Bougainville Peace News : UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Four key priorities include strengthening the relationship and trust between the #PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the #Bougainville Peace Agreement  

The four key priorities are

(i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA;

(ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue;

 (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and

(iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

Originally Published HERE 

From 26 to 31 August, a mission of the partners of the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Norway visited Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Pictured above in Buka with the Speaker of the ABG House Simon Pentanu

The mission allowed partners to engage with the Government, civil society organizations, beneficiaries and the UN System and appreciate the impact of the PBF’s support. Participants discussed the PBF engagement approach, project results and also challenges and remaining needs in peace consolidation.

The mission included visits to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, and to Buka, the capital of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which has been the focus for the PBF’s support.

Context

Bougainville is an autonomous region within PNG. After nearly a decade of a bloody conflict between 1989 and 1997 resulting in about 20,000 casualties, the PNG Government and representatives of Bougainville actors involved in the conflict signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) in 2001.

This agreement provided the legal basis for the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005 and a gradual transfer of powers from the national Government. It also included provisions for weapons disposal, governance arrangements, and a referendum on the political status of Bougainville, the outcome of which is subject to the ratification of the PNG National Parliament.

Since 2001, the Agreement has enabled political dialogue between the PNG Government and the ABG and paved the way for the referendum planned for June 2019.

In this period, Bougainville has remained largely peaceful thanks to ongoing peacebuilding efforts. That said, many challenges remain, including key joint decisions yet to be made, additional progress with weapons disposal, reconciliation, integration of ex-combatants and outliers to the peace process, community confidence in the process and social cohesion. The planned referendum will be a critical milestone in this process.

The Peacebuilding Fund in Papua New Guinea

To strengthen the implementation of the BPA and assist the two Governments in making the necessary joint decisions, the PBF support to PNG commenced in 2015 following the declaration of PNG’s eligibility for the Fund by the UN Secretary-General in view of the approaching referendum. PBF support has included two phases totaling $15 million in allocations.

The first phase of $9 million was implemented between mid 2015 to early 2018, while the second totaling $6 million commenced in 2018.

Priorities for PBF support have been : (i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA; (ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue; (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and (iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

In addition to continuing with the first two priority areas, the new PBF phase of support includes (v) a joint and community focused process for weapons disposal and factional unification in Bougainville, accompanied by support for targeted community interventions on security and social cohesion in zones of political factions which had not signed up to the Peace Agreement, and (vi) stronger involvement of women and youth in the Peace Agreement and referendum processes. Projects are implemented by UNDPUN WomenUNFPAUNICEFand OHCHR together with partners.

Highlights

The Mission started with a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), Gianluca Rampolla. He highlighted some of the important steps taken recently on the path towards the referendum, including agreements on the Bougainville Referendum Commission, but raised concerns on the short remaining timeline and the ambitious steps still pending, including the voter roll and the precise formulation of the question on the ballot.

An economic downturn made it more difficult for the national Government to allocate funds for various aspects relating to the peace agreement and the referendum, including the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the weapons disposal and the restoration and development grant.

But two sides have a common interest in making progress and maintaining the process’ integrity, not least because Bougainville’s political status will not be determined by the referendum alone. Rather, the referendum will lead to consultations between the two Governments on the next steps, including the national Parliament’s role in considering the referendum outcome. Any transition will take time and may require the amendment of the PNG Constitution. The RC highlighted that PBF support in 2015 had come at a crucial moment when the two Governments’ relationship was under some strain. “The Government has increasingly requested the UN to be part of a very sensitive political space in the lead up to the referendum in Bougainville and none of this would have been possible without the PBF.” The PBF enabled the UN to work better together and sharpened the preventive focus of the UN Country Team, providing a common platform.

The Mission team also listened to a briefing by the Autonomy Review experts, who were in country to conduct a fact-finding mission.

This is the second such review since the ABG was formed in 2005. It is mandated by the BPA and its objective is to provide a neutral assessment of the state of progress of autonomy arrangements by the ABG and the national Government. The current review is funded by the PBF.

The Mission participants then continued on to Buka (Bougainville) where they met with key ABG leaders and officials over two days, including the Vice President, the Deputy Chief Secretary, the Minister and the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister for Community Development, women Parliamentarians, Bougainville Women’s Federation, members of the Community Government, human rights defenders, and a selection of ex-combatants, including an ex-combatant Parliamentarian.

