What is it about?

Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute and the closing of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bujumbura raise questions over the assurance for implementing the state’s responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes. We demonstrate that Burundi has made progress to build the state’s resilience to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nonetheless, these efforts failed to reach the expected outcomes. Specifically, they failed to prevent and deal with the electoral crises that occurred in 2010 and 2015. Likewise, Burundi lacked the willingness to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of past atrocity crimes and failed to cooperate with the International Criminal Court as well as the Human Rights Council Mechanisms of inquiry. There remains an increasing need for strengthening democracy, good governance, accountability, and rule of law. Accordingly, Burundi has to undertake meaningful efforts to effectively implement its National Plan for Development 2018–2027 with the support of the international community.

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Why is it important?

The paper shows evidence that Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome State doesn’t mean the perpetrators of atrocity crimes could not be prosecuted. Though there is the precedence of politics over international criminal justice, other prosecutorial options are still open for the trial of those who are allegedly responsible for atrocity crimes in Burundi. If domestic jurisdictions failed to do so, the alleged perpetrators would be indicted abroad on the basis of universal jurisdiction or referral to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council.

Perspectives

We hope this paper gives an overview of the main challenges to effectively upholding the state’s responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes in Burundi. We expect to deepen the reflection in the framework of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region to identify the challenges and prospects for implementing the 2006 Pact on Peace, Security, Stability in the Great Lake Region and its Protocol on Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

PhD Candidate Ferdinand MBIRIGI

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This page is a summary of: Assurance for Implementing the State’s Responsibility to Protect: Lessons from Burundian Practice, Global Responsibility to Protect, September 2022, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/1875984x-20220016.
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