Item 1411 - Statement by Mr. Nelson Mandela, Facilitator of the Arusha Peace Process in Burundi at the Security Council on the Situation of Burundi November 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1411


Statement by Mr. Nelson Mandela, Facilitator of the Arusha Peace Process in Burundi at the Security Council on the Situation of Burundi November 2001


  • 2011-11-15 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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Mister President
Honourable Members of the Security Council

We return to this Council for the third time to report to you on progress in the task the international community, through the leadership in the Great Lakes region of Africa, had entrusted to us in seeking for a peaceful settlement to the long simmering conflict in Burundi.

It was here that we in a sense inaugurated our role as Facilitator in the Burundi Peace Process by directly coming to the Security Council on 19 January 2000 after having paid a first visit to Arusha, seat of the Burundi negotiations, on 16 January.

Mister President and Honourable Members, we always saw our role as being in service of our world body and the international community.

We said on that first visit, and restated it in our subsequent report back in September 2000, that we were deeply grateful to the United Nations for applying its mind to, and for remaining seized of, the matter concerning Burundi. We said then that where even one single human being, one group of people, one nation, one part of the world labours under preventable suffering, it is the concern of all of us as a world drawn closer together than ever in our history.

The misery of the Burundian people, we reminded at that occasion, affects us all and diminishes the humanity of all of us. The international community turns its attention and its energy to this matter not as a favour to that country or continent. The failure of those responsible to provide conditions of security and social development to the people of Burundi does not represent some errant occurrence on the periphery. It hits at the heart of our common human obligation to make of this century one where all human beings will at last share in the security and prosperity that our planet is capable of providing.

Those were our words then in exhortation for continued and intensified support and involvement of the United Nations and the international community in the search for peace in Burundi.

Today we return to report to this Council and the world a great measure of progress, success and achievement on the part of the political leadership of Burundi.

We do so, moreover, in circumstances in the world that might have amplified our awareness of a common plight in the face of forces that threaten peace and security.

The tragic and horrific events of 11 September here in New York and in Washington starkly focused world attention on the need for us to stand and work together to ensure peace, security and stability for all of humankind. As the saying goes, freedom is indivisible; where any one is in bondage none of us can claim to be free. This is in equal measure true for peace in the world; where any people suffer under conditions of violent conflict and strife, peace in the world is under threat.

Mister President and Honourable Members, it is for that reason doubly my privilege to thank the United Nations and the international community for the manner in which they supported and were part of the Burundi Peace Process. In this they concretely demonstrated that we are living in a world where we assume increasing responsibility for being the proverbial keeper of our brother or sister, no matter where they may find themselves in plight.

The Honourable Council shall recall that at the last visit here in September 2000, we reported that an agreement had been reached amongst the nineteen negotiating parties and that the Arusha Agreement had been signed on 28 August 2000. The Agreement provided for a transitional government to be installed, that government to be in office for a period of 36 months during which the leadership of the government would change from a member of the Tutsi community to one from the Hutu community.

Since that report back, the parties negotiated amongst themselves more precise details of the transitional arrangements and on 1 November 2001 we were privileged to witness the installation of a transitional government of national unity in Bujumbura. Almost all the parties represented at the talks in Arusha are participating in that government.

We must in the first place pay tribute to the Burundian leadership. We said to the Security Council in our first report in January 2000 that we were impressed by the caliber of leadership we met amongst the Burundians, and expressed our confidence that they could find the way to an agreement to lay the foundations for lasting peace.

The installation of the transitional government vindicated our faith in the Burundian leadership. They did their country proud, and they showed the way for other countries in the Great Lakes region and on the continent.

Mister President, that country that has bled so much and whose people have suffered so grievously, have now excelled in ways that many did not think possible. They have made possible an African triumph in that Africans took the lead in finding solutions for problems on the continent. The world needs to salute the leadership and people of Burundi: the political leaders involved in the negotiations, the officers and members of the Burundi Defence Force who were very supportive of the process, and members of civil society organisations who strongly expressed their desire for peace.

The peace process was initiated by the Regional Heads of States in the Great Lakes region, and a special word of appreciation is due to them not only for initiating the process but also for their continued support throughout. They gave unstintingly of their time and energy to attend the numerous summits and in between summits worked hard at ensuring progress.

At that first report to the Security Council we said that we wished to invite to the meetings in Arusha other heads of states from different parts of the world because we believed that apart from the financial and humanitarian assistance, the international community also had a part to play politically. The effectiveness of the messages we delivered to the various protagonists in Burundi could only be reinforced by the participation of other heads of states and countries.

