing for a speedy end to the strife in Burundi.
These initiatives can only help to save Burundi from further carnage and create conditions conducive to the restoration of legal constitutional institutions. We believe that the resumption of an all-inclusive negotiation process without preconditions will serve to ensure peace and security for all the people of Burundi.
The momentum gained by sanctions and other efforts of the countries in the Great Lakes region should not be lost. It is important that the international community act in unison with the region by giving support to efforts already in place and by ensuring that a process of dialogue aimed at establishing a comprehensive political settlement is achieved.
It is the sincere hope of my delegation that the sanctions being applied to Burundi will lead the parties to the negotiating table and that the deployment of a peace-keeping operation or an intervention force under Chapter VII of the Charter will not become a necessity. The international community must act, and act now, to bring about peace and end the cycle of violence in Burundi.
The next speaker is the representative of Uganda. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
We welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate on the situation in Burundi, a sister country torn by conflict and civil strife.
As the Council is well aware, the leaders of the Great Lakes subregion have met on several occasions to work out an acceptable and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Burundi.
Throughout all these meetings, the leaders have reiterated their opposition to resorting to unconstitutional means to resolve the problems of Burundi and warned that they would not accept any government that comes to power through such means. Sadly, subsequent events in Burundi did not occur in accordance with our recommendations and advice, but instead the army moved in to grab power from democratically elected leaders.
Uganda, as well as its sister States in the subregion, unequivocally condemned the putschists in Burundi and demanded a speedy return to constitutional governance.
The Security Council is also aware that we have imposed sanctions on Burundi as a result of the coup. The sanctions, however, are not meant to punish but rather to encourage the leadership in Bujumbura to undertake urgently measures aimed at restoring constitutional order in the country. The sanctions are also aimed at encouraging all parties to the conflict in Burundi to hold unconditional negotiations within the framework of the Mwanza peace process, reinforced by the Arusha peace initiative under the auspices of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, as a first step towards guaranteeing security and democracy for all the people of Burundi. In this regard, the leadership in Burundi must, first, restore and work with the national Parliament and, secondly, lift the ban on and work with the various political parties.
The unfortunate victims of the conflict in Burundi have often times been innocent civilians caught in the middle of this situation. Uganda condemns, therefore, in the strongest terms the killing of innocent and unarmed civilians. This, to us, is unacceptable. We demand that both parties to the conflict halt immediately the killings and massacres of innocent civilians.
The regional leaders have declared their readiness and preparedness to cooperate fully with the United Nations to make appropriate contributions towards the adoption of measures aimed at avoiding a catastrophe in Burundi in the event of further deterioration of the situation and to redress tendencies that would aggravate the conflict in Burundi. In this context, we would like to underscore the importance of closer cooperation and better coordination between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), as well as with the countries of the region.
Finally, Uganda believes that the people of Burundi must realize that they have to learn to be tolerant of each other and to live together in harmony, as they all have a right to live in Burundi and to fully participate in its economic, social and political life as equal citizens. A political, rather than military formula, will bring them closer to that goal.
The next speaker is the representative of Japan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Like previous speakers, we have followed the situation in Burundi with apprehension, and we welcome this opportunity to discuss this matter in the Council. We have particularly been appalled by the vicious cycle of attacks and reprisals, which have often resulted in the deaths of numerous innocent civilians. We are gravely concerned by the recent, unlawful seizure of power. The use of force and violence by any party in order to advance political objectives cannot be allowed to continue.
In order to mitigate the plight of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda seeking refuge in such countries as Zaire, Japan extended humanitarian assistance totalling some $54 million in the course of its previous fiscal year. This was implemented mainly through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. We contributed a further $10 million this year to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect and assist these refugees.
As the recent report of the Secretary-General indicates, the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution. It is imperative that all the parties refrain from the use of force and resume dialogue and negotiations in order to seek an early political settlement. Only such efforts can put an end to the turmoil in Burundi and bring stability and development to the country. We commend the efforts of former President Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania to facilitate negotiations between the Burundi political parties, as well as the initiatives of the Organization of African Unity, as an important African effort to resolve an African conflict. We urge the parties concerned to resume negotiations through the Mwanza peace process as soon as possible.
While urging the Burundi parties to negotiate, we must also give them an incentive to do so. The international community should thus make it clear to them that a comprehensive political settlement will open the way for cooperation on the reconstruction and development of their country. Japan accordingly supports the idea of holding an international conference at an appropriate time and in a suitable format, following such a settlement.
In this connection, I might mention that the Japanese Government will host a symposium next month in Tokyo on a related set of issues: the problems which African countries have faced in the wake of political settlements of perennial conflicts, how a truly durable peace can be achieved, and how to promote reconstruction and development despite the difficulties they face. Participants will include senior United Nations staff members, Permanent Representatives of various African countries and other authorities on these questions.
We have also noted with alarm the Secretary-General’s warning that if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality there could be a genocide in Burundi, and his appeal for concerned countries to undertake contingency planning. While Japan is not in a position to provide personnel or logistical support for a multinational force, it will consider the possibility and modalities of a financial contribution, based on the plan’s details as they become more clear.
I wish to conclude my statement by appealing to all the Burundi parties to commit themselves to dialogue in order to achieve a comprehensive political settlement and create the necessary conditions for national reconciliation.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Ethiopia, in which he requests 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 that representative 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.
The situation in Burundi has continued to deteriorate, reaching its present extremely alarming and worrisome stage. Today more than ever it has become a matter of serious concern to the international community in general and to Africa in particular. The efforts made at the international, regional and subregional levels to assist the parties to the conflict in Burundi in finding a political solution to the problem in their country have not produced the desired result.
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) has been working actively to assist the people of Burundi in regaining peace and security. The diplomatic efforts by the Organization of African Unity and the presence of its military observer mission in Burundi have demonstrated Africa’s concern at the escalation and turn of events in that country in the past three years.
The laudable peace initiative and the mediation launched by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, followed and enforced by the Arusha regional summit of 25 June 1996, had given rise to new hope and optimism in the search for a political settlement of the crisis in Burundi.
The Heads of State and Government of the Great Lakes subregion, including Ethiopia, at their summit held in Arusha on 25 June 1996, reiterated the responsibility of the leadership of Burundi to restore peace and harmony to the Burundi people, and accepted the request by the constitutional Government of Burundi for security assistance aimed at guaranteeing peace and security for all the people of Burundi in their quest for a peaceful political settlement of the crisis in their country. The summit established a technical committee to look into the modalities of extending such security assistance to Burundi, and expressed its profound appreciation and support to the mediation efforts of former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Regrettably, the hope and optimism created by the Arusha regional peace initiative and by the efforts of Mr. Nyerere were slowed as a result of the military takeover in Burundi. The military coup d’état not only posed a serious challenge to constitutional order and legality in Burundi, but also threatens the peace and security of the country as a whole.
The international community rose in unison in condemning unequivocally the military takeover and in demanding the prompt and unconditional return of Burundi to its constitutional Government, including the restoration of its elected National Assembly.
The second Arusha regional summit, held on 31 July 1996, recognized, among other things, that the immediate problem with the current political situation in Burundi is that of illegality, which could lead to the cessation of the peace process and deepen the conflict in the country. In this connection, the summit called upon the military regime to undertake measures aimed at returning to constitutional order, the immediate restoration of the National Assembly and the immediate unbanning of political parties in Burundi. To ensure the implementation of these immediate demands, the regional summit decided to exert maximum pressure on the military government, including through the imposition of economic sanctions. The summit also called upon the international community to support the efforts made and measures taken by the countries of region.
The initiatives of the OAU and the Arusha group are aimed at creating an environment conducive to negotiation and peaceful political dialogue among all political forces and parties in Burundi. There is no question or ambiguity as to the ultimate responsibility of the political leaders and people of Burundi to find a lasting solution to the problem in their country. It should be pointed out, however, that the military coup d’état of 25 July has made the problem ever more complex, raising serious doubts about the possibility, under such circumstances, of a democratic and all-inclusive political negotiation and dialogue in that troubled region of ours. Therefore, the return of Burundi to constitutional order remains a high priority and an essential prerequisite for confidence-building and mutual trust between all parties to the conflict. We call once again upon the military government to take immediate action to restore constitutional order and legality in Burundi. We also call upon all the parties to the conflict to desist from any further acts of violence and to assume the responsibility for returning their country to normalcy and peace through a negotiated political settlement.
