H.E. Jürg Lauber (Switzerland)
Chair of the Burundi Configuration
Burundi has been on the Peacebuilding Commission's agenda since June 2006 and was one of the first two focus countries, along with Sierra Leone. Devastated by two civil wars in 1972 and 1993 that saw widespread violence along ethnic divisions and hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians, the small central African nation in the Great Lakes Region is now working towards national reconciliation.
President Nkurunziza was elected in 2005; during his mandate, the implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the government and the FNL, the last active rebel force, constitutes one of the keystones of the Burundian peace process. Despite large delays, a breakthrough came in April 2009, when the FNL was formally registered as a political party, which would allow it to participate in democratic elections slated for 2010 (in which President Nkurunziza was re-elected).
On May 13th, 2015, a coup led by generals was launched in Bunjumbura in order to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza after unrest over his intent to be run for a thrid term - Mr. Nkurunziza was attending a summit in Tanzania to discuss crisis with regional leaders. The government immediately affirmed it was in control, but thousands took to the streets to celebrate in the capital. President Nkurunziza was re-elected in July 2015.
Today, the political situation remains unstable and rebel groups have engaged in armed skirmishes against government forces. Instances of Human Rights violations have been reported along with an alarming increase in hate speech which could suggest an ethnic turn of the conflict. Accusations of Burundian refugees and rebels fleeing the country into Rwanda being militarily trained and armed has strained an already tense relationship between the two countries and puts the entire regional stability at risk.
The PBC at Work
The Government of Burundi requested assistance from the international community to pursue its peacebuilding goals and the Security Council referred this request to the PBC and asked for its advice on peacebuilding in Burundi.
Following the establishment of the PBC's Burundi country-specific configuration and the identification of key stakeholders to be invited to participate in the Burundi Configuration, Member States and the Peacebuilding Support Office spent the first period of engagement trying to identify priority areas for peacebuilding. Led by Ambassador Johan L. Løvald of Norway, the Configuration worked closely with national authorities and the UN country team (BINUB) over a period of ten months to develop a peacebuilding framework that highlights critical areas for action that are essential to sustaining peace and preventing a return to violent conflict.
Endorsed by the PBC on 20 June 2007, the Strategic Framework takes into account the many existing national processes related to peacebuilding and development, including those supported by the United Nations and the World Bank, such as the UNDP Assistance Framework and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The Framework also outlines commitments and expected contributions by the government of Burundi, the PBC, the international community and others, including civil society, to addressing the critical areas identified in the document.
In cooperation with the government, the PBC identified the following key priority areas for peacebuilding in Burundi:
- Promotion of good governance
- Implementation of the Global Ceasefire Agreement
- Security sector reform
- Justice, the promotion of human rights and the fight against impunity
- Land Issues and socioeconomic recovery
- Mobilization and coordination of international assistance
- Supporting regional efforts for peace and security
- Gender mainstreaming
Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism
The PBC and the government of Burundi cooperated to establish a Monitoring and Tracking Mechanism in November 2007 to follow progress in meeting the Strategic Framework goals, implementing the commitments of all parties and consolidating peace in Burundi. Through the Mechanism, the PBC monitors developments in the country in the area of peacebuilding, hold periodic thematic discussions to further refine peacebuilding priorities and challenges, and convene a semi-annual review of progress in implementing the Strategic Framework. In Burundi, the government and other stakeholders, including civil society, would monitor the implementation of projects and progress in achieving the Strategic Framework goals through a multi-stakeholder process supported by technical working groups.
Member States and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the Burundi country-specific configuration of the PBC. These members participate in Burundi configuration meetings in addition to the core PBC membership of 31 Member States and invited observers.
In July 2015, the Organizational Committee unanimously selected Ambassador H.E. Jürg Lauber of Switzerland to succeed the chairmanship held by Ambassador Paul E. Seger of Switzerland, who had chaired the Burundi Configuration since June 2010. The first Chair was Ambassador John L. Løvald of Norway. Both Switzerland and Norway continue to participate as additional members of the Configuration.
Annual Review and Current Status
In 2009, the Burundi Country-Specific Configuration switched from a bi-annual review system to an annual one. The annual review involves an analysis of trends and review of progress in the key priority areas identified in the Framework, as well as a review of mutual commitments of the government, the PBC, the UN system and other international partners. Conclusions and recommendations emerging from the biannual review seek to inform the continuing work of the PBC in the country.
On 23 Jun 2008, the Burundi country-specific configuration had its first biannual review of the progress made and remaining challenges in the implementation of the Strategic Framework.
In the last annual review available for public consultation on the PBC website from 2012, the Configuration agreed to include subsequent reviews and records within second-generation poverty reduction strategy papers (the latest dating back to 2012 as well). Although the apparent lack of documentation from the PBC and PBSO on the Burundi CSC seems to indicate general success of the peacebuilding process in Burundi, recent steps taken to enhance UN presence in Burundi after March 18th's Briefing by the Burundi CSC chair to the Security Council indicate the importance of the issues created by the recent failed political coup d'état.
The June 20th, 2016 meeting of the Burundi configuration highlighted the importance of inclusive political dialogue in order to resolve political conflict after the May 13th 2015 failed coup; the UNHCHR has sent representatives on-site in order to evaluate the extent of the Human Rights violantions and the African Union has sent close to 100 Human Rights monitors in coordination with the PBC. The World Bank representative reminded the configuration members of the impact the political instability has had on the country's socio-economic wellbeing.
On July 13th, 2016, the configuration met to discuss the CSC Chair's recent visit to Burundi and Tanzania. The security situation was reported to have stabilised, thanks both to the efforts of the national security forces and the African Union's Human Rights observers present in Bujumbura. However, worrisome reports of human rights violations continued. The Inter-Burundi Dialogue continues under the auspices of former Tanzanian President Mr. Mkapa with inclusiveness remaining the most important factor.