On their return to Port Moresby, the mission met with the Bougainville President, Chief Dr John Momis, who was returning to Bougainville. The main impressions conveyed by these interlocutors were:

  • PBF has been a very important partner in the political space and is seen to be making a positive contribution to the peace process and progress towards the referendum. In particular, the PBF is seen to be a major source of support for dialogue between the two Governments and for taking forward some of the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolutions. According to James Tanis, the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, “PBF has allowed for a continuity of dialogue even at times of mistrust and despite obstacles.”
  • PBF is also seen to be helping the ABG and the political factions to negotiate amongst themselves and come to common positions. Moreover, PBF support has enabled creative positive connections between PNG and ABG, including through a recent helpful visit by the leadership of the PNG Council of Churches.
  • PBF is seen as having made a crucial contribution to referendum discussions and preparations, especially by training the Bougainville MPs on the Peace Agreement and enabling them all to travel to and engage with their constituencies on the “Referendum Ready” process, which included sharing information and engaging in discussions on the BPA and the referendum, encouraging weapons disposal and helping to address remaining security concerns within the communities, following an agreed checklist. Hon. Francesca Samoso, the Deputy Speaker, stated: “With PBF support, we were able to travel to our constituencies, including the areas where ex-combatants hadn’t signed up to the BPA and raise awareness about the peace process and the referendum.”
  • Hon. Marcelline Kokiai also stated: “Through supporting the Referendum Ready process, the PBF has made souls meet. People who had not spoken to each other since the conflict are now coming together.” That said, interlocutors noted the need for additional support for reaching the constituencies, including through the community Government, to ensure that all the 33 constituencies have the support to go through the ABG-designated requirements to be declared as referendum ready and weapons free.
  • PBF support has contributed to some initial exchanges between the two Parliaments including the support to visits of the National Parliament bi-partisan committee on Bougainville Affairs and a draft MOU between the two Parliaments. This was seen as an important step forward, but interlocutors felt that more needed to be done given the level of understanding for and commitments to the BPA were still rather low.
  • PBF helped increase women’s participation in the political and peacebuilding debate. The female MPs testified how the UN’s accompaniment including training and travel helped reduce marginalization and increase their participation. They were also supported in rolling out three regional women’s unification ceremonies and establishing a parliamentary committee on gender equality and human rights.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville generally felt that there is some room for the national Government to make more effort in implementing the Peace Agreement and enabling progress towards the referendum. Various promised funds have not yet been made available, impeding progress towards the referendum. A second JSB meeting, expected in mid 2018, to address the referendum question had not yet been agreed. Bougainville was ready to go forward, yet the timeline was shrinking and patience was waning. That said, there was a clear sentiment from all leaders that maintaining peace and stability would be paramount. There was also an understanding of why it is difficult for the national Government to contemplate potential independence of one of its parts. Moreover, the Bougainville leadership was clear that the referendum would not in itself lead to independence, but to a transition process mandating the Bougainville representatives to negotiate with the national Government. President Momis stated on the referendum: “It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.”
  • More needs to be done to address the grievances and demands by the ex-combatants, some of whom continue to be outside the Peace process, and to find ways to involve youth – both of which are included as particular areas of focus in the new PBF projects.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville emphasized the importance of continued international presence and of UN support for the oversight of the implementation of the Peace Agreement to help ensure continued peace and stability. Some made requests for some kind of a UN or regional security observer mission. ABG expressed hope that the international community could help to ensure implementation of the Peace Agreement.

“It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.” – President John Momis

The Mission team was warmly welcomed to a formal ceremony in the Constituency of Hagogohe, one of the two constituencies which had gone through the full Referendum Ready process and declared itself ready. The ceremony included local leaders, women and youth representatives, who celebrated the moment and emphasized the importance of expressing their voice peacefully. The Mission team then attended the opening of one of three youth resource centers funded through the PBF. The center will provide young people with access to vocational training and a space to get information and discuss political, socio-economic and peacebuilding issues. The center is located on land next to the Parliament, which will be helpful in strengthening links between youth and Members of Parliament.

Back in Port Moresby, the Mission team met with four Members of the National Parliament representing Bougainville, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council (PMNEC), and Director of National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs. The four Members of Parliament stated that they needed additional support for their interactions with the rest of the PNG Parliament and that they hoped to play a greater role in the coordination of funding going to Bougainville. They also emphasized the critical role of the national Parliament’s bi-partisan committee on Bougainville.

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of PMNEC explained the variety of issues that PNG was facing and prioritizing, including improving health and education services, empowering local level government, dealing with national disasters etc.

He stated that the UN’s work funded by the PBF was important for the Bougainville peace process and mentioned some of the reasons the PNG funding to Bougainville had been delayed, including problems with ABG acquittals and reports.

He also stated that negotiation on the way forward would be key. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs emphasized it was very important for the people of Bougainville to have a chance to express their views and aspirations through the referendum as part of the democratic process. The implementation of the Peace Agreement is also paramount, especially regarding the disposal of weapons. Her Department has been raising awareness of the Peace Agreement and the referendum with the international community. The Secretary confirmed that the UN was considered an objective partner in this process and that the National Government appreciated the UN’s support for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

The Mission team also met with an Australian NGO, Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia (PaCSIA), supporting community discussions throughout Bougainville, which is also establishing a partnership with the UN through PBF funding. The dialogues have shown the people in Bougainville have a genuine willingness to discuss the future political status, to understand better the options for Bougainville, and for a closer engagement with their leaders.

