Statement on the AU Authorisation of a Peace Mission to Burundi
Addis Ababa/Nairobi/Brussels |
18 Dec 2015
REUTERS/Jean Pierre Aimé Harerimana
Crisis Group welcomes yesterday’s bold decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) authorising the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) to halt the slide toward civil war and mass atrocities. The humanitarian situation in the country is increasingly dire. More than 200,000 refugees have fled across its borders, and each dawn reveals fresh corpses in the streets of the capital, Bujumbura. UN officials warn that without immediate action the situation risks descending into “catastrophic violence”.
The AU PSC, taking into account the preliminary results of the African Commission of People’s and Human Rights’ recent fact-finding mission, has recognised both the unacceptable threats faced by the people of Burundi and the risk that the crisis poses to the Great Lakes region. Its communiqué urges the UN Security Council to approve immediately a logistical package to enable the rapid deployment of 5,000 troops from AU member states. It also takes the unprecedented step of invoking Article 4(h) of the AU’s Constitutive Act, which asserts “the right of the Union to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”. In conformity with international law, it requests “the UN Security Council to adopt, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a resolution in support of the present communiqué”.
The communiqué also wisely calls for the reinforcement of ongoing African-led diplomacy. The decision to mount a protection mission should not detract from finding a political solution to the crisis. Mediation efforts need to be reenergised, with a greater AU role, in order to bring about a genuine and truly inclusive national dialogue that would resolve the increasingly violent conflict that has resulted from President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to secure a third term.
MAPROBU’s deployment alongside a robust human rights observers mission and linked to a reinvigorated mediation process could secure peace and security for a fragile nation and region. The mission should include border monitoring aimed at protecting refugees and discouraging the movement of armed groups. The protection mission deserves the full support of all governments in the region, the continent and the wider international community.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this statement said that the mission "includes border monitoring". This has been corrected to note that the mission "should include" border monitoring.