We must register our profound appreciation to the various heads of states who had attended summits or sent senior representatives. The manner in which African states from outside of the region rallied to support the process gave substance to the continental intention to take the lead in addressing African problems. The leaders of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Libya, Ghana and Gabon are examples of those that supported the process throughout.

The exceptional efforts to which then United States President Clinton went in lending political support to the process will remain a lasting memory of that episode in African peace-making. Without the financial and political support of others like British Prime Minister Blair, Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt, President Chirac of France, and the President of the European Commission progress would not have been possible at all.

President Chirac took the lead in organising the donors' conference in Paris in December last year. At that conference donor countries and multi-lateral organisations pledged almost half a billion US dollars towards the reconstruction of the Burundi economy and society, while there were also undertakings to have a cohort of young Burundians trained to take the lead in this process of reconstruction and development. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union were key partners in that venture.

With the transitional government now installed we believe that those funds should start to be released. The political process in Burundi, steered by a government that has legitimacy gained from negotiations, will be substantially strengthened if it is accompanied by socio-economic development making a difference to the lives of ordinary citizens.

We very much heartened by the extremely positive attitude that President George W Bush displayed towards the Burundi process, immediately demonstrating his commitment through the provision of material assistance to the unfolding developments in that country.

The rebel groups have not yet signed a cease-fire as we had hoped might happen prior to the installation of the transitional government. We do not believe that we should allow the process to be held to ransom by the unwillingness of those groups to enter into it. We have worked very hard at engaging the rebel groups and we continue to make progress through the efforts of President Bongo of Gabon and South African Deputy President Zuma. We are confident that under the leadership of these two very able leaders a breakthrough will be achieved soon. We were encouraged at the last summit held in Pretoria by the statements of the leaders of these groups that they would consider entering into negotiations with the new transitional government.

We must also thank and pay tribute to the government of South Africa for consenting to sending a contingent of their security forces to act as a special protection unit to returning political leaders. We look forward to the time when the South African contingent shall be joined by those form Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal who had indicated a willingness to participate in an eventual multi-national peace-keeping force.

We appreciate the co-operation the South African forces received from the Burundi Government and Defence Force in their preparations and deployment. And we take note with encouragement of the statements by the leaders of the armed groups at the last summit that they would respect the specific protection function of the South Africans.

The funding of that protection role cannot be expected to be borne by the South African government and we can report that in talks we had with the Belgian Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission in Brussels we received undertakings to assist with such funding.

Mister President and Honourable Members, we noted with great appreciation that this Council had expressed its support for the deployment of the South Africans troops. As we have said, we have all along seen our facilitation role as in service of the United Nations. Hence our regular reporting to the Security Council and to the Secretary-General without whose constant support progress would have been even more difficult.

We sincerely trust that the Security Council can find it in itself to expeditiously move towards a position where the deployment of peace-keeping forces can be fully authorised as a United Nations operation.

We announced during our address at the installation of the transitional government in Bujumbura that the establishment of the government marks a transition in the nature of the peace process. This was the point at which the facilitation role formally expired and the baton of responsibility passed on to the Implementation and Monitoring Committee under the Chairmanship of the United Nations representative, Ambassador Dinka.

As we undertook there, we can and shall not turn our backs on a situation we all have worked so hard to bring to this point. In as far as it is appropriate and required, we shall continue to act as what may be called a moral guarantor of the agreement and the commitment of the parties. Where our intervention is regarded as being helpful to the process of engagement with the armed groups and President Bongo and Deputy President Zuma so indicate, we shall be available to assist.

But formally and substantively responsibility has now passed on to the Implementation and Monitoring Committee and to the international community under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mister President and Honorable Members, the government and people of Burundi need all the assistance and support of the international community. That country has taken a brave and difficult step towards normality, peace and stability.

We call for United Nations involvement in the peace-keeping that may be required. We ask for political support for the process that is unfolding in Bujumbura, and pressure on the armed groups to at least announce a cessation of hostilities while a cease-fire agreement is being negotiated. And we repeat our plea for massive involvement in the reconstruction and development of Burundian society and economy.

The success of Burundi will be the triumph of all of us. And right now, humanity needs examples of peace succeeding.

Mister President and Honourable Members, I thank you for the great honour to have been able to serve you, the Secretary-General and the international community in this search for peace in that small African country.

May peace reign there to the betterment of all of us and to the vindication of the noble ideals enshrined in the Charter of our world body.

I thank you

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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