Finally, the Mission team engaged with the UN Country Team on two additional issues:

  • The UN Senior Electoral Officer presented the Bougainville Referendum Support Project, which still confronts a financing gap of nearly $4 million, following a contribution from New Zealand (other partners have been approached but no further contributions have materialized so far). He emphasized the country was 18 months behind the original notional calendar of preparations for the referendum proposed by the UN. Too much focus had been placed on the target date, and not enough on the process to get there, especially the voter roll which presents an important challenge. The funding from the PNG Government had not yet reached the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The question(s) have still not been formulated. It was still possible to catch up but with considerable challenges.
  • The UN Country Team made a presentation on the work in the Highlands region, following the recent earthquakes and humanitarian crises, which required UN assistance to a region that had been largely inaccessible. The UN has conducted a conflict analysis, which shows deep and complex conflict causes and factors in a region fraught by tribal tensions, disagreements over mining and land, high levels of inter-personal violence, increased access to guns, and little presence of and trust in the state. The UN team emphasized the importance of not leaving the Highlands behind but finding innovative ways of supporting local peace champions and local means of conflict prevention and resolution while increasing state presence. The UN is currently applying for a PBF grant through the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative. Importantly, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs similarly emphasized the importance of assisting the Highlands in her meeting with the Mission team.

Participants appreciated the clear value-added of the UN’s engagement with PBF’s support in regards to the implementation of the BPA. Participants witnessed the One UN approach in action and the commitment and professionalism of UN staff. Participants noted the broad levels of enthusiasm from the partners they met in Bougainville. The road towards the referendum remains complex, but the UN’s engagement with PBF support was focused on the right issues. One challenge which was raised in the closing session was progress with weapons disposal, which is currently only supported by the UN and needs more commitment from the two Governments and engagement by ex-combatants. Overall, participants concluded to the continued need for PBF support and felt, in the words of Amb. Hanns Schumacher, representative from Germany and member of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on the PBF that “the projects in PNG provided a sterling examples of how PBF is working to implement its mandated vision and how relatively minor amounts of money can stabilize a complex situation and make a clear impact”.

About the PBF

The UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund is the organization’s financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. The PBF may invest with UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations. From 2006 to 2017, the PBF has allocated $772 million to 41 recipient countries. Since inception, 58 member states contributed to the Fund, 33 in the present 2017-2019 Business Plan. The PBF works across pillars and supports integrated UN responses to fill critical gaps; respond quickly and with flexibility to political opportunities; and catalyze processes and resources in a risk-tolerant fashion.

 

Bougainville News : Download report and watch video @Jubilee_AU Long Han Blong Yumi (It’s in our hands) and report, Growing #Bougainville’s Future.

Jubilee Australia has just launched a major report, Growing Bougainville’s Future, which examines the economic development paths for Bougainville.

Download the report

 GrowingBougainvillesFuture_120918

Bougainville fought a brutal Civil War from 1989-1997 which claimed the lives of up to 20 000 people, and tens of thousands more were displaced. At the core of the conflict was the Panguna mine, a massive copper and gold mine that had serious socio-economic, environmental and cultural impacts.

20 years later, Bougainville is planning for a referendum for independence from Papua New Guinea. Simultaneously, there is a heated debate about re-opening the Panguna mine, based on the argument that independence requires economic self-sufficiency, and mining is the only way to achieve that.

As shown by our report Voices of Bougainville, many local communities do not want to re-open the Panguna mine, and our research shows that this is not the only development option for Bougainville. Bougainville can pursue a development path that is more sustainable and broad-based, and this film explores that option.

Bougainville: Long Han Blong Yumi (It’s in our hands) is being published along with a report, Growing Bougainville’s Future.

The report explores many of the same issues as the movie, and together we hope they contribute to facilitating an informed debate on Bougainville’s development options.

The report challenges the argument that Bougainville needs other large-scale mining for the sake of development, and explores alternative and sustainable development options.🌍

This report is being published along with a short film, Bougainville: Long Han Blong Yumi (Bougainville: It’s In Our Hands), which covers many of the same topics as the report.

Watch it below👇🎥

#GrowingBougainvillesFuture

Bougainville News 2 of 3 coverage of #JSB meeting Arawa June 29 : Read or Download President Momis’s speech at opening Joint Supervisory Body meeting

 ” Prime Minister I have no doubt that you are serious in the public assurances that you have been giving about honouring every last word in the Peace Agreement, and ensuring that the referendum will be held. But of the money required does not flow, and if other things I have mentioned do not happen quickly, then not only will we miss the target date for referendum in 2019, but we will be struggling to achieve a referendum by the last possible date-June 2020.

I understand your government has other pressing priorities with APEC, and the complex current situation in the Highlands. I understand too that your budgetary constraints are grave. But we must also remember that the Peace Agreement ended a terrible conflict.

