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Photo Credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret

Like neighboring Rwanda, Burundi was plagued by a protracted and very violent civil war. The war eventually claimed the lives of over 300,000 civilians. The conflict has its origins in 1993, when the country held its first-ever democratic presidential election. The new president was assassinated within months of taking office and the army later overthrew his Hutu successors. This set the scene for years of violence between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi military. In 1996, Tutsi Leader Pierre Buyoya seized power in a coup. The signing of ceasefire agreements between Buyoya's government and many Hutu rebel groups did not end hostilities. Fighting persisted and many Hutus fled the country. In 2001, former South African president Nelson Mandela brokered the Arusha Accords, establishing a Tutsi-Hutu power-sharing government. Despite the agreement and a later ceasefire between the government and the main rebel group, the conflict still continued.

In June 2004, the UN sent a Peacekeeping force (ONUB) to Burundi to monitor the peace process and to supervise the 2005 presidential elections. In September 2006, the Burundi government signed a ceasefire with the last remaining Hutu rebel force. In early 2007, a UN monitoring office in Burundi (BINUB) replaced ONUB. The new UN Peacebuilding Commission in New York took on Burundi in 2007 as one of its first cases. The country still suffers extraordinary poverty, as well as corruption, weak government and slow progress on a Truth and Reconciliation process.

UN Documents | Articles

UN Documents

Report of the Secretary General on Burundi (May 15, 2008)

Ban Ki-moon comments on the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Burundi. In 2001, the government and opposition group Palipehutu-Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) signed a peace-deal ending civil war in the country. However, in April 2008 the two sides resumed the armed conflict, with mass human rights violations committed by both parties. Ban warns that the conflict severely undermines any peace-process in the country, and recommends that the Security Council plan to expand the UN peacekeeping force in the country (BINUB).

Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Operation in Burundi (March 21, 2006)

In his report to the Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan calls for international support and vigilance as the economic and security situation in Burundi remains "extremely poor." Annan's main priority is to reach a comprehensive ceasefire agreement between remaining active National Liberation Forces rebels and the Bujumbura government by the end of 2006. The UN chief also recommends slowing down the planned drawdown of peacekeepers in the western provinces if the situation remains volatile.

Resolution 1653 (January 27, 2006)

The Security Council adopted Resolution 1653 in a ministerial-level debate on regional dimensions of peace and security in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The resolution calls on the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to disarm and demobilize militias and armed groups, especially northern Uganda - Lord - Resistance Army. The resolution also acknowledges the link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the illicit trade of those resources and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as key factors fuelling and exacerbating the conflicts in the Great Lakes. Resolution 1653 thus urges the countries of the region to promote lawful and transparent use of natural resources among themselves and in the region.

Security Council Resolution 1545 (May 21, 2004)

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved the establishment of a peacekeeping mission to Burundi for an intial period of six months, taking over the work of the existing African Mission in Burundi (AMIB).


Report of the Secretary General to the Security Council on the situation in Burundi (November 18, 2002)

This report gives special attention to the activities of the Implementation Monitoring Committee, established to enact the provisions of the Arusha Accord. It also highlights the actions of the Transitional Government.


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A Dilemma for Burundi's War Veterans: Peace and Poverty or Return to Arms? (September 29, 2011)

The Burundian civil war ended in 2005, but former Hutu rebel child soldiers who murdered, raped, and stole during the conflict are now impoverished and struggling to find work. A year after the peace agreement ended most of the fighting, Burundi’s GDP nearly halved. Thousands say the peace process failed to deliver jobs or money outlined in informal talks with government. Today, the country’s security depends upon whether these aggrieved war veterans, sidelined by the political process, will decide to live in peace and poverty or take up arms again, joining rebels who promise them spoils of war. (Guardian)


Burundi: Delays in Justice Mechanisms "Fuel Impunity" (December 3, 2010)

In 2000, the Burundians signed the Arusha Accord as the first step towards reconstruction and reconciliation after the civil war. The accord included provisions for a truth and reconciliation commission as well as a criminal tribunal, but neither have been formed. Burundians are frustrated with the lack of a justice process, but the timing is poor for the government as the peace mechanism would undermine its authority. Some observers argue that prosecuting crimes that occurred after the Arusha Accord as being more important than looking at acts that took place during the civil war. (IRIN)


Cantonment of Rebel FNL Fighters Set to Begin (June 17, 2008)

Burundi's last active rebel leader, Agatho Rwasa of the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL), declares a cease fire and initiates the encampment process for his fighters in western Burundi. Rwasa claims that removing his troops from villages in the Rugazi Commune demonstrates the FNL's commitment to the September 2006 peace accord. He urges the government to also remove its troops from the region and integrate FNL fighters into the national army and police forces. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Burundi's Peace Process Hampered by Political Crisis -  UN Report (November 30, 2007)

In a report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the political instability in Burundi. According to Ban, the government should address issues such as violent outbreaks, human rights violations and make an effort towards reconstruction. He also requested that the government continue to collaborate with the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), which provides political and technical support to national actors in conflict. (UN News)


As UN Winds Up Burundi Peacekeeping Operation, Council Urges Continued Support (December 21, 2006)

Following the end of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), the Security Council calls for all political forces in Burundi to "persevere in their dialogue on achieving stability and national reconciliation." Further, the Council urges the parties of the September 7 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement to carry out their obligations under the agreement without delay whilst encouraging international donors to continue in assisting Burundi on its path to peace reconciliation.(UN News)

As Blue Helmets Prepare to Leave Burundi, UN Officials Pledge Continued Support (December 20, 2006)

The UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) completed its mandate on December 31, 2006 and has been replaced by a UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) which will continue the process of peace in the region. Amongst other things, Resolution 1719 enshrines BINUB’s aims to tackle poverty, protect human rights and combat impunity through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Tribunal. (UN News)

Democracy and Peace at Risk (November 30, 2006)

In this report, the International Crisis Group calls upon the international community to remain engaged in Burundi peace building efforts even once the UN peacekeeping mission leaves the country in December 2006. The organization recommends the UN Peacebuilding Commission play an important role in consolidating the peace process.

