The United Nations Security Council today called on the Government of Burundi and the last major rebel holdout to complete the final phase of their peace process by the end of this year and desist from any action that could lead to a resumption of hostilities in a country that has been torn by ethnic conflicts for over four decades.
Stressing the need for the UN system and the international community to maintain their support for peace consolidation and long-term development in Burundi, the Council extended until 31 December 2009 the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) to help restore peace to the small Central African country where conflict between Hutus and Tutsis has killed hundreds of thousands.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, it called on the rebel Palipehutu-FNL to work with the Government, the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and all international partners to encourage all its combatants to move unconditionally to assembly areas and to fully implement the process of disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion into national society.
The resolution called on the Government, together with international partners, to lay the foundations for the sustainable socio-economic reintegration of demobilized soldiers, ex-combatants, returning refugees, the displaced and other vulnerable groups affected by the conflict, particularly women and children.
Noting with concern continuing human rights violations and restrictions on civil liberties, including arrests of members of the political opposition and representatives of civil society, the media and trade unions, it called on the Government to broaden the respect and protection of human rights and set up a National Independent Human Rights Commission.
Expressing concern at continuing sexual and gender-based violence, the Council urged the Government to take the necessary steps, including through specific legislation to prevent further violations and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
It also demanded that the Palipehutu-FNL and other armed groups release unconditionally and without further delay all children associated with them.
BINUB was established two years ago to support the Government in such areas as peace consolidation and democratic governance, disarmament and reform of the security sector, as well as various human rights and development activities.
Burundi was one of the first two countries, along with Sierra Leone, to receive support from the UN Peacebuilding Commission set up in 2005 to help post-conflict countries determine priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.