There is a slowly emerging risk of real frustration amongst Bougainvilleans about the lack of progress both with autonomy, and with the referendum. The time for action on the referendum is now. Prime Minister, I look forward to a productive meeting with you and your colleagues.”

President Momis opening speech June 29 Arawa Download HERE

President Momis Opening address JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY ARAWA 290618

Prime Minister, Ministers accompanying the Prime Minister and members of the ABG, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Officers of the national government and the ABG, and other observers:

I am pleased to be at this meeting of the JSB for 2018. As always, there are important matters for us to discuss at this JSB meeting. At the outset, I ask that we all remind ourselves of the important roles that the peace agreement and the National Constitution give to the JSB.

In fact, we should all do well to recall that it is the National Constitution that established the JSB.

It is a constitutional body, with important roles given to it by explicit words in the Constitution. Those roles include oversight of the Implementation of the whole of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. That means oversight of all three pillars of that agreement – autonomy, the referendum and weapons disposal. The second main role of the JSB involves providing a forum for consultation between the two Governments and their agencies. The third role is in relation to conflict resolution between the two Governments.

It is timely to remind ourselves of these roles of the JSB, because in this meeting of the JSB there are items on the agenda related to implementation of all three pillars of the Peace Agreement. And the ABG is seeking to consult the National Government about many of these matters. But for some of the matters, we are coming to the JSB with the aim of settling disputes.

Here I refer to our concern, once again, about the calculation of the Restoration and Development Grant –the RDG. While we reached a compromise in the December 2017 JSB meeting, we did not resolve issues about calculation of the RDG going forward. On our calculations, according to the formula for the RDG set out in the Organic Law on Peace- building, we should be receiving about K70 million per year in RDG-not the K15 million that has been budgeted, but not fully paid in several recent years.

This year again the National Government proposes to pay K15 million, we have not yet seen a single toea of RDG so far, six months into the year. I hope, Prime Minister, that we will reach agreement here on what the RDG payments should be going forward, and that in 2019 we will see payment at the correct level, of more than K70 million.

While talking about ABG finances, I must raise the issue of the extreme budget crisis now faced by the ABG.I realise that the National Government faces its own budget crisis.But the lack of funds being received by the ABG is leading to a desperate situation for us. We simply do not have the money to do anything. We are not even receiving the amount of recurrent grants needed to meet salary costs, and not enough for our public service to do much at all. We have received no RDG. Most of the Police grant has not been paid. Our share of the National Government taxes collected in Bougainville is in arrears. Prime Minister I ask you and your Ministers for Treasury and Finance to do all you can to ease our terrible financial position.

Prime minister, I turn to the referendum, and in particular to the work needed to ensure that the referendum is held before the end of five year window within which the peace agreement and the national constitution say it must be held. That window ends less two than years away – in mid – June 2020.

Prime Minister, all Bougainvilleans have been heartened by the assurances you have recently given in public statements that you and your government will honour the peace agreement in full. On several occasions now you have stated that the referendum will be held – and held on the target date in June 2019.

But the fact is that a huge amount needs to be done, and done very soon, if there is to be any hope at all that the referendum will be held, either in 2019, or before the end of that five year window in mid-June 2020.

Amongst other things, the following are some of most urgent things that must be done.

First, the proposed chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (the BRC), the Honourable Bertie Ahern, must accept the appointment, and his appointment must be notified in the National Gazette and the Bougainville Gazette. Only then can the full BRC convene, and only then can the BRC appoint the chief Referendum officer. Only then can the chief Referendum officer appoint the other staff of the BRC secretariat. Prime Minister, I ask that your officers take urgent action to confirm the appointment of the chair of the BRC by the necessary notice in the National Gazette.

Second, Prime Minister we need the appointment of the two National Government appointees to the BRC. While the BRC can meet once the chair is appointed, I would be worried if were to meet without national government representation. That will happen, I’m afraid, if we do not hear of the National Government appointees.

Third, we must do everything possible to protect the constitutional independence of the BRC, something which is guaranteed by the Organic law on peace-building in Bougainville, and charter establishing the Constitution. The independence of the BRC is essential if the referendum process is to have integrity. The Referendum can only be free and fair if the BRC has full independence from Government.

In relation to protection of independence Iam concerned about a proposal emerging from the JTT for the two chief secretaries to co-chair an intergovernmental committee to provide guidance to the BRC. If the BRC is to be independent it cannot be subject to guidance from the chief secretaries. On the other hand, if such a committee plays a role in ensuring liaison between governments and the BRC, that would be acceptable. I hope that we can reach agreement on arrangements that recognise the independence of the BRC.

Third- Prime Minister, the BRC is in desperate need of the earliest possible flow of funding. If the BRC were to have had much real chance of organising the referendum by the target date of mid-June 2019,the enrolment of voters should have begun in April, But in the absence of the funding expected from the National Government, the BRC has so far been able to do nothing to start the enrolment process. The BRC needs at least K5 OR K6million to undertake the major enrolment process required.