Tanzania Says No 'Fresh Start' on Burundi Peace Plan (July 11, 2006)

Ten days since the deadline for a permanent ceasefire passed without agreement, the government and rebels have yet to resolve the issue of reform of the security forces. While the FNL has dropped their demand for the disbandment of the national army, the rebel group still demands widespread changes in the security forces and government. Following years of civil war, distrust of the government, army and judiciary runs deep in parts of the Central African state. However regional leaders, such as Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, describe rebel demands as unworkable and urge them to integrate into the "new formation in Burundi." (Reuters)

Burundi Inches Closer to Peace (July 5, 2006)

The government of Burundi and the rebel FNL, the only Hutu rebel group not to join the 2000 peace process, have agreed a temporary truce and terms for negotiations for a comprehensive settlement. While South African President Thabo Mbeki had to intervene to mediate during a last minute deadlock, the agreement marks an important milestone in the efforts to end Burundi's long running conflict. A July 2, 2006 deadline has been set for a permanent ceasefire. (Times of Zambia)

Burundi: Bujumbura Seeks UN Help in Reconstruction Efforts (May 23, 2006)

As the UN peacekeeping mission prepares to leave Burundi at the conclusion of its mandate in December 2006, the government of the Central African county calls for UN support in maintaining peace and building governance. The government argues that Burundi's needs meet the requirements of post-conflict reconstruction, and hopes to copy the example of Sierra Leone, where a UN integrated office was established to help rebuild the infrastructure of stable government. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Missteps at a Crucial Moment (November 4, 2005)

When the newly elected president of Burundi took power in August 2005, he promised to bring an end to human rights violations. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the government has failed to deliver on that promise. Armed hostilities continue between the Forces Nationales de Liberation and the Bujumbura government, as well as executions and torture of civilians and suspected rebels. HRW calls on the international community to publicly acknowledge the new wave of abuses and react promptly.

Burundi: Government Pleased with UN Resolution on Truth Commission (June 22, 2005)

Following a request by UN Security Council, the government of Burundi has agreed to establish a truth commission and a special court to investigate war crimes committed during the country's forty-year civil war. Though national, the bodies would comprise some international judges to "lend fairness to conclusions." Despite government backing, not all Burundians support the commission: some question its effectiveness and propose the establishment of a special UN tribunal. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

High Hopes for Ceasefire (May 24, 2005)

The Security Council "welcomed with satisfaction" the May 15 cease-fire agreement between Burundi's transitional government and Hutu rebels, and said the agreement will facilitate the upcoming elections. However, the Security Council recognized that the current ceasefire is just a first step in the process of reform, and urged all parties to the conflict to "exert greater efforts" to ensure long term stability. (News24)

Annan Recommends Extending UN Mission in Burundi (May 23, 2005)

In a quarterly report to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Council to maintain the peacebuilding force in Burundi. According to Annan, the mission "has contributed in a significant way to the progress achieved in the peace process" and "its presence will continue to play a vital role" during the August 2005 elections (UN Press Release)

Thousands Disarmed Since December, UN Official Says (April 26, 2005)

Spokesman of the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) Adama Diop has said that ONUB has disarmed and demobilized thousands of former combatants since December 2004 and reintegrated them into civilian life or national security forces. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration effort also targets fighters of former rebel groups and will run over a period of four years. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Annan Recommends Dual Inquiries on Genocide (March 29, 2005)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council establish two panels to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide in Burundi. According to Annan, United Nations organs have not acted upon the recommendations of three UN Commissions of Inquiry into the massacres in Burundi in 1993. Warning that such inaction undermines the credibility of the UN, the Secretary General pledged to start talks with the Burundian government to set up a commission that has "both national and international components." (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Aim for Negotiations With FNL, UN Official Urges (March 3, 2005)

Following a referendum on the new constitution for Burundi, spokesman for the UN mission in Burundi Penaguini Tour stressed the need for peace between the government and the only remaining active rebel group, Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL). Ninety percent of the population voted in favor of the new constitution, paving the way for power sharing between minority Tutsis and majority Hutus. The measure addresses the decade-long Tutsi political dominance and resulting conflict, sparked by the legacy of Belgian colonial rule. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Rebel Group Says Yes to Negotiations But Rejects Zuma as Mediator (February 3, 2005)

Burundi's rebel group Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL) has agreed to negotiate with the transitional government, but insists that South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma cannot be the mediator. Head of the UN mission in Bujumbura Carolyn McAskie said the UN could mediate between the two parties. Until late January 2005, FNL leaders refused start peace talks with the government, and still continue their fight for a "social contract" between the country's Hutu, Tutsi and Twa groups to end injustice. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

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