The Arusha Peace Accord of 2000 made possible efforts to address decades of past conflict in Burundi. ICTJ has advised the development of consultative, participatory, and victim-centered transitional justice strategies in Burundi since 2006.
Burundi suffered repressive military dictatorships and violent conflict between Hutus and Tutsis since independence in 1962.
After a coup in 1987, tensions between ruling Tutsis and majority Hutus escalated. Tens of thousands of people died and tens of thousands of refugees fled to neighboring countries. Full-scale civil war broke out in 1993, following the assassination of the first Hutu president elected since independence.
Peace talks to end the conflict began in 1998. In 2000, the principal parties representing Hutu and Tutsi interests signed the Arusha Peace Accord. The Accord established a transitional government, mandating a power sharing arrangement between Hutu and Tutsi groups.
The Accord called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, a special tribunal to try perpetrators, and public consultation to inform decisions on what other forms of justice should be adopted.
After repeated delays, in July 2009 the government began this consultation process with assistance from the UN. A National Consultations Steering Committee (NCSC) of government officials, UN representatives, and local civil society groups organized focus group discussions, community gatherings, and interviews in all provinces. The NCSC submitted its report to the government in April 2010, but the government has yet to take action on its recommendations.
ICTJ has worked with Burundian civil society and the government to ensure truth-seeking and prosecutions are simultaneously pursued.