The immediate resumption of an all-inclusive and unconditional negotiation and a political dialogue between the parties to the conflict in Burundi, in the framework of the Mwanza peace process, is indispensable. The international community should take practical measures to assist in creating the necessary conditions for such a political dialogue and negotiation. In this respect, we should stress that much remains to be done. We share the feeling and frustration of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as stated in his report to the Security Council, that the response of Member States to the situation in Burundi has not matched the urgency and seriousness of the situation in that country. We are also of the view that efforts at the international and regional levels should be coordinated and strengthened to achieve the desired common objective of assisting the people of Burundi. In particular, we wish to stress the importance of closer cooperation and coordination between the United Nations and the OAU as well as with the countries of the region.
Finally, I wish to assure the Council that the Organization of African Unity and the participants in the Arusha initiative, including my own country, Ethiopia, are committed to continuing their efforts to help the people of Burundi restore peace and security in their country.
The recent military usurpation of power from the democratically elected Government in Burundi completed what the Burundi Army had intended to do as far back as 1993. Several reasons, some contradictory, others self-serving, have been advanced to justify this coup. I believe that it is not difficult to find reasons to defend one’s actions, however illegitimate or illegal. But that is beside the point. What is at issue, and a matter of profound regret, is that today some of the elected representatives of the people of Burundi, including President Ntibantunganya, have had to seek refuge in the embassies of Western democracies because of the undemocratic action of the Burundi Army. It was equally regrettable that the coup was not greeted with outright condemnation by all Members of the United Nations as a reprehensible overthrow of legitimate authority, as some delegations, including my own, would have preferred. A coup d’état is an illegal assumption of state power, and political illegality must not be tolerated, irrespective of the credentials of the leader of the military regime.
The coup d’état in Burundi, a country whose people have experienced indescribable bloodbaths and untold suffering in its recent history, especially shattered the hope of the international community, which had been pinned on the success of the Mwanza peace process and the Arusha initiative. History will record that Mr. Buyoya and company not only ousted the Government of Burundi; they have also derailed a promising peace process. The coup ridiculed all the efforts aimed at bringing about a comprehensive political dialogue. It defied the decision of the assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which met in Yaoundé in July and, among other things, endorsed the Mwanza peace process and the Arusha initiative.
The message from Africa regarding the Burundi coup has been loud and clear: the military regime should not be allowed time to consolidate power and give itself an undue mandate to rule Burundi against the wishes of the majority of its people. The neighbouring States have spoken with one voice and have acted in a cohesive fashion. The OAU Central Organ of the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, meeting in Addis Ababa on 5 August 1996, issued a communiqué supporting the conclusions of the second Arusha regional summit. Botswana strongly supports the neighbouring States in their determination to bring about a comprehensive political settlement in Burundi. We are therefore gratified by the decision of the European Union to also lend its support to the efforts of the regional leaders and the OAU. It is our hope that a similar message of support will emerge from this debate.
This is not the first time that African States have reacted this way to a coup d’état. It is not as if the coup leaders in Burundi were being singled out for punishment because they happen to be Burundians. In 1994 an attempt was made to unseat the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, which had assumed office after internationally observed multi-party elections. Southern African States made it abundantly clear to the coup leaders that their actions were unacceptable and the status quo ante was restored. This is therefore the second time in the history of coups in Africa that a group of African States has drawn a line in the sand and told the coup leaders that political illegality is unacceptable. This time the regional leaders have decided to back up their words by boycotting the military regime in Bujumbura. The actions of the neighbouring States deserve the commendation of the international community. The time of coups and army rule in Africa must be relegated to the junk heap of history, and military leaders must not be encouraged to assume power illegally because they are considered benevolent or moderate democrats. They have ample time to practise those attributes in the barracks.
We have already stated that there can be no justification for the overthrow of a legitimate Government. We have also indicated that anyone can find plausible reasons to explain or defend their actions. The military regime in Burundi has made strenuous efforts to justify the coup on the grounds of possible genocide. The legitimate Government was ostensibly overthrown in order to restore peace and security in the country and organize a national debate. There is no denying the horrendous and merciless killings and massacres in Bururi, Gitega, Muramvya and Bugendana. These were despicable acts of human barbarity. They are as unacceptable and unjustified as the coup, but they did not trigger the coup. If the killings prompted this coup, what prompted the coup attempt which led to the assassination of President Ndadaye? Why did the coup leaders not wait for the outcome of the Mwanza peace process and the Arusha initiative, which were clearly addressing the same issues of peace and security and national dialogue.
The answers to these questions cannot be found among the reasons for the coup which have been advanced by the regime. The real answers lie in the composition and structure of the Burundi Army. The Burundi Army appears to become paranoid and fearful of any leader who proposes any changes to its composition and structure. Unfortunately, this culture of fear which pervades the army is tearing asunder the whole Burundi body politic. The people of Burundi are engaged in a brutal tug-of-war in which one section of society lives in perpetual fear of extermination and the other section is in eternal fear of subjection. And the Burundi Army does not seem to enjoy the trust and confidence of all sections of Burundian society.
In these circumstances, it is clear that left alone the people of Burundi are unlikely to find a lasting solution to their problems. It is for this reason that we had hoped the Mwanza peace process and the Arusha initiative would be given a chance to come up with an amicably acceptable solution which could lead to the fulfilment of the aspirations of the majority, while guaranteeing the protection of the minority. The coup reversed all the gains that had been made in Mwanza and Arusha. It is in this context that the anger and frustration of the regional leaders must be understood.
The Burundi Army must also understand, and should be under no illusion to the contrary, that it cannot for ever enjoy the monopoly of the use of fire power. A day may come when the opposing forces which are mushrooming all over the place may become strong enough to challenge the Army, and the consequences of such an eventuality on the ordinary men and women on the street are too ghastly to contemplate. Peace and security for one and all in Burundi lie in political dialogue and not in the balance of military power.
Burundi has already produced approximately 200,000 refugees; 120,000 are in Zaire; 94,000 are in the United Republic of Tanzania. The large number of refugees imposes economic and environmental pressures on the host countries. The actions of the military leaders postponed the day when these people could return to their communes and brought to the fore the real possibility of an increase in the number of refugees. It is in view of this possibility that the countries of the region want an early solution to the Burundi crisis, as any further exacerbation of the present situation would have far-reaching consequences on the peace, stability and development of the Great Lakes region.
My delegation is fully aware of and sensitive to the humanitarian needs of the people of Burundi. We strongly support the efforts which have been made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in consultation with the neighbouring States and the Secretary-General of the OAU, to open humanitarian corridors. We encourage them to continue their efforts in this direction so that humanitarian goods can continue to reach all the people in Burundi.
The focus of this debate, however, should not be on the effects of the boycott of Burundi by its neighbours. The Security Council and the international community should focus attention on the objective of the boycott instead. The boycott, like sanctions, is intended to modify the behaviour of those who have usurped state power in Burundi. It is clear that the neighbouring States have made a painful but deliberate decision. The boycott is a double-edged sword. It hurts the interests of those for whom it is intended as much as those of the States imposing it. The boycott, however, seemed to be the only option open to the regional leaders.
The Security Council has been seized of the situation in Burundi for a considerable period of time now. It has adopted several resolutions and presidential statements, stating clearly what should be done to resolve the political stalemate in that country. The Council has encouraged all of Burundi’s political parties to engage in dialogue aimed at establishing a permanent political settlement. It has supported the efforts of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and has encouraged him to continue to assist the Burundians to find common ground. The regime in Burundi removed the Government from power at a time when these efforts were nearing fruition.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that the time has come for the Council to act decisively. What should come out of this meeting must be a clear statement of principle which should include the following elements: first, strong support for the neighbouring States in their efforts to find a lasting and peaceful solution which can guarantee security and democracy for all the people of Burundi; secondly, the demand that all Burundi’s political parties and factions abandon violence and engage in a comprehensive dialogue under the auspices of the Mwanza peace process, being facilitated by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, within 60 days; thirdly, imposing an arms embargo on all Burundi’s factions, including those outside the country; and, lastly, declaring its readiness to impose further measures specifically targeted at those leaders who obstruct the peace process.
Chile has felt particularly concerned over the tragedy the people of Burundi are experiencing. During recent months we have repeatedly emphasized the need for the Council to move towards more resolute action in order to save lives in Burundi and to help all the parties find peace and reconciliation. This feeling has intensified since the coup d’état of 25 July 1996, which put an end to the constitutional order and overthrew the legitimate Government of Burundi.