Prime Minister, I am sure that you will agree with me that it is essential that the roll of voters for this referendum should be of much higher standard than we have become used to in PNG National elections. We cannot have thousands of people turned away because their names cannot be found on the rolls. A truly free and fair election will depend on an accurate roll providing all voters with the right to vote. I am pleased to hear that the BRC is proposing to work with the ward recorders that are part of the ABG’s new community government system, with the goal of having a grass roots check on the accuracy of the rolls. All these efforts to get a real accurate roll will be costly- but it is a cost well worth incurring.

Prime Minister, please make the flow of adequate funding to the BRC a top funding priority in the next couple of weeks.

Fourth, Prime Minister, it is essential that at this meeting of the JSB that we BOTH agree the question to be asked in the referendum, and agree to the criteria of enrolment of non-resident Bougainvileans. Both of these issues are essential for immediate agreement if the referendum preparation are to go ahead. Without the question being agreed, we can not have adequate referendum awareness- because awareness must be directed to explaining carefully and in simple language the issue that will be decided in the referendum. As for the criteria for enrolment, the BRC will not be able to undertake enrolment of non-resident Bougainvilleans without agreement on those criteria.

Fifth, Prime Minister, I am concerned about security for the referendum.There are two major issues that I must mention here. One concerns weapons disposal. Much work has been done, jointly between ABG’s Department of Peace Agreement Implementation and your National coordination office of Bougainville Affairs, to develop a four phase program for disposal of remaining weapons.

A joint weapons disposal secretariat has been established. The former BRA and BRF and the Me’ekamui factions have agreed to join this new disposal process. But without funding, this disposal process cannot proceed. I ask that the necessary funding be released.

The second issue about security concerns the role of Police. I am afraid that the Bougainville Police service still has very low levels of capacity. As a result, I am concerned that the Bougainville Police should be the main factor in security arrangements. Experience elsewhere in the world shows that good security can be vital.

Prime Minister, I want us to consider here at this JSB the possibility of an invitation being given to the United Nations to provide an International security force for the referendum, perhaps one that could work closely with the Bougainville Police Service.

Prime Minister I have no doubt that you are serious in the public assurances that you have been giving about honouring every last word in the Peace Agreement, and ensuring that the referendum will be held. But of the money required does not flow, and if other things I have mentioned do not happen quickly, then not only will we miss the target date for referendum in 2019, but we will be struggling to achieve a referendum by the last possible date-June 2020.

I understand your government has other pressing priorities with APEC, and the complex current situation in the Highlands. I understand too that your budgetary constraints are grave. But we must also remember that the Peace Agreement ended a terrible conflict. There is a slowly emerging risk of real frustration amongst Bougainvilleans about the lack of progress both with autonomy, and with the referendum. The time for action on the referendum is now. Prime Minister, I look forward to a productive meeting with you and your colleagues.

Thank you.

Bougainville News Alert : Agreed Record of Outcomes #JSB meeting Arawa June 29 : Plus President Momis at Joint Supervisory Body meeting claims PNG Government owes Bougainville 1 Billion Kina under the Restoration Development Grants :

 

” The ABG should be receiving SEVENTY MILLION KINA annually under the Restoration Development Grants of which it has accumulated to nearly ONE BILLION KINA.

This year the National Government budgeted for FIFTEEN MILLION KINA to ABG but until today the ABG has not seen ONE TOEA of those RDG funds.

I realise that the National Government has its own budget crisis. But the lack of funds being received by the ABG is leading to a desperate situation for us.

We simply do not have the money to do anything.”

The ABG President, Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS in his opening remarks at today’s JSB in Arawa said that the ABG is in extreme budget crisis due to the National Governments failure to make payments to the ABG. See Part 1 Below

Meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body
Arawa, Autonomous Region
of Bougainville
29 June 2018

Agreed Record of Outcomes

ENDORSEMENT OF BRC CHAIR AND MEMBERS

The JSB resolved to:
(a) Note the appointment of Bertie Ahern as Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission;
(b) Call upon the National Government to prepare the notice of his appointment for publication in the National Gazette and the Bougainville Gazette;
(c) Accept the appointment by the ABG of its appointees to the BRC, namely Mr. Patrick Nisira and Ms. Ruby Mirinka;
(d) Encourage the National Government to make appointments of its two members to the BRC as soon as possible;
(e) Call for the first meeting of the full BRC to be held as soon as practicable.

