H.E Hermenegilde Niyonzima


Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Burundi to the UN

The new Permanent Representative of Burundi to the United Nations, Herménégilde Niyonzima, presented his credentials today to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Before his appointment, Mr. Niyonzima had served as Burundi’s Ambassador to Libya since October 2009. He served from 2004 to 2008 in the Executive Secretariat of the National Council for the Demobilization, Return and Reintegration of Former Fighters in Burundi; for two years, through 2006, as Chief of the Demobilization Unit; and also as Director of Special Projects (for people with disabilities and child soldiers) until March 2008.  He was Assistant to the Executive Secretary through the end of that year.

 Event Title Date
 Africa Solutions to African Problems: Education, Health, Culture, Economy, Culture, Peace & Security 05/ 14/ 2014

Burundi, like its neighbors (Rwanda and DRC) has suffered a big deal of ethnic conflicts for near 5 decades. But analyzing deep down, what really happened in that country, one cannot overview the responsibility of colonial powers, especially the 1885 Berlin Conference, which divided into separate states, with geographical boundaries.

As Benazir Bhutto indicated: “During the colonial era, imperial powers divided up and consolidated states at will.  This lack of respect for ethnic and tribal lines often put two warring peoples into one state or split up a single people into two states. When independence was gained by these states, democracy broke down along ethnic lines and many times proved impossible to sustain”[1].

Benazir Bhutto who referred to Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, the Sahara Occidental and Iraq, did not certainly believe to describe so well the politico-ethnic situation from which Burundi and the Great Lakes Region of Africa have suffered, still suffer today and will probably continue to suffer.

Indeed, the Hutus and Tutsis, which are two belligerent ethnic groups, are found not only in Burundi and Rwanda, but also in Buha, in the West of Tanzania, in the South Kivu, in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), like in the South of Uganda in the area of Bufumbira.

This geo-sociological situation in our Region as well as in other areas of the planet is worsening the inter-state relationships, because it is the origin of the civil wars and ethnic based trans-boundary aggressions.

Burundi recovered its Independence from Belgian colonial rule y on July 1st, 1962. The departure of colonizers gave way to a series of assassinations of leaders avec fights for the succession which appeared to be ethnic war for Community survival, fueled with ethnic propaganda of hatred,  assassinations, attacks on different ethnic members which were identified as an enemy.

But there more immediate causes for ethnic conflicts in our Region: They are summarized in a declaration that Sadako Ogata, the UN High-Commissioner for the Refugees, made at the Earth Summit, June 1992 in Rio, on the environment and the development.

Ogata said: “More and more people are being forced to flee for a complex combination of reasons, linked as much to population growth, poverty, famine and environmental degradation as to mass violation of human rights, social and ethnic tensions and armed conflicts”

There is cause-and-effect relationship between poverty and conflicts in Africa.  This has been demonstrated over the years during the second half of last century. The scarcity of resources inducts competition towards the management of resources, and there is no respect of rules; constitutions, Electoral code and public law. That’s what explains military coups, rebellious warfare on the African continent.

But I like to add, that poverty alone is not enough to explain the war phenomenon in poor country in Africa. Because, the majority of African countries would all be in civil wars. This means, therefore, that if the meager resources are democratically managed, with equal opportunities to access to the public wealth, this can protect countries from ethnic conflicts irruptions.

Another issue, which is as important cause as the poverty itself in the over-growing population.  Burundi is over populated, more than 350 inhabitants per km2. This situation implies too much pressure on the environment, exceeding what the Ecology calls “Carrying Capacity”.

And like a boat, which makes shipwreck with on its board more passengers than the life jackets, there is fight for survival, and the weakest have to die.

Burundi people, with the help from the regional leaders, were able to overcome their conflicts through negotiations brokered by former Tanzanian President Julius K. Nyerere. The Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi gave new institutions, including security forces, attention having been paid on inclusion and participation regardless of electoral outcomes.


.Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNOrIPf3he0
[1]   Benazir, Bhutto.  Reconciliation –  Islam, Democracy and the West, HarperCollins Publishers, USA, 2008,  P.140