We are deeply troubled by the silent genocide that for years has been developing in Burundi, and we want to help put an end to it and stabilize the political situation through Security Council action.
We are concerned that the international community does not yet consider it timely to affirm that a genocide of major proportions is taking place in Burundi and to act accordingly. What can be considered genocide? Is it when 15,000 persons die, or 30,000, or 60,000 or 120,000? How much longer must we wait? Over 150,000 persons have already died in Burundi: in other words, approximately 3 per cent of the total population of that country. If we were to make a proportional calculation, this would represent about 1.5 million persons in France or in the United Kingdom, 7.5 million persons in the United States or 450,000 persons in Chile. This is the magnitude of what has already happened in Burundi, and we do not yet consider it appropriate to call it genocide.
One of the most tragic signs of these killings is that the military are killing primarily civilians of the opposite side. Both the regular Army and the armed bands are killing primarily civilians; they are not fighting each other. Every weapon that reaches Burundi is intended primarily to kill an unarmed civilian. This is why we believe it is necessary to establish a truly effective arms embargo, applicable to all the factions in Burundi. We see this much more as a way of saving human lives than as a political measure.
We are not passing moral judgement in referring to the genocide and the killing of civilians in Burundi. In this respect, no one — and I really wish to stress, no one — can cast the first stone. Unfortunately, throughout history, in all parts of the world, without exception, there have been atrocities, barbarities, acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. We are therefore not moved to action by a moral judgement, but rather by a profound humanitarian sensibility. We believe, in spite of all historic precedents, that the atrocities of the past in various regions cannot justify the atrocities of the present.
We are discussing this issue today in the Security Council because the situation in Burundi affects international peace and security. It is necessary to develop progressively certain shared rules and standards that represent the collective feeling of a universal conscience, one that rejects and repudiates certain aberrant acts. It is essential that violations of international law not continue to go unpunished.
Problems such as the one that we are dealing with in Burundi cannot, however, be resolved in the long run only from a humanitarian perspective, although this does make it possible for us better to understand such situations. We also need capability, resolve and, above all, political will. Unfortunately, this political conviction on the need to act with determination on behalf of the people of Burundi has not been fully present thus far in the Security Council. We hope that this attitude will soon change.
In the light of the coup d’état in Burundi and of the actions adopted by the African countries at Arusha on 31 July, the Security Council is faced with the need to act decisively to turn events in the right direction. The indecisiveness of the past year, as we see it, cannot go on. It is obvious that this is a very complex and difficult situation for which there are no obvious solutions. Nevertheless, it is clear that inaction is becoming the worst possible course of action.
Governments and international public opinion expect the Security Council to take a clear position and to exercise its authority under the Charter of the United Nations to help alleviate the suffering of the people of Burundi, to put the country back on the path of democracy and to contribute to the stability of the Great Lakes region. The Security Council must meet this challenge.
Towards that end, a great lesson in political determination has been given us by the African leaders of the Great Lakes region. They have displayed their capacity for immediate action and a commitment to democracy which contrasted strangely with the vacillations of those who have rightly preached the benefits of democratic systems.
The underlying foundations of Chile’s position in this matter are the following. First, we condemn the coup d’état and all those who incite violence and genocide, regardless of the source: factions, groups or parties. The violence in Burundi is not going to resolve that country’s political problems.
We give our fullest support to the African regional leaders, to the Organization of African Unity and especially to former President Julius Nyerere and his commendable efforts to reach a peaceful political settlement in Burundi. We support in particular the Arusha decisions of 31 July.
We consider it urgent that political negotiations without conditions begin and that all political parties and factions, including civil society, participate in the quest for a comprehensive and sustainable political agreement.
It is also necessary that the parties — beginning with the military regime in Bujumbura — begin to display their good faith. This can be accomplished through a unilateral cessation of hostilities and through guarantees for the protection of international humanitarian personnel and the officials of the former constitutional Government. We must help put an end to the spiral of violence and impunity in Burundi.
Although we are aware of the serious consequences that certain sanctions adopted in the region may have on the population of Burundi, we feel that it is essential to establish humanitarian corridors that ensure free access to humanitarian assistance for the entire population of Burundi, and that the Secretary-General report to us on the humanitarian implications of the sanctions.
The Security Council must call for an immediate initiation of negotiations whose objective would be a comprehensive political agreement. Once that is done, the next step is to call for effective international cooperation for Burundi.
From the reports of the Secretary-General and from what we have been told by Burundians themselves, that African country has many needs to meet, and the international community must seek a way to cooperate towards that end in order to support a political agreement. Together with the economic problems, there are important structural reforms pending, such as those in the judicial, educational and public institutions.
Furthermore, if in due course all the parties in Burundi, following political agreement, so agree and so request, it might be possible to approve a conventional peace-keeping operation that would contribute to consolidating a cessation of hostilities, help maintain stability during the negotiation process and, later, provide guarantees to all parties during the implementation of a comprehensive political agreement.
The message that must come out of the Security Council is that there are many ways through which the international community can support the spirit of cooperation and understanding between the parties in Burundi. The Security Council wants there to be agreement between the parties in Burundi. Once such agreement exists, we will be willing, and the international community must be willing, to lend support in all areas — economic, political, judicial and others — in order that Burundi may once again be able to stand on its own two feet and face its future with dignity.
If the parties do not begin negotiations within 60 days, which is a reasonable period of time, then the Security Council must be prepared to consider measures, under the United Nations Charter, aimed at those leaders who continue to promote violence and who obstruct peace agreements. It must be understood, once and for all, that when the agreements are not implemented, those who are mainly responsible are the leaders who are not leading their peoples towards the necessary agreements.
I want to conclude by saying that the military coup d’état introduces a new situation, and there are three reasons why we must act decisively, now.
The first is that although it was impossible to put it into practice, there was before the coup d’état a governmental understanding that was derailed by the military coup. In addition to that, former President Nyerere was making mediation efforts, which obviously suffered setbacks with this serious event.
Secondly, the regional community in Africa has reacted, as we know. Chile favours regional solutions and listens principally to what regional leaders think on African topics. Furthermore, it is a historical fact that there has again been a strong condemnation of a military coup in Africa by African leaders themselves, and this is something that cannot be overlooked. We cannot and must not send a signal that is at odds with the line of action being imposed in Africa.
Thirdly, this is an opportune moment. The coup d’état in Burundi is a negative milestone, but it cannot be disregarded; it is a fact. This is the time for the international community — through the Security Council in this case, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at the regional level, and all Governments concerned that are taking steps to help Burundi make real progress — to act with resolve and with the same objectives. I believe that the main task that lies ahead for all of us is to see to it that the international community speaks in unison and that it promote solutions tending in the same direction, so that Burundi will receive a single message from outside with regard to the positive aspects and the risks involved if a positive agreement is not achieved.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that we give our most whole-hearted support to former President Nyerere for the tasks that lie ahead. He is the person who has the political weight, the moral stature and the regional and international respectability needed to achieve a comprehensive political settlement in Burundi. Whatever the Security Council does must be in support of his endeavours.
We also want to thank the European Union for its latest statements of support for the African initiatives, and in particular we thank Mr. Aldo Ajello for his tireless efforts for peace in Burundi.
Our appreciation also goes to Mr. Howard Wolpe, who, on behalf of the United States, is trying to contribute to a meeting in the country at an early date. We also thank the Government of Belgium for its traditional presence in the region.
We give our support as well to the Secretary-General and to Mr. Faguy for their efforts. There are many people of good will and many countries trying to contribute on the ground to the achievement of a return to democratic processes.
In Burundi there are many who are responsible: the leaders of the various parties and factions, military officials, those who have access to lesser or greater shares of power. Among them, Mr. Buyoya and those who control the military regime have a special responsibility, stemming from the fact that they decided to carry out the coup d’état on 25 July. Having decided to take that measure, they have the primary responsibility to see to it that the country progresses towards peace.
All of them must bear one thing in mind: whatever action the Security Council takes in representation of the international community — action that we hope will be reflected in the nearest possible future — has as its sole objective to create an opportunity for the children, the parents and the families of Burundi to grow, live and, above all, to coexist, in a climate of peace, security and development. Those children, and history, will pass judgement on the parents who held political or military responsibility in the Burundi of today. At present the international community is holding a hand out to Burundi, offering cooperation and understanding if Burundians reach agreement; but at the same time it is telling them that if they do not do so, it will not leave Burundi all alone.