BRC OPERATIONS AND BUDGET
The JSB resolved:
(a) To accept the concept of operations and planning and budget materials
prepared by the BRC-TC.
(b) That the approved funding for the BRC operations of K20 million from
the National Government, and K500,000 from the ABG be progressively
transferred to the agreed Trust Account, and noted that the initial national
government contribution of K1.2 million has been transferred to NCOBA
pending the BRC trust account becoming operational.
(c) To note that the Trust Account for the BRC has been established and will
become operational as soon as is practicable.
(d) To note that the Bougainville Referendum Commission staffing structure
has been approved by the Department of Personnel Management (see
attachment).
(e) To approve the establishment of an inter-governmental referendum
support committee chaired by the two chief secretaries to ensure
continued support of the respective governments to the BRC.

REFERENDUM COMMUNICATIONS – BPA/REFERENDUM KEY MESSAGES

The JSB resolved that the Joint Technical Team study and evaluate the proposed new awareness messages prepared by the ABG on pre-referendum and post-referendum issues, and authorizes the two Chief Secretaries to process and approve such messages on a progressive basis.

QUESTION OR QUESTIONS TO BE ASKED IN THE REFERENDUM
The JSB resolved:
(a) That after receipt of joint legal advice on issues of constitutional compliance of different options for the question or questions to be put in the referendum, that a special JSB be called before the end of July to consider what question or questions should be put, including the use of symbols.
(b) That, once the question has been endorsed by the JSB, that the BRC be tasked with undertaking testing and outreach work to ensure that the question is clearly understood, and that all eligible voters understand what each option means, including potential implications arising from either option. This should include development of a ballot design and appropriate wording in TokPisin.

AMENDMENTS TO THE ORGANIC LAW, FILLING GAPS IN THE SCHEDULE, AND PASSING CONSTITUTIONAL REGULATIONS

The JSB resolved that officials meet and consider issues related to the Organic Law and the need for possible amendments, including constitutional regulations
and associated legal matters to give effect to the operational conduct of the referendum.

ENROLMENT CRITERIA FOR NON-RESIDENT
BOUGAINVILLEANS TO VOTE IN THE REFERENDUM
1. The JSB—
(a) noted the joint consultation undertaken with non-resident
Bougainvillean communities; and
(b) endorsed:

“That the Governments of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous
Region of Bougainville, under Section 55(1) of the Organic Law on Peace-building in Bougainville—Autonomous Bougainville Government and Bougainville Referendum, having consulted, agree on the following criteria to determine the links with Bougainville that a non-resident Bougainvillean must have in order to vote at the Referendum:
A person who is:
• Bougainvillean, as defined in Section 7(1) of the
Bougainville Constitution; and
• entitled to enrolment under Section 52(1) of the Organic Law
on National and Local-level Government Elections for an
electorate in Papua New Guinea outside the Autonomous
Region of Bougainville.

Notice of these criteria is to be published in the Gazettes of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous
Bougainville Government, and in a national newspaper.”
2. The JSB further resolved that following further joint legal advice on constitutional compliance, that the BRC should be responsible for putting in place the necessary mechanism to give effect to the above arrangements.

POST REFERENDUM TRANSITION, PEACE-BUILDING AND
POLITICAL SETTLEMENT
The JSB resolved:
1. That a Post Referendum Planning Taskforce, headed by the National Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville and the ABG Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation, guided by a group of eminent persons (to be jointly selected by the two minister), be established for the purpose of conducting post referendum scenario planning, with a view to reporting to the respective Parliaments by the end of 2018 with a particular emphasis on:
i) Ensuring peaceful acceptance of the referendum results;
ii) Timely consultation between the governments about the results of the referendum;
iii) Reference to the Parliament for timely ratification only if the two governments agree;

iv) Developing an agreed basis for the ongoing relationship between Bougainville and PNG.

Draft terms of reference are attached.
2. That funding for the Joint Referendum Tasks force be made available by both governments as a matter of urgency,
3. To agree on the holding of a Joint Post Referendum Summit and directed officials to immediately prepare the necessary documents for the conduct of the summit in late 2018 in Buka.

WEAPONS DISPOSAL
The JSB resolved:
1. To accept the progress report on the implementation of the Four Phase Weapons Disposal Plan.
2. That agreed national government funding support of K12 million over three years be affirmed, with a commitment that K7million in funds be provided in the 2018 financial year, subject to savings in the 2018 National Budget.
3. That the link between weapons disposal and a free and fair referendum be affirmed, noting that continued work to remove the scourge of weapons from Bougainville remains a joint National Government and ABG responsibility.
4. To note and endorse the proposed plan for the disposal of explosive ammunition and weapons and noted that that the two Chief Secretaries have jointly written to the Governments of the United States, Japan and Australia to seek funding and capacity building support to enable disposal of World War II remnants.
5. That further work be undertaken to establish some basic data against which Weapons Disposal completion can be assessed therefore direct the technical teams to examine the following information:
a. Records of PNGDF issued weapons to Bougainville groups,
b. Record of PNGDF weapons lost into Bougainville hands
c. Legally registered firearms in Bougainville as November 1988,
d. Legally registered firearms post 1988 to 2018
e. The PNG Firearms Act.

