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U.S. Department of State
96/03/05: Statement on Burundi (Amb. Albright)
CHECK TEXT AGAINST DELIVERY USUN PRESS RELEASE #24-(96)
FOR RELEASE ON DELIVERY MARCH 5, 1996
Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States Permanent
Representative to the United Nations, in the Security Council, in Explanation
of Vote, on the Situation in Burundi, March 5, 1996
Mr. President, occasionally in this chamber the members of the Security
Council have the opportunity to try to prevent rather than to respond to a
breach of international peace and security. Today is one of those occasions.
The turmoil within Burundi--fueled in part by the perpetrators of Rwanda's
genocide and even by radio stations beyond Burundi's borders--is a matter of
grave concern to the United States and to others in the international
The Resolution we will consider today reflects the Security Council's
determination to prevent in Burundi the kind of massive violations of human
rights that consumed Rwanda in 1994. My government appreciates the work of
the distinguished representatives of the non-aligned movement in crafting
this important and balanced text.
The Resolution calls upon the leaders of Burundi to settle their
differences and resolve their fears through dialogue instead of bloodshed.
And it asks the Secretary-General to plan, on a contingency basis, for a
rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious
deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Burundi.
Although the fate of Burundi is in Burundian hands, this Council, concerned
regional organizations, neighboring states and others can help the modern
elements surmount pressure for violence that comes from the extremes. We
strongly support the efforts of former Tanzanian President Nyerere, the
Secretary-General's Special Representative Marc Faguy, former President
Carter, the OAU, the EU and all who are endeavoring to facilitate dialogue
We can do so by keeping the spotlight of world attention focused on the
decisions and actions that the leaders of Burundi take. We can recognize the
efforts of the existing government to establish calm, while rejecting those
who, by word or action, advocate or perpetrate violence. We can make it
clear that we will oppose strongly any effort to destabilize the government
or to seize power by force or other extra-constitutional means. During my
visit in January, I told the leaders of Burundi, that the United States will
not support or assist any government that comes to power by force in Burundi
and indeed would make every effort to isolate any government that comes to
power by force from the international community.
And we can stress the importance of serious negotiations conducted within
the framework of the National Debate agreed upon by the signatories to the
September 10 Convention of Government. The United Nations considers that
Convention to provide the legitimate basis for government in Burundi.
Mr. President, I think it is critical that leaders of the various factions
in Burundi not misunderstand the intentions and motives of the international
community. We are not interested in any action that would undermine
Burundian sovereignty. We are not attempting to promote the interests of one
faction or group at the expense of another. Our goal is simply to encourage
outcomes within Burundi that are consistent with internationally recognized
principles of human rights and with Burundi's own legal and constitutional
The international community can provide resources that may help overcome
obstacles to reconciliation. These resources may be in the form of a neutral
place for dialogue, human rights monitors, economic aid or assistance in
building effective political and judicial institutions. My government urges
the government and people of Burundi to take advantage of these resources.
Mr. President, there has been some debate in recent weeks about the wisdom
of even planning for the contingency that--despite our efforts and those of
moderates in Burundi--widespread violence might resume. However, my
government believes this step is essential. Given the horrors of what
happened in Rwanda, and the persistence of outrages in Burundi, we would fail
in our responsibilities if we did not take this step.
The contingency planning called for in the Resolution is precisely the type
of exercise envisioned when the UN established its Standby Arrangements
System over the last two years. It is designed to identify, in advance, the
resources that member states might be willing to make available on short
notice to carry out an emergency humanitarian mission in Burundi. My
government urges other governments to cooperate with the UN and with the
United States in this effort. It is an initiative designed to bolster the
confidence of moderates in the government of Burundi and elsewhere within
that society, and could save thousands of lives.
My government also urges the Secretary General to provide additional
security and investigatory personnel to the Commission on Inquiry. I learned
of this need first-hand during my visit to Bujumbura in January. The
Commission must complete its investigation into the events of the attempted
coup d'etat of 1993 and the subsequent ethnic violence.
Finally, my government stresses the importance of the Council's commitment
in Resolution 1040, and in this Resolution, to consider further measures
under the U.N. Charter if progress towards a comprehensive political dialogue
is not achieved.
Mr. President, the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human
rights cited an "increasingly marked genocidal trend" in Burundi. Although
the courageous efforts of moderates in Burundi to prevent violence provide
grounds for hope, we must take very, very seriously the potential for an
upsurge in killing.
This Resolution is no panacea. It provides no guarantees. But it
demonstrates that the world is monitoring events in Burundi closely, and that
we are prepared to assist in efforts to promote dialogue and lay the
groundwork for social progress. The history of this region tells us that
those who commit genocide, also commit suicide. Burundi does not deserve
that fate; no nation does. Let us do all we can to help the people of this
land avoid that fate and to build a future based on law and tolerance. Thank
you, Mr. President.
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