The Security Council has on several occasions set out the principles that would make it possible to bring about a political settlement in Burundi. To summarize these principles, it is a matter, first and foremost, of the cessation of violence, the initiation of a comprehensive political dialogue between all the parties, without exception, and finally, support for those initiatives from outside that are designed to facilitate such a dialogue.
The Council reacted to the events of 25 July of this year in the presidential statement of 29 July, in which it condemned the actions leading to the overthrow of constitutional order in Burundi. It once more requested the cessation of violence and the commencement of a dialogue that would lead to a political settlement of the crisis on the basis of institutional consensus.
The demands expressed by the Council a month ago call for a reply on the part of all the parties and leaders of Burundi. The French delegation will associate itself with the efforts of the Council to ensure that this response is a positive one and that it comes quickly.
The French delegation, in the spirit of the statement made by the European Union on 19 August, which was quoted earlier by the representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the Union, supports the efforts made by the regional leaders, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and former President Nyerere to help Burundi overcome the very serious crisis it is experiencing. Like its European partners, France is concerned by the humanitarian repercussions of the measures taken by the States in the region, particularly by the impact of these measures on disadvantaged groups. It is important that international organizations and non-governmental organizations be able to continue their work on behalf of these groups. My delegation considers that this question should be examined as a question of urgency and with the greatest possible attention.
Furthermore, the French delegation would still like a conference to be held, as soon as conditions are met, on the situation in the Great Lakes region, under the aegis of the United Nations and with the support of the Organization of African Unity.
Let me begin by expressing the Indonesian delegation’s appreciation to you, Mr. President, for convening this formal meeting to address the situation in Burundi, an issue of urgent importance to the international community. We welcome this open debate, as it provides the opportunity for Member States to express their views, which will constitute valuable input for the Council.
The international community is faced with a serious challenge to legitimacy and rule of law as a result of the coup d’état in Burundi, which has halted all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, to avert the recurrence of genocide and to promote national reconciliation, especially those undertaken by the neighbouring States and spearheaded by former President Nyerere. I would like to reiterate Indonesia’s position that a peaceful solution to the conflict in Burundi can be attained only through negotiations and dialogue between all parties. In view of the dangerous potential for this conflict to spill over to the neighbouring countries, threatening peace and stability in the region, my delegation believes that any further procrastination and ambivalence on the part of the Security Council will not only have severe consequences for Burundi, but will also encourage the spread of instability in the Great Lakes region. It is in this context that we welcome the regional and international peace initiatives, particularly the efforts of former President Nyerere, which we fully support.
The conundrum that Burundians must face in order to end any further ethnic massacres and to begin comprehensive negotiations is reflected in the views of Mr. Nyerere that to be successful, talks must find solutions for two problems: first, that the Hutu have been politically disenfranchised since independence 35 years ago and, secondly, that many Tutsi genuinely fear they will be massacred if the Hutu come to power. Hence, the conflict in Burundi stems from the deeply rooted perception that the survival of each community will be imperilled unless it secures the reins of power for itself. In this regard, we share the Secretary-General’s view that the forceful overthrow of the legal Government in Burundi, which was elected to change the status quo through democratic means, will not solve the problems of the country. It symbolizes the continued control of one ethnic group over the reins of power. Military means have only provoked further violence as the country has fallen into a cycle of violence which seems to perpetuate itself. Clearly, the coup of 25 July 1996 has only complicated the already dangerous situation by reinforcing the fears on one side and strengthening extremists on both sides. The only viable solution can be found in the establishment of a political mechanism for power-sharing between the majority and the minority.
To reach this goal, the international community should send a strong message to the leaders who are now in control in Bujumbura and take the necessary measures to ensure that, first, they undertake immediate and unconditional negotiations with all parties inside and outside the country; secondly, that they return to constitutional order and legality; thirdly, that they restore the National Assembly; and, fourthly, that they unban all political parties and assure the protection of their members. It is therefore imperative for the international community to assist in the effective organization of all-inclusive negotiations towards reaching a political settlement. It is our considered opinion that once negotiations have been undertaken in earnest, this would provide renewed impetus for the resolution of all aspects of this conflict. The desire of Burundians to break with the political traditions of the past and begin a dialogue conducive to national reconciliation has to be respected. Failure to do so will only permit the present situation of prevailing insecurity and impunity for violent acts to continue.
In this context, we commend the swift and unified response of the countries of the region against those who are now in power in Burundi. The regional leadership has indeed taken measures to pressure Burundi to restore respect for constitutional legitimacy and resume the process of finding a comprehensive political settlement through dialogue and negotiations. It is essential for the international community to lend its support to those regional initiatives. Failure to do so will send the wrong signal to Bujumbura.
The international community has a definite role to play in alleviating the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in Burundi. Given this context, my delegation fully supports the establishment of humanitarian corridors which will not only alleviate the economic difficulties due to the sanctions, but may also reduce the risk of further escalation of tensions due to the shortage of basic humanitarian needs. We would also like to place our support behind the development of contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the situation in Burundi.
Another role the Security Council can play is in promoting transparency and informing the international community of events in Burundi, both past and present. In this regard, we are pleased to note the publication of the results of the International Commission of Inquiry that investigated the assassination in 1993 of Burundi’s first elected President and the massacres that followed, in which both Tutsi and Hutu were killed. We would like to recall that all persons who committed or authorized the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law are individually responsible for such violations and should be held accountable. Those responsible for crimes against humanity and, in this case, their fellow countrymen should be brought to justice. The United Nations can also contribute to the edification of an impartial and independent judicial system, as this would solve and correct one of the fundamental inequalities and causes of conflict in Burundi.
First of all, let me voice the full support of Italy, as a member of the European Union, for the statement that the representative of Ireland made this morning on behalf of the European Union.
We appreciate the fact that the request by the Permanent Representative of Burundi, Ambassador Nsanze, to hold today’s debate was promptly granted by the Council. As the Council knows, my delegation lent its convinced support to this request, considering it an important question of principle. We strongly believe that every Member State of the United Nations — every one, seated or not seated on the Security Council — has the right to express in full and make known its country’s position on questions which it deems of vital interest to it.
The international community is following the developments in Burundi with growing apprehension. Diplomatic activity is intense, involving the direct commitment of special envoys and prominent figures from the African countries — in the first place, former President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, from the Organization of African Unity, from the United States and, of course, from the European Union. Now, more than ever, we need the close cooperation of everybody who is directly or indirectly concerned in this question. It is encouraging that the main facilitators of this process are united in their assessments and objectives. Even as I speak, President Julius Nyerere is in Rome, where he will receive an award for his relentless quest for peace.
Yesterday we learned in the news that before leaving for Rome, former President Nyerere met with Major Buyoya in Dar es Salaam. We feel that the very fact that the meeting took place, and that it took place in Dar es Salaam, is a step in the right direction: the direction of an immediate national dialogue open to all the components of Burundi society, including all civil organizations, and aimed at ending the violence and at fully re-establishing parliamentary democracy in the country.
Recent indications on the situation in Burundi, particularly the Secretary-General’s report, stress the extreme fragility of the internal situation in Burundi. Intense fighting and attacks on the civilian population throughout the country have made the humanitarian situation highly precarious. For the moment, we cannot even discard the hypothesis that the worst will happen and that a new genocide — because one has already been committed, as we understood from our friend Ambassador Somavía — might break out in Burundi. This is why the Secretary-General has asked Member States to prepare contingency plans for a peace-keeping operation to save the civilian population from fatal massacre.
It is an absolute priority, therefore, that an immediate cease-fire be reached to fend off the threat of more death, more violence and more destruction. A climate of greater mutual confidence must be established. Suspicions and distrust create, in and of themselves, fractures and greater tensions. If political dialogue can begin, a serious political dialogue of course, then Burundi can lay the basis for fully reconstructing its democratic institutions and re-entering the road towards economic development, without which, in the end, there can be no lasting peace.
Italy is aware of the close ties between the various political, economic and humanitarian problems that characterize the region and of the continued risks of destabilization. In the search for a lasting solution to the crisis, we again underline the need for an approach that is global and has a regional dimension. The presence of more than 1.5 million refugees in the region represents a highly destabilizing factor. Their return to their countries of origin in conditions of security and dignity is essential to the restoration of peace.
Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, President Nyerere, the Special Envoy of the European Union for the Great Lakes region, Mr. Ajello, and the American Envoy, Mr. Wolpe, are united in affirming that the international community’s support is essential to relaunching the democratic process in Burundi. If the Security Council wishes to activate a credible process of national reconciliation, it must express itself clearly on the objectives to be pursued.