SECOND AUTONOMY REVIEW: IMPLEMENTATION OF 2017 JSB RESOLUTION # 4.1
The JSB resolved:

1. That the UN offer of technical and financial assistance for the conduct of the Review be noted and accepted.
2. That the experts proposed by the UN to conduct the review have been endorsed by the co-chairs of the JTT.
3. That Leaders note that the Review is expected to be finalised by the end of October 2018.

MOU ON DRAWDOWN OF POWERS
The JSB resolved:
(a) That work on the drawdown of powers should continue, noting the very limited progress to date, recognising that there is a need for enhanced agency engagement.
(b) That a meeting of the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) on the Drawdown of Powers convene without delay to consider a revised workplan for progressing the drawdown of powers, noting that priority should be given to those powers that provide maximum economic benefit.

AGENDA ITEM 11

FISHERIES DRAWDOWN: IMPLEMENTATION OF 2017 JSB
RESOLUTION # 4.3
The JSB resolved:
a. That the payment of K15 million from the NFA to the ABG be noted;
b. That both Governments recognise the importance for these funds to be used to enhance fisheries capacity;
c. That the ABG provide advice to the National Government on the allocation and distribution of the K15 million paid, noting specific reference to fisheries related projects;
d. That work on the consideration of delimiting maritime boundaries has commenced and that funds of K3.05 million be provided by the ABG to the NFA from the K15 million interim payment to enable to this work to progress;

e. To note the need for the ABG to nominate officers to participate in the Joint
Technical Working Group on Fisheries;
f. That following this work, further discussions between the two governments take place;
g. To note the need for the establishment of the Bougainville Fisheries Management Authority (BFMA).

RESTORATION AND DEVELOPMENT GRANT AND GOVERNMENT FINANCING
The JSB resolved:
(a) That Leaders re-affirm the compromise agreement on Restoration and Development Grant arrears reached at the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting of 15 December 2017.
(b) That Leaders agree that the arrears to be paid of K437 million are over and above any 2018 and future year budget allocations.
(c) That the two governments agree that the two Chief Secretaries will meet again to examine means through which disbursement of funds can be made.
(d) That the ABG will prepare an expenditure plan for the K35 million to be financed by the National Government in 2018.
(e) That further discussion on the formula to apply in relation to the RDG in future years take place before JSB, with a view to determining the formula and amount to apply in future years.
(f) That the governments shall jointly appoint a finance expert to advise on the correct approach to calculation of the RDG going forward, and if the governments are unable to agree on the advice provided, then a joint reference should be made to the Supreme Court seeking a binding ruling on how the RDG should be calculated in future years.

PEACE BUILDING IN BOUGAINVILLE AND BETWEEN
BOUGAINVILLE AND PNG
The JSB resolved to:
(a) Acknowledge the progress made on the ground in Bougainville, on high profile cases and through joint PNG National and Bougainville Women’s organisations as well as former combatant groups.
(b) Acknowledge the progress and success in relation to the endorsed program of work.

(c) Note the challenges involved in the tasks of peacebuilding in Bougainville.
(d) Note the need for another program of work in relation to National and International Reconciliation.
(e) Acknowledge the need for joint funding support for ongoing peacebuilding efforts.

TRANSFER OF BCL SHARES
The JSB resolved that the two Chief Secretaries will meet and discuss the legal status of the 17.4% of shares to be transferred to Landowners in the near future.

NATIONAL GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATION ON THE
BOUGAINVILLE SENIOR APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE
The JSB resolved that the Department of Prime Minister and NEC prepared a submission to Cabinet without delay, to enable national government representation of the BSAC to be formalised without delay.

Signed at Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, this 29th Day of June
2018 by:

Hon. Peter O’Neill Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Chief John L. Momis, President of Autonomous Region of Bougainville

 

Included in the 39 recommendations for the leaders consideration at the Joint Supervisory Body, Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, meeting are:

• Formally endorse Mr Bertie Ahern, international peace-builder and former President of Ireland, as Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) and invite him to attend the meeting of the JSB in Arawa from 28 to 29 June 2018.
• That ABG Members of the BRC, Mr Patrick Nisira and Ms Ruby Mirinka be noted and the National Government Members of the BRC be finalised before the meeting of the JSB.
• Establishment of funding of K20 million be transferred to a formally endorsed BRC trust account.
• The full Commission meet no later than 14 days after the JSB
• Officials meet to review legal arrangements related to the Organic Law and the need for possible amendments, including constitutional regulations and associated legal matters to give effect to the operational conduct of the referendum.
• Leaders formally consider questions to be put at the referendum, including the use of symbols and direct BRC to test the questions and ballot paper to ensure it is understood by the people
• Develop agreed process for post-referendum transition
• the two Chief Secretaries meet to examine means through which disbursement of outstanding K437 million can be made
• That the ABG will prepare an expenditure plan for the K135 million to be financed by the National Government in 2018.
• Endorse arrangement for the Second Autonomy review, which is expected to be finalised by the end of October 2018.
• Endorsement of the progress of the Four Phase Weapons Disposal Plan and funding support of K12 million over three years be affirmed, with a commitment that K7million in funds be provided in the 2018 financial year.

