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#R2Pat10 Blog: Elect to Act: Why the Unrest in Burundi Cannot be Ignored


In under eight weeks’ time, the people of Burundi will come forward to vote in what is becoming an increasingly contested and volatile presidential election. As the vote nears, violence has  erupted between protestors and police, with twelve civilians reported dead so far and thousands having fled to neighboringRwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing threats and intimidation by the ruling party’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure. There has also been mass detainment of those voicing disapproval with the government, and steps to silence the media seeking to report on the deteriorating situation. The recent decision by Burundi’s current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, to seek a third presidential term, which violates the country’s constitution, and run in the June elections has been the spark that has led to Burundi experiencing the most serious unrest since the end of its civil war in 2005.

While atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing – are not presently being perpetrated in Burundi, many civil, regional, and international actors are concerned about the risk because of the highly contested nature of the elections combined with the underlying and unresolved issues that the country faces. Early reporting and the identifying of warning signs, such as those present in Burundi, is crucial to spur swift and preventive action to protect populations. Given that atrocity crimes are not spontaneous acts that erupt without warning but rather are the result of a process of planning at the hands of those most responsible, there are often windows of time to take preventive action.

The Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, published by the United Nations Off ice on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OGPRtoP) in 2014, is a new tool to help identify the risk for atrocity crimes and lead to early warning and reporting. It contains 14 risk factors for atrocity crimes and within each risk factor are additional indicators relating to that specific risk factor. The risk factor helps to identify the probability of atrocity crimes overall, while the indicators assist in determining the degree to which an individual risk factor is present. These risk factors and indicators are meant to help monitors and analysts in guiding their collection and assessment of information where suspected atrocity crimes are taking place.


This blog will show the use of the Framework of Analysis as a practical tool in helping with the prevention of atrocity crimes and violations by identifying some of the risks that are currently present in Burundi. Please note that this blog does not seek to identify all current risk factors and indicators present in the country.

Read the full blog here


Catch up on developments in...
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
South Sudan

A new report by the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum states that the Rohingya could face genocide.

Three were reported killed in unrest over the decision by Burundi’s president to seek a third term. Burundi’s constitutional court backed the president’s bid for re-election. Almost 40,000 have fled Burundi amid the political crisis. UNHCR chief stated that the international community should address root causes of the refugee influx.

Central African Republic:
Politicians and militia groups opened a national reconciliation forum on Monday. The International Crisis Group called on participants at the Bangui Forum to insist on justice as a prerequisite for reconciliation and to support both the ICC and the CAR special criminal court. Eight of the main militia groups in CAR agreed to release child soldiers. CAR’s justice minister said CAR would take legal action against French soldiers accused of sexually abusing refugee children.

Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The DRC army killed 17 ADF rebels. Two UN peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed by ADF rebels.

ISIS militants killed over 300 Yezidi captives in northern Iraq.

Libya’s internationally-recognized government carried out air strikes against Islamic State militants in Derna. The ‘final stage’ of the trial of former Qaddafi regime officials will begin on 20 May.

Suspected Tuareg rebels attacked Tenenkou, killing 11. The minister of national reconciliation insisted that recent ceasefire violations by armed groups would not derail the signing of the peace accord.

Boko Haram is “fracturing” as the military’s advance starves the group of weapons and fuel. Many rescued hostages from Boko Haram are undergoing rehabilitation treatment.

South Sudan:
U.S. Secretary of State warned that South Sudan is at “grave risk” and allocated 5 million USD for the creation of a special court to try perpetrators of atrocities. In response, South Sudan’s Information Minister stated that such a legal system would harm the peace process.

Sudanese rebels accused the government of orchestrating violence against student activists in Darfur. Sudanese and other civil society groups called for an investigation of the attacks. Human Rights Watch warned that the government’s indiscriminate air attacks in the Nuba Mountains are killing and maiming children.

The UN’s envoy to Syria began fresh consultations in Geneva with parties to the conflict. A new report by Amnesty International states that residents in Aleppo are facing “daily” crimes against humanity. The Security Council was briefed on the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons, as the U.S. seeks to pass a resolution setting up a process to attribute blame for the use of chlorine bombs. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims the U.S. killed 52 civilians in air strikes against the Islamic State.

What else is new?

As reported by, “the ACT sub-group on the veto and accountability has drafted elements for a code of conduct regarding Security Council votes on action related to atrocity crimes. The non-paper, presented for discussion with civil society on 30 April, outlines a pledge for current and future members of the Security Council to support timely and decisive Council action to address or end mass atrocity situations. Over the next few months, members of the sub-group as well as civil society groups will be seeking to garner wide support among member states for the initiative with the hope of formally issuing the paper during the celebration of 70th anniversary of the UN in October.”

Amnesty International released initial recommendations to the International Law Commission for a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity.


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