That is why we are grateful to the Permanent Representative of Chile, Ambassador Somavía, for having presented during informal consultations a draft resolution that is meant to send a precise political signal and a concrete response to the great difficulties that Burundi is experiencing. It is extremely important, in our view, that a resolution on such a delicate and complex matter be the fruit of a full consensus within the Security Council. Two principles should guide the action of the Council. First, it should move in such a way as to encourage the parties to proceed in good faith and with good will to the negotiating table, avoiding confrontation. This must not be a question of the imposition of the will of one over the will of the other. The most important thing is that dialogue and close cooperation prevail. And, secondly, it should alleviate the great suffering of the innocent civilian population, beginning with the refugees.
In the past two years Italy has reserved for Burundi an important share of its bilateral and multilateral aid to the region. It is the Italian Government’s intention to relaunch to the greatest extent possible its humanitarian activities there and to consider new initiatives aimed at revamping our action towards African countries, with which we have long been so closely linked by historical, economic, cultural and, above all, human ties.
For the last few years, the situation in Burundi has remained a priority on the agenda of this Council. Despite the continued attention and efforts of the international community, however, there have been no signs of alleviation in the plight of the Burundian people. Rather to our despair, the events of one month ago testify to the fact that Burundi is not a land that allows the slightest room for wishful thinking.
The latest report of the Secretary-General, of 15 August 1996, gives a detailed account of the political plunge of the Burundian parties, which saw its nadir in the 25 July coup, as well as a vivid description of the precarious security and humanitarian situation, characterized by mass killings that have terrorized large segments of the population. As indicated by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, the generalized lack of safety, the climate of fear, hatred and exclusion and the prevalent culture of impunity are poisoning human relations and paralysing all initiatives to lift the country out of chaos. In particular, we note with grave concern the Secretary-General’s observation that the unfortunate event of 25 July will reinforce the fears of one ethnic group and strengthen extremists on both sides, thus increasing violence and adding to the suffering of the Burundian people.
My delegation believes that the current situation in Burundi underscores the fact that the international community should, with the utmost urgency, make every effort to prevent any further deterioration of the situation and put Burundi back on the track of dialogue for peace and a political settlement. We fully share the Secretary-General’s observation that the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution and that political mechanisms to share power have to be found with the help of outsiders. In this regard, my delegation cannot fail to express its disappointment at the inability of the Burundian parties to seize the opportunity that was created by the Mwanza and Arusha I processes, driven in particular by the relentless efforts of former President Nyerere.
In this context, I should like to stress the critical importance of the decisions of the Arusha II summit. Among other things, we highly value the resolve of the countries in the region to react in a unified, resolute and prompt manner. We fully support the measures taken at the summit to bring to bear upon the Burundian parties an optimal level of pressure so that serious negotiations for a political settlement can be reopened in Burundi. This initiative is a manifestation of the division of labour between the United Nations and the regional communities, and complements the fulfilment of the purpose of the United Nations. It also marks a historic milestone in the furtherance of the region’s commitment to democracy by pronouncing itself, in the most unequivocal terms, against the overthrow of a legitimate Government. I am certain that this initiative is bound to have a long-lasting, salutary effect on the democratic future of the African continent. Now that the regional community has come up with its own action, the Security Council has to resume its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.
Now I should like to suggest two overriding guidelines for contemplating the Council’s future course of action. First of all, we should bear in mind the importance of taking seriously into account the gravity and volatility of the situation in Burundi. Our action should be oriented towards minimizing the risk of triggering a chain reaction that could inadvertently turn the situation into a major crisis. Secondly, we cannot afford to wait too long, as this would send the wrong signal to the Burundian parties. We find it imperative to make these parties refrain from violence and commit themselves to a negotiated resolution of the conflict. All our efforts should be directed towards encouraging them to resume, without delay, a process of political dialogue that will bring together all political forces in Burundi without exception and without any preconditions.
In this regard, we strongly support the efforts that former President Nyerere, the regional leaders and other international mediators are making to help facilitate this process. To achieve this objective, we ought to consider every option at our disposal. Truly it is not an easy thing to strike a proper balance between the need for action and the risk of action. But it is not an impossible task, either.
On the other hand, there is an equally pressing need for contingency planning on a much bigger scale and of a wider scope, as is well elaborated in the Secretary-General’s report. It is unfortunate to find that this contingency planning has yet to be fully developed due to the insufficient level of Members’ commitments. My delegation is of the view that we should facilitate, with a sense of urgency, contingency planning as an essential part of our action plan. My delegation wishes to convey its appreciation to the Secretariat for the laudable efforts it has made thus far, despite many constraints, towards this cause.
Before concluding, my delegation wishes to express its belief that today’s debate on Burundi is very timely and appropriate. The time is ripe for us to take an initiative for the effective management of the crisis situation in Burundi. Today’s debate will give us precious input from many interested countries, which will be used for fine-tuning our deliberations. It is my delegation’s hope that this debate will lead us to a package of actions that will best serve the interests of the Burundian people and the international community.
Since the Polish delegation associated itself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union by the representative of Ireland, I would only like to briefly comment on the issues which are of particular importance to my delegation.
Like other members of the international community, we too are gravely concerned about the situation in Burundi. The future of that country is at stake, as is the peace and security of the region as a whole. This is a real emergency. The time has come for the Burundi leaders to find their way to peace, democracy and security. We urge them to start immediately meaningful political dialogue. It has to address the very roots of the conflict, which, as the Secretary-General rightly observed in his report, is not susceptible to a military solution. All political forces in Burundi and all segments of the society have to be given a seat at the negotiating table.
May I confirm the support of the Polish delegation for the regional leaders, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and former President Julius Nyerere, who have already displayed patience and skill in their efforts to facilitate the search for a political solution in Burundi. My delegation also wishes to declare its support for the work of the United States special envoy and that of the special representative of the European Union. We hope that the parties in Burundi will be willing to profit from that form of international assistance.
We urge the leaders in Burundi to declare an immediate cease-fire and to put an end to the continuing violence in the country. Let me express, as we have on many previous occasions, our deep sympathy and compassion for the people of Burundi, who are paying dearly for their leaders having been, so far, unable to speak one to another. The humanitarian situation in Burundi continues to cause us considerable concern. The parties to the conflict should be aware of their responsibility for the peoples’ lives and well-being.
This is an important debate. We are convinced that the views expressed in this Chamber will guide us in our search for the best response to the situation in Burundi.
On 29 July the Council called on the military leaders in Bujumbura,
“to restore constitutional government and processes, including the continuation of the elected National Assembly and civil institutions and respect for human rights.” (S/PRST/1996/32, second paragraph)
Regrettably, there has been no progress towards these objectives. The leaders of the 25 July military coup d’état in Bujumbura have taken no apparent steps to restore democracy, and the indiscriminate killings on both sides have continued.
The most recent report of the Secretary-General points alarmingly to the further worsening of the situation in Burundi and to the failure of both the civilian and military leaders either to resolve their differences or to heed clear warnings given by the Secretary-General, the Security Council and numerous world leaders.
The United States applauds the efforts of the States of the region to bring pressure to bear on the coup leaders. We will seek above all to support the objectives of Arusha in calling on the new regime to undertake immediate and unconditional negotiations with all parties inside and outside the country, to return to constitutional order and legality, to restore the National Assembly, and to unban all political parties. We also strongly support the stated intention of these States to cooperate fully with the United Nations and work towards measures aimed at avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe in Burundi.
The Arusha States have also imposed economic sanctions on Burundi. We strongly support this step and believe it indicates the determination of the regional States to achieve the goals I mentioned earlier. We also hope these sanctions will convince the coup leaders that they have no alternative but to halt the fighting and initiate a political dialogue. If this does not work, the Security Council is willing to consider further action in support of cessation of hostilities, or to compel cessation of hostilities. Such action could include an arms embargo or targeted sanctions against faction leaders, as the situation warrants. All sanctions must be carefully implemented to permit continued humanitarian relief so that they do not injure the already suffering innocent civilians in this crisis-torn country. And, of course, we should stand ready to support any genuine opening to peace and dialogue.
Further measures both at the United Nations and in the region must be carefully calibrated to events in Burundi. The fate of Burundi is today, more than ever, in the hands of the Burundians. We are sending a very strong message to both the present regime and insurgents inside and outside Burundi that the international community will not tolerate genocide and the threat this poses to peace and security of the Great Lakes region as a whole. All parties must commit themselves to a cessation of hostilities and a dialogue aimed at establishing a lasting cease-fire, an end to killing and a comprehensive political settlement.
