In March 2016, the 2nd Actors’ Conference on Burundi took place in Freiburg, Germany. The conference as well as an academic symposium on the topical status quo of research on Burundi the following day was organized by the Stiftung Entwicklungs-Zusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (Foundation Development Cooperation Baden Wurttemberg), in cooperation with the Arnold Bergsträsser Institute. A documentation of both events is now available in German (PDF >).
The conference brought together experts and decision-makers from politics, civil society, church-based groups and research centers. Barbara Kemper, Senior Project Manager at the Berghof Foundation (and until 2015 Programme Coordinator of the German Civilian Peace Service Programme at GIZ in Burundi) was one of the panelists to discuss options on how to respond to the current crisis in Burundi. The other panelists were Georg Schmidt (Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel at the German Federal Foreign Office), Paul Seger (Swiss ambassador to Myanmar and former chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission on Burundi), Sylvia Servaes (Advisor on Peace and Human Rights work in the Great Lakes Region and representative of the Catholic Central Agency for Development Aid / Misereor in the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt)).
The panel agreed on the need to uphold international pressure on the Burundian government and conflicting actors and to promote an inclusive dialogue. Due to the limited influence of Western governments in the current situation, their dialogue efforts with non-Western states such as China and Russia need to continue. Furthermore, especially the AU and EAC must play an important role in promoting peace in the current crisis and needs support. To promote peaceful developments from within the country, peace-promoting forces within Burundi and the diaspora have to be supported in their efforts as well. With regard to developments since the 2015 elections, the question arose whether development cooperation with Burundi needs a fundamental reorientation. In this respect, the panel critically reflected on the role of elections, as past cycles of violence in Burundi repeatedly occurred in the context of elections. The panel agreed that elections represent a decisive cornerstone for democratization processes. However, sustainable and continued preparation and follow-up of election processes is needed. In practice, however, this is not often a given. Furthermore, in times of violent conflict, other interventions such as trust-building, de-escalation and addressing the conflicting root causes that cause instability should be a priority.
Please refer to the report of the 2nd Actors’ Conference for further information: