mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Spoiler Alert
Russia and China Block Burundi Statement as Ethnic Tensions Rise

Last week, street violence broke out in Burundi over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s move to secure a third term in office. Protesters object that Burundi’s constitution, signed in 2005 after a long and brutal civil war, stipulates a maximum of two terms. But the president says that his first term doesn’t count as one of these because he was appointed, not elected.

Given the recent, bloody history of Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Burundi’s civil war and in neighboring Rwanda, the growing tensions are raising fears of ethnic conflict between the two groups (Nkurunziza is a Hutu). In the UN Security Council, France drafted a statement on the matter, one that “stressed the need to hold a peaceful, credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process to sustain the gains of peace at a critical time, in accordance with the spirit of the Arusha Agreement [that ended the civil war].” But for the Council to adopt the statement, a unanimous vote had to approve it and both Russia and China decided to block the statement. Russia, never one to miss an opportunity to act as a spoiler, lead the charge, as Reuters reports:

“If some members of the council, some others, want to discuss with people in Burundi how they should interpret their own constitution, we would have no objection to that,” [Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Vitaly] Churkin said. “But the Security Council has nothing to do with constitutions in other countries.”

Moscow and Beijing’s decision to reject France’s statement is an indication that even as world tensions rise, Russia and China are more interested in disrupting the status quo than in improving the coherence and effectiveness of key international institutions.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • qet

    While I don’t credit Russia or China with intentions more benign than those of your average reptile, I find myself in seeming agreement with the Russian ambassador on this one.

  • Fat_Man

    Yet another good reason to shut the UN down.

  • Dan Greene

    >>”Russia, never one to miss an opportunity to act as a spoiler, lead the charge”

    Then why did Russia not block the Yemen resolution that supported the Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports?

    >>”Moscow and Beijing’s decision to reject France’s statement is an indication that even as world tensions rise, Russia and China are more interested in disrupting the status quo than in improving the coherence and effectiveness of key international institutions.”

    This is your analysis? They did it just to “disrupt the status quo”? Nonsense. Russia and China supported the Western-inspired UNSC resolution authorizing (in effect) support of the overthrow of Qaddafi and the one supporting the Saudi intervention in Yemen. I suppose that if you defined both those adventures as disruptions of the status quo, which, I suppose, they were, then perhaps the assessment is valid, but somehow, I doubt that that’s how TAI meant it.

    Now, why don’t you provide us with some actual analysis of why Russia and China blocked the resolution, because this little effort doesn’t cut it. And while you’re at it, how about some analysis of why they DIDN’T block the Yemeni authorization? Then put the two together and tell us what that says about Russian and Chinese global strategy. At that point, you will have actually provided some value to your readers.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service