The Secretary-General’s report correctly observes that the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution. The factions in Burundi must overcome their deep-seated distrust and fears in order to identify and establish an effective political mechanism for themselves.
The United States commends with great appreciation the efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff; the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Mr. Faguy; the Organization of African Unity and its Secretary-General, Salim Salim; former President Nyerere of Tanzania; the regional leaders from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire, who met in Arusha on 31 July; and other representatives of the international community who have, worked tirelessly to avert a further worsening of the situation in Burundi.
The Secretary-General’s report notes that the Secretariat has continued to facilitate contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response to a crisis in Burundi. While we will continue to attach our highest priority to promoting a peaceful solution based on political dialogue, my Government welcomes finalization of the Emergency Operations Plan for Burundi, which ensures that United Nations agencies can function together to provide the maximum level of emergency assistance in the event of a serious escalation of the conflict. The United States has worked closely with the United Nations Secretariat in its two-track approach to military contingency planning and continues to urge that other Governments support this effort. The international community must always allow for the possibility that the worst may happen in Burundi. The international community must avoid a replay of the horrors that befell Rwanda. The international community must do all it can to be ready to act if the need arises.
The Security Council must therefore take further action. To that end, we will be working with other members of the Council this week to produce a resolution that sends an unmistakable and frank message to leaders of the Burundian factions: stop the killing now and initiate an immediate dialogue. Without timely progress towards these goals, it will be difficult to act to avoid a humanitarian crisis. But with progress can come a return of international support.
The recent history of Burundi has unfortunately accustomed us to troubles and ethnic and political upheavals of all kinds. The domination and pre-eminence of an ethnic group that is a one numerical minority, the rebellion of the majority, the fierce struggle for political power, conflicts, confrontations, massacres, vendettas and what have you, have, unfortunately, for more than 30 years, set the stage for one of the most lethal tragedies ever known by Africa. The most recent report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi attests to this disastrous state of affairs and, unfortunately, supports this overall view.
Today, according to the prevailing moods and preferences of the time, Burundi may either claim our attention, baffle our wits, question our conscience or quite simply be shunted aside along with other matters, because some find it banal.
The people of Burundi deserve to have the Security Council turn its attention to their future, because indeed no predetermined fate should prevent them from fully and freely enjoying their future, let alone stand in the way of their progress towards national unity and peace.
The military coup d’etat of 25 July last in Burundi was a violent act that flew in the face of established constitutional order, accelerated the spiral of violence and arbitrarily usurped political power to the detriment of democracy, national reconciliation and peace in that country. There can be no doubt that this is an illegal act that tends to confirm the primacy of arms over ballots. It must be rejected and, above all, unambiguously condemned.
The people of Burundi, at the same time incredulous witnesses and innocent victims of the extremism practised by both camps, find themselves trapped in a hellish cycle of violence. The balance that was so difficult to establish has been disturbed, and violence fuelled by a hatred repressed for generations, is now breaking out, unrestrained and unappeased.
The conflict in Burundi is exacerbated by the deeply held conviction of both communities that their survival is compromised if they do not hold the reins of power. Quite clearly, this conflict does not lend itself to a ready-made solution or, even less so, to one that is imposed from outside. We have to find the sort of political machinery that can promote a sharing of power between the two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. We have to appease the anxieties of one and promote the trust of the other.
The abrupt breach of the Convention on Governance of 1994, which was the only legal framework that most of the actors on the Burundian political scene could trust enough to associate themselves with, could once again trigger a resurgence of violence and could increase and prolong the suffering of the people of Burundi.
The Security Council cannot condone the use of force in resolving the situation in Burundi. The Burundian Army and its leaders must respect constitutional legality and the institutions that derive from it. The guns must fall silent and give way to dialogue.
Indeed, we believe that national reconciliation is the only way of establishing and consolidating a lasting peace in Burundi. Guinea-Bissau appeals urgently to our brothers and sisters in Burundi to finally set aside their political affiliations, their ethnicity and their ideological leanings and honestly, courageously and promptly enter into an open and constructive dialogue in order to create a climate of trust, recognition and mutual respect conducive to peace and security for all throughout the national territory.
What do the people of Burundi expect of us? What can we undertake together, here and now, which might help return Burundian troops to their barracks and usher in pluralistic democracy in Burundi? How can we promote the restoration of constitutional legality in the wake of the coup d’etat of 25 July last? What means do we have available to us to induce, by which I mean oblige, the current military junta to respect the rules of the democratic game? What, finally, is the purpose and the scope of the sanctions that have been imposed on Burundi by its neighbours?
The resumption of dialogue and negotiations, in the framework of the Mwanza talks held under the auspices of former President Julius Nyerere, should be encouraged. It also seems to us that the sanctions imposed by Burundi’s neighbours in a selective, targeted and time-limited way against those responsible for the coup d’etat and their supporters may speed up this process. This will happen provided that these sanctions are supported in principle by the rest of the international community, and provided that they are accompanied by measures that are capable of limiting their cost to society. Any individual or collective action on the part of our States must follow that logic and should be conducive to restoring genuine legality and peace in Burundi.
In the opinion of my delegation, humanitarian action should continue. Likewise, it is essential to study, starting now, all the necessary modalities for resuming development aid once peace, national reconciliation, democracy and strict respect for human rights have become established and have finally triumphed, both in the thinking and in the conduct of all the citizens of Burundi, who will finally be brought together and will coalesce into a single, unified nation.
Honduras views with extreme concern the continuing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Burundi, exacerbated by the coup d’etat of last 25 July, and by the threat that the persistence of this situation represents to the peace and security of the Great Lakes region.
The delegation of Honduras considers that the ethnic violence, the suffering of the population of Burundi and the exodus of refugees will persist, affecting the stability of the region at large, until constitutional order is restored and the necessary political dialogue begins between the parties to allow for a broad settlement of the situation.
My delegation therefore makes an urgent appeal to the Burundian parties to make every necessary effort to generate mutual trust and to create the conditions for peace and national reconciliation. We urge them to find without delay the appropriate political mechanisms to make it possible to find a satisfactory solution to the crisis, with the understanding that only a broad and permanent political settlement providing for how the Government will be shared between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority can constitute the key element for establishing peace and harmony between Burundians, putting Burundi back on the path towards democracy and making possible international cooperation for reconstruction, development and the stability of the country. It is only through dialogue that the democratic and institutional consensus will be achieved to help bring peace, security and tranquillity to the population of Burundi.
We understand that in the present circumstances the promotion of a broad-based political dialogue in Burundi is a difficult task. For this reason, the support that this Council can give to the resumption of dialogue and negotiations under the auspices of the Mwanza peace process is important, as is the support that it can give to the efforts made by former President Nyerere to facilitate a lasting political solution to the crisis. We also consider essential the support that this Council can give to the regional efforts made and initiatives taken to help find a peaceful solution to the situation in Burundi, in particular the decisions taken at the second Arusha summit.
My delegation is aware that the present situation in Burundi represents a threat to the peace and security of the Great Lakes region. There is still the possibility of an escalation of the violence in Burundi which could attain a regional scope. For this reason we recognize the importance of the different regional and international initiatives, in particular those of the Organization of African Unity and the efforts of former President Nyerere to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Burundi.
In connection with the humanitarian situation, we believe that until an end is put to the ethnic violence, to the climate of impunity and to the violations of human rights, genocide will remain a possibility in Burundi. For this reason we are of the opinion that, at the same time as efforts are being made toward the establishment of dialogue among the Burundian parties, contingency planning must continue for a rapid humanitarian response in the event the violence should become widespread or the situation in the country worsen.
My delegation understands that it is up to the Burundians themselves to shape their own destiny and to overcome the obstacles to the attainment of peace and national reconciliation. The most important thing right now is the prompt return to constitutional order and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means. We reiterate our appeal to organize a dialogue without delay, a dialogue that by bringing together all the political forces of Burundi can allow for a democratic and institutional consensus, which is the only realistic way to find a permanent solution to the crisis.
Egypt has followed with deep interest and concern the developments in Burundi since the events of last 25 July, as well as the response of the neighbouring African States. We have followed them not only in view of their potential repercussions on the stability of this important subregion of the African continent, but also because of the movement of the Burundi armed forces to take political power and the installation of a new President which, in effect, pre-empts the arrangements reached at the first Arusha summit. Under those arrangements, a multinational African force would have been dispatched to enforce security and stability in Burundi, a notion that was initially put forward by the Government of Burundi and was later endorsed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Yaoundé.
