Context of Our Work
The political and humanitarian situation in Burundi has steadily deteriorated since 1993, when the nation's first democratically elected president was assassinated. Long-standing ethnic rivalries, heightened by the legacy of colonialism, resulted in a civil war that has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. Thousands of people, including children, have been caught in the heavy fighting between opposing armed groups and the regular army. Hundreds of thousands became refugees in neighboring countries or have been relocated into camps for the internally displaced that lack adequate healthcare, food and shelter.
The Arusha Peace Accord was signed in August 2000, negotiated by former South African President Nelson Mandela, but conflict continued as the negotiations on implementing the agreement faced serious deadlock. The malfunctioning of the judicial system, coupled with the unequal disposition of justice, intensified ethnic tensions and aggravated an already volatile political environment. Negotiations on implementing the Accords have been slow as a result of new violence and instability but a political transition agreement was reached in July 2001 and a three-year period of political transition was set in motion on November 1 with the installation of a power-sharing transitional government.
Transitioning Burundi out of conflict, residual effects of decades of human rights violations, and institutionalized impunity is a great challenge to both civil society and the post-conflict justice mechanisms stipulated by the Arusha Accord.
Our Burundi Programming
To train and partner with civil society leaders and legal practitioners as they confront this challenge, IHRLG openend our Bujumbura office in 2000 and an office in Ngozi in 2002.
Throughout the country, IHRLG works with human rights activists and lawyers to promote legal reform, address impunity, and build the public confidence in the possibility of social reconciliation and political stability that is critical to Burundi's peace implementation and democratic transition processes.
In addition to this capacity building and joint action work, IHRLG also engages in:
- Human rights education and legal literacy programs for Burundian women and youth;
- Technical support for Burundian NGOs'legal reform initiatives focusing on protecting the rights of children during armed conflict and women in prison; and
- Collaboration opportunities for NGOs of the Great Lakes and their international counterparts through regional workshops and access to international human rights fora.
Learn more by clicking on the links below.
Strengthening NGOs through training, technical assistance and human rights education
Reinforcing civil society's participation in defining Burundi's approach to transitional justice
Facilitating international advocacy and local, regional and international NGO linkages
Promoting access to justice by strengthening legal services and law reform initiatives