Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the situation in Burundi
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in Burundi, 21 November 2018, New York.
I would like to join others in welcoming Ambassador Lauber and Special Envoy Kafando back to the Security Council today, as well as thanking them for their useful briefings. You both have our strong support in your important endeavors. We also appreciate the solid and comprehensive update in the written report by the Secretary General. Let me also recognize the presence of the permanent representative of Burundi, Ambassador Shingiro.
Since the crisis in 2015, the situation in Burundi has improved and is now, as was stated by the Special Envoy, relatively calm. But reports of human right violations and abuses, acts of violence and intimidation, and a general lack of democratic space continue. The humanitarian and socio-economic situation is dire and deteriorating. Mistrust and divisions continue to run deep, in the Burundian society, but also with neighbors and international partners.
It was therefore deeply disappointing to learn that since our last meeting the Government did not participate in the fifth session of the inter-Burundian dialogue in Arusha. That the Government has chosen to embark on confrontation with the UN Human Rights mechanisms, rather than engage in dialogue. That there is still no MoU in place for the AU observers or for resumed cooperation with the UN Office for Human Rights. That the activities of international NGOs were suddenly, although temporarily, suspended.
This trajectory of confrontation must change if we are to avoid a repetition of the crisis in 2015. Restoring confidence and trust is urgent and critical in the preparations for peaceful and credible elections in 2020.
An inclusive political dialogue, as has been stated by others today, between all the stakeholders remains the only way towards peace and stability in Burundi. Trust building measures between all parties remain absolutely key. It is in this regard important to continue to build on the progress made within the framework of the inter-Burundian dialogue, including to ensure that women are represented in this dialogue. The achievements of the Arusha Accord, remains the fundament for peace, security and stability in Burundi, and in the broader great lakes region, and must be safeguarded.
In this regard, continued regional efforts are critical. We commend to East African Community-mediator President Museveni and the facilitator of the inter-Burundian dialogue, former President Mkapa, for their tireless efforts. We now look forward to President Mkapa’s recommendations on the way forward, including the envisaged joint road map for elections. We strongly believe that the EAC-led mediation efforts must continue. We look forward to the EAC-Summit at the end of this month.
The AU also have an important role to play, including to support the EAC, and we welcome recent AU visit to Bujumbura. We reiterate the need for the MoU to be signed so that the AU observers can be effective and meet their objectives.
Continued international attention, support and engagement is key.
The launch of the National Development Plan anchored in the SDGs, is welcomed and provides an opportunity for engagement and for socio-economic dialogue. In this regard, the efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi configuration under the chairmanship of Ambassador Lauber should be actively supported. The PBC offers a unique platform for engagement and can help contribute to a common understanding of the political and socio-economic situation, as well as on the most urgent peace building needs.
International support and presence in Burundi is important, including to contribute to building trust. The United Nations country team continues to be an important partner. The process of completing the United Nations Development Assistance Framework is therefore important. We call on the Government to also cooperate with all UN human rights mechanisms. The presence of the Office for the Human Rights to carry out objective human rights monitoring and capacity building will be key and we hope that the MoU can be swiftly concluded. It is also important to continue the process of allowing the international NGOs to return to continue their important humanitarian work.
As was concluded by the Secretary General in his report, the situation in Burundi remains fragile. This has implications also for peace and security in the broader region. It is important that the Security Council remains constructively engaged. The Council’s continued support of regional efforts is crucial. We must together continue to encourage and facilitate genuine and inclusive national dialogue, ensure the respect for human rights and an end to violence, and promote the opening of political space. Only through progress on all these fronts can peaceful and credible elections in 2020 be held, and longer-term stability, peace and prosperity be achieved.
Let me turn directly to Ambassador Shingiro for a concluding remark. The doors for constructive partnership with the region and with the broader international community, to assist in your national efforts, are open. The East African Community, the African Union, the United Nations, including the PBC and the European Union, all offer opportunities for constructive international engagement. Moving forward, international support will be needed to build trust and overcome the deep divisions. We therefore strongly encourage you to make use of all this goodwill, and begin a new era of cooperation.
I thank you, Mr. President.