Developments in Burundi — the most serious of which are ethnic killings and massacres as related by Amnesty International, which documented the killing of over 4,000 unarmed civilians in Gitega Province — prove that there is indeed no alternative to a political formula for power-sharing to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority communities, while taking into account the lessons learned from the shortcomings of the Convention on Governance of 1994.
It has become abundantly clear that the parties to the conflict in Burundi are incapable of reaching an agreement among themselves and that they are indeed in need of help from outside. Hence, Egypt subscribes to the efforts undertaken by the neighbouring States to achieve a peaceful settlement to the crisis. In point of fact, those States have a better sense of the root causes and dimensions of the problems. After all, it is those neighbouring States that would eventually bear the spillover consequences and risks of a festering crisis. Furthermore, such endeavours supplement the mediation efforts pursued by former President Nyerere and other mediators.
In the same vein, Egypt subscribes to the efforts made and positions adopted by the OAU, which deployed an observer Mission in Burundi over three years ago and was the first body to address the crisis there.
Egypt maintains that several measures should be immediately taken to restore constitutional legality and order in Burundi. These include the unbanning of all political parties, the restoration of the National Assembly, the initiation of businesslike and unconditional negotiations between all political and military powers in the context of the mediation efforts pursued by former President Nyerere, guarantees for the security and safety of members of the former Government, the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the targeted needy groups throughout Burundi and ensuring the safety and security of personnel of regional and international humanitarian agencies.
Egypt agrees that it is wrong to rule out the possibility of the perpetration of further ethnic massacres. Hence, we maintain that it is essential to continue contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response, in the event the international community has to intervene to save innocent lives. In this context, we feel that differences over the definition of the entity to be entrusted with the contingency planning have sent the wrong signals, in view of the seriousness of such endeavours. This must be avoided in the future when addressing such complex crises.
We sincerely hope that all parties to the conflict in Burundi will overcome the psychological barrier that prevents them from recognizing the impossibility of imposing a situation that is unjust to some parties. The citizens of Burundi must be able to put aside the tragic events of both the distant past and the present, and to embark on building mutual trust in place of distrust and fear. We hope that the current Government will recognize the expectations of the international community in this regard. In this context, we hope that the recent meeting between Major Buyoya and former President Nyerere proves to be a step in the right direction.
Egypt maintains that the problems of the Great Lakes subregion of Africa do not lend themselves to viable solutions unless the regional dimensions of such problems are taken fully into account. We hope that the international community, the neighbouring African States and international mediators will pursue their efforts to lay the ground for convening a regional conference on security and development in this region. Proper timing and good preparatory work for such a conference are crucial factors for an effective outcome. Obviously, the success of this conference will largely depend on the genuine desire of the participants to reach a lasting political solution to the problems in Burundi.
Finally, the delegation of Egypt would like to take this opportunity to put on record its appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his aides, particularly his Special Representative for Burundi.
This is not the first debate we have held in this Chamber on Burundi. What is new since the last occasion is the coup against the constitutional Government in the country and, more hopefully, the strength of the region’s response to that situation and determination to restore political and constitutional order. What has not changed, as the Secretary-General’s report makes clear, is the appalling violence which continues to be inflicted on the people of Burundi by other Burundians.
We agree with the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution, and that the international community must continue to focus its efforts on bringing the parties together to end the fighting, to restore a legitimate government and to achieve lasting national reconciliation in Burundi.
My Government welcomes and fully supports the initiatives taken at Arusha by the leaders of the States neighbouring Burundi, and the mediation efforts of former President Nyerere in particular. We welcome the principled approach of the region towards the unconstitutional change of government which took place in Burundi on 25 July, and we share their determination to press for the return of constitutional order and a negotiated settlement to end this long-standing conflict. We welcome the African lead, while believing that the Security Council and the international community also have a vital role to play.
The Council now has before it a draft resolution which should, in our view, be an important vehicle for coordinating the response of the region with that of the wider international community. We support the decisions taken at Arusha with regard to economic sanctions, but we share the Secretary-General’s concern about the possible effect of sanctions on humanitarian supplies and personnel. Humanitarian agencies must be allowed unrestricted access to those in need and must be able to operate in conditions of adequate security. We welcome, therefore, the decision of the regional leaders to establish a regional coordinating committee in Nairobi, and the assurance that humanitarian supplies will be allowed access. We call on the parties in Burundi to cease attacks on aid workers and to ensure that they can operate in secure conditions.
We also see a continuing need for the presence of human rights observers in Burundi. We commend the team there now, both on what it has achieved so far and on the courage which they have displayed in difficult circumstances.
Major Buyoya has made many public promises since 25 July. He has also taken some actions with regard to control of the armed forces which are potentially positive. At the same time, it is clear that acts of oppression continue and that there is no national consensus as yet behind his proposal for an extended transitional period before a return to constitutional government. He must respond to the concerns expressed by the regional community. We welcome the fact that he has publicly stated his willingness to enter into dialogue and that he has met with former President Nyerere. We call similarly on other parties to the conflict to commit themselves to early all-party talks.
All parties must agree now to an immediate cease-fire and enter into serious negotiations. If a cease-fire is declared, we are willing to provide practical assistance to the regional efforts to assure adequate security for all in Burundi. And, once a lasting settlement has been achieved, we are willing to contribute to international efforts to restore Burundi’s economy in support of such a settlement.
While it is right to focus on achieving a settlement, we also agree with the Secretary-General that contingency planning should continue in case regional and international efforts are not sufficient to forestall a humanitarian catastrophe in Burundi.
Finally, the responsibility for ending the killing lies with the leaders of Burundi and the factions outside it. They must act now so that a process of genuine political dialogue can begin. We encourage those who currently hold power in the country to act for their country by seeking agreement with other groups and seizing the opportunity which has been presented by the Arusha process to begin the hard, but in the long run, inescapable task of rebuilding a single nation under a constitution which enjoys the widest possible support.
We welcome the open debate today in the Security Council on the situation in Burundi and believe that this will help the international community reach a common understanding on a proper settlement of the question of Burundi.
We are of the view that the key to settling the Burundian question lies in national reconciliation, peaceful coexistence and power-sharing by the two ethnic groups in Burundi, while the only way to achieve this objective is for all parties in Burundi to cease all hostilities immediately and to enter into dialogue and negotiations unconditionally, with a view to seeking a political solution for lasting peace, stability and security in the country. We believe that the international community should also take this into consideration in its efforts to settle the question of Burundi. The pressing task for the Council now on this question is to make all Burundian parties clearly understand this situation, renounce the use of force and devote themselves to genuine peaceful negotiations.
We share the Secretary-General’s view that the Burundian question is not susceptible to a military solution and that a political solution should be found instead. There are complicated historical and present-day factors underlying the Burundian question. It is therefore by no means easy to settle it once and for all. However, we believe that this question must and can be thoroughly resolved, which will not only benefit the Burundian people, but also contribute to peace and stability in the region. The Burundian people, who have already suffered enormously from chaos and conflicts, aspire to stability. We are of the view that a final settlement of the Burundian question lies with the Burundian people themselves. We strongly urge the leaders of all Burundian parties to proceed from the aspirations of their people and their national interests; to renounce violence and pursue dialogue; to forsake ethnic hatred and strive for national reconciliation; and to halt interfactional fighting and work for their national interests. We will, as always, support all measures that will contribute to peace and stability in Burundi.
We wish to express our understanding of the efforts that have for some time been made by African countries, particularly the neighbouring countries of Burundi, for the settlement of the Burundian question. In this connection, we particularly appreciate the untiring efforts made by former President Nyerere of Tanzania in mediating the crisis in Burundi. The Chinese Government provided assistance, within its capacity, to President Nyerere in his activities to resolve the Burundian question, and we will continue to give our support in all areas in the future. We hope that the Burundian parties will cooperate closely with President Nyerere so as to bring their country back onto the path of peace, democracy, unity and recovery at an early date.
The Chinese Government has all along shown great interest in the destiny of the African people. We deeply sympathize with the Burundian people in their sufferings, caused by protracted fighting and poverty. We hope that these sufferings will soon be a thing of the past and that the Burundian people will live a happy and tranquil life at the earliest possible date. We will work together with the international community to this end.
The Russian Federation has had more than one occasion to express its deep concern at the tragic events in Burundi. The acute political crisis that has been going on there for more than three years now, accompanied by bloody inter-ethnic clashes, has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of people and has unleashed a wave of refugees and displaced persons. A large-scale humanitarian crisis is taking shape there, which threatens to destabilize this already troubled part of Africa. Throughout the entire Burundian crisis, the Security Council has been paying very close attention to exploring ways and means of handling it. We hope that today’s official meeting will provide a further incentive for efforts to be mobilized in that direction. The Russian delegation is firmly convinced that the problems of Burundi cannot be resolved by military means or by coups. We believe it is important to ensure the restoration in this country of constitutional forms of governance, both for reasons of principle and in order to provide the necessary conditions to revive an inter-Burundian dialogue. We believe that clear priority should be given to political methods.
The main things now are to prevent the worst of all possible developments — the outbreak of bloody violence — to force the leaders in Burundi to sit at the negotiating table, to ensure a lasting cease-fire and to promptly organize talks without any preconditions between the representatives of all political forces without exception.
The task of the international community and the mediators in which they have placed their trust is to promote carefully gauged and well-balanced decisions, which, on the one hand, would remove the threat of another wave of bloodshed and genocide and, on the other hand, would set the parties to the conflict in Burundi on the road to creating political machinery that would provide the appropriate security guarantees for all Burundians. Otherwise, we believe it would be impossible to really normalize the situation and to establish lasting peace and agreement.
In this connection, we have always welcomed and supported the efforts of the countries in the subregion, which have proved to be a key factor in the settlement. They have demonstrated the growing resolve of the African States to make sincere efforts to calm dangerous hotbeds of civil war and inter-ethnic conflict in their own backyard. We also have great respect for their decision, reached by consensus, to exert pressure on Burundi, including through the imposition of sanctions.
We also value deeply the aspiration of countries neighbouring Burundi to take into account the obvious consequences of these steps for ordinary Burundians and to keep open the possibility of humanitarian efforts by international organizations, because, after all, this is a matter of principle. We need to ensure the proper observance of humanitarian standards for sanctions in order to minimize their detrimental effect on the already grievous situation of the broad segments of the Burundian population that have been worn down by a protracted and bloody conflict.
Sanctions should have very clear-cut criteria and time-frames for their introduction and lifting, and they should be aimed first and foremost at extremist forces both within the country and beyond its borders — those forces that oppose the cessation of violence and are hindering a serious negotiating process. These pressures can yield the desired political effect, provided that they are quite clearly selective in nature and that they are utilized flexibly and adapted to Burundi’s domestic political dynamics, including the specific acts of each of the parties.
Here we believe that the most effective steps would be the imposition of an arms embargo on all Burundian opposition parties, the freezing of their assets in foreign banks and the introduction of other possible restrictions affecting the personal interests of the extremist leaders, until they put an end to the violence and conclude a lasting peace agreement.
It is very important that pressure tactics be backed by a clear signal to all extremist forces indicating that if acts of violence become widespread and if a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe is looming, the international community will be obliged to react accordingly. We believe that the United Nations Secretariat should intensify its efforts to provide advance planning for such humanitarian action, taking into account all possible scenarios.
We are convinced also that sending a Security Council mission to Burundi at the appropriate time could prove extremely useful to thoroughly assess the situation and to influence the parties to the conflict by stimulating them to make progress in the peace process.
Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, is aware of its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Therefore, in concert with other members of the Security Council, it will duly participate in efforts made by the international community to normalize the situation and to prevent the spread of violence in Burundi, as well as to ensure the strict observance of generally accepted norms of human rights and humanitarian law.
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Germany.
At the outset, I wish to point out that Germany fully supports the statement made by the representative of Ireland on behalf of the European Union.
The situation in Burundi remains a matter of deep concern to us. We remain, in particular, deeply disturbed by reports of massacres of civilians, which seem to continue unabated in Burundi. The violence in Burundi must stop. We are also concerned with regard to the implications of the internal crisis in Burundi for peace and security in the already troubled Great Lakes region.
The Secretary-General stresses in his recent report that the conflict in Burundi is not susceptible to a military solution. We share this view. We have taken note with interest of recent indications that political and faction leaders in Burundi might have expressed themselves accordingly.
Germany considers it essential that a dialogue be organized without delay that would bring together all of Burundi’s political forces without exception, including representatives of civil society, in order to find a negotiated consensus solution to the crisis in Burundi, ensuring security for all.
In this context, we wish to express our support for the efforts of the regional leaders, and in particular for those of former President Julius Nyerere, to facilitate the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi. We specifically support their call on the Bujumbura regime to immediately restore the National Assembly, lift the ban on political parties and undertake negotiations with all the parties to the conflict.
We also wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance we attach to the prompt and satisfactory resolution of the situation of those who have sought protection in our and other foreign missions in Bujumbura.
The sanctions imposed by the regional leaders should not, as the Secretary-General rightly mentioned, be seen as an instrument of punishment. They are a means to an end. On the other hand, they should not be allowed to add to the hardship of the suffering people in Burundi. We therefore welcome the efforts to formulate specific exemptions to the sanctions regime for humanitarian purposes.
We welcome the recent publication of the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry concerning the assassination of the President of Burundi on 21 October 1993 and the massacres that followed. We hope that this can be a contribution to overcoming the present state of impunity in Burundi, which has been described in the latest report of the Secretary-General as poisoning human relations and paralysing all initiatives to lift the country out of chaos. I also wish to reiterate the importance we attach to the renewed deployment throughout the country, as soon as possible, of human rights observers, which have so far been funded by the European Commission.
Germany has in the past significantly contributed, at both the bilateral and multilateral levels, to the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Burundi and that of the Burundian refugees in the Great Lakes region. It stands ready to support further Burundi’s recovery efforts, once the necessary national reconciliation is embarked upon.
The Security Council is currently seized of the situation in Burundi. The German delegation will continue to contribute constructively to the drafting of a Security Council resolution on Burundi. It is our hope that the discussion on the imposition of further measures by the Security Council will become obsolete as we see progress in the development of the situation on the ground.
I now resume my function as President of the Council.
I understand that the representative of Burundi has asked to speak, and I now call on him.
I am fully aware that the hour is late, and consequently my statement will be brief. I simply wish to assure the Security Council that the Burundi regime is fully prepared to enter into a dialogue with all those groups and factions that are claiming any rights whatsoever. The Security Council should thus take account of this solemn pledge by the new regime.
Secondly, it should be pointed out that the report of the Secretary-General, which on the whole does reflect the unfortunate reality, tends to concentrate on the situation that prevailed before 25 July last. This report would have been much more useful if it had been updated so as to include mention of the massacres.
Today, the situation is far from being as alarming as it was presented and described by a fair number of speakers.
In this regard, on Friday, 23 August, the Government published a statement in which it invites the entire international community, starting with Amnesty International, to immediately begin investigations of this monstrous allegation by the representative of Amnesty International in Burundi. Today I received a copy of a message sent by the Government of Burundi to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, inviting them to increase the number of human rights observers, since the current Government,
“in the face of the lethal acts of violence of all kinds which have been perpetrated for three years against the innocent civilian population”,
is firmly resolved to take all appropriate preventive and repressive measures to end the cycle of violence as soon as possible. Indeed, it intends to ensure lasting respect for human rights, integrity and the safety of all human beings in Burundi. I wish to communicate this to the Council now, before officially passing the document to you, Mr. President, or to your successor, the Ambassador of Guinea-Bissau.
Regarding the mission entrusted to former President Nyerere, eminent colleagues are often concerned with defending certain ideas. However, we had also stressed from the outset, before any external political intervention, that the new regime urged President Nyerere to reactivate the talks and bring together all the groups and parties involved in the conflict. In this connection as well, I would like to assure the Security Council and the international community that the present regime did not succumb to begging or to force. It fully intended to follow that imperative.
Finally, we might invoke a concept of a celebrated philosopher, Hegel, who was a compatriot of yours, Mr. President. He said — and I quote this without the text, but I think I quote it correctly — that “history teaches us that man learns nothing from history”. This quote is addressed to certain colleagues and certain speakers who spoke somewhat critically, possibly in a way rather disproportionate to the real state of affairs and without, perhaps, taking into account the history of their own countries. But as we have had occasion to point it out, Burundi will certainly be able to resume the true and authentic democratic process.
There are no further speakers.
The next meeting of the Security Council to continue the consideration of the item on the agenda will be fixed in consultation with the members of the Council.