See Previous post

 ” The Joint Supervisory Body meeting held this afternoon agreed to defer the Questions to be put on the Referendum vote next year to its end of July meeting in Port Moresby “

See Part 2 Below

Mr Momis stressed that Bougainville is not receiving the amount of recurrent grant needed to meet salary costs, and not enough for our Public Service to do much at all.

President Momis said that he hoped that we will reach agreement here on what RDG payments should be going forward and that in 2019 we will see payment at the correct level, of more than SEVENTY MILLION KINA.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister in his response said that a Trust account for the BRC has been created and funds promised will be deposited soon.

He said that the National Government is committed to jointly implementing the Peace Agreement with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

He also said that he had brought FIVE MILLION KINA with him today for the RDG from the budget of FIFITEEN MILLION KINA for this year, with an outstanding of TEN MILLION KINA still to be paid.

Part 2 QUESTIONS TO BE PUT DEFERED TO JULY MEET

The Joint Supervisory Body meeting held this afternoon agreed to defer the Questions to be put on the Referendum vote next year to its end of July meeting in Port Moresby.

According to the resolution by today’s JSB meeting is that after receipt of joint legal advice on issues of constitutional compliance of different options for the question or questions to be put in the referendum a special JSB has been called before the end of July to consider what question or questions should be put including the use of symbols.

The meeting also resolved that once the question has been endorsed by the JSB the BRC will be tasked with undertaking testing and outreach work to ensure that the question is clearly understood, and that all eligible voters understand what each option means, including potential implications arising from either option.

This will also include development of a ballot design and appropriate wording in Tok Pisin.

 

Bougainville News ALERT : 39 recommendations for the leaders consideration at the Joint Supervisory Body, Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, June 28- 29 meeting

National Government and Bougainville Chief Secretaries, Isaac Lupari and Joseph Nobetau have agree on 39 recommendations to be put to the Prime Minister and President at the next Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting – confirmed for 28 – 29 June in Arawa.

The recommendations cover a wide range of issues under the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) including referendum and post-referendum issues, fisheries, outstanding grants owed to Bougainville, weapons disposal and border control.

Chief Secretary to the National Government Isaac Lupari said the meeting of the Joint Technical Team in preparation for the JSB was highly productive, and illustrated the current spirit of partnership, cooperation and preparedness between the two governments.

“These 39 recommendations will support the upcoming JSB to be a more effective forum for progressing referendum preparations and resolution of issues between the two governments under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.”

“It is a time for action and we are working hard,” Mr Lupari said.

“The National Government is fully committed to implementing the Bougainville Referendum in accordance with the Peace Agreement – and this includes a commitment to implementing the referendum on Bougainville’s future political status.”

Bougainville Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau said the two chief secretaries had undertaken multiple discussions since the last JSB to progress resolutions.

“There has been good work since the last JSB and I wish to acknowledge these fruitful discussions with the Chief Secretary that pave the way for preparing our leaders and supporting Bougainville implement all three pillars of the Peace Agreement,” Mr Nobetau said.

“Bougainvilleans are keen to see leadership resolve issues such as operationalizing the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the referendum question to be put to people and what will happen after the referendum.

“We hope that our recommendations will see resolution or progress on all these issues,” Mr Nobetau said.

“We must continue to work together to support the establishment of a fully operational Bougainville Referendum Commission, one that can conduct an independent, credible and successful referendum.”

Included in the 39 recommendations for the leaders consideration at the Joint Supervisory Body, Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, meeting are:

• Formally endorse Mr Bertie Ahern, international peace-builder and former President of Ireland, as Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) and invite him to attend the meeting of the JSB in Arawa from 28 to 29 June 2018.
• That ABG Members of the BRC, Mr Patrick Nisira and Ms Ruby Mirinka be noted and the National Government Members of the BRC be finalised before the meeting of the JSB.
• Establishment of funding of K20 million be transferred to a formally endorsed BRC trust account.
• The full Commission meet no later than 14 days after the JSB
• Officials meet to review legal arrangements related to the Organic Law and the need for possible amendments, including constitutional regulations and associated legal matters to give effect to the operational conduct of the referendum.
• Leaders formally consider questions to be put at the referendum, including the use of symbols and direct BRC to test the questions and ballot paper to ensure it is understood by the people
• Develop agreed process for post-referendum transition
• the two Chief Secretaries meet to examine means through which disbursement of outstanding K437 million can be made
• That the ABG will prepare an expenditure plan for the K135 million to be financed by the National Government in 2018.
• Endorse arrangement for the Second Autonomy review, which is expected to be finalised by the end of October 2018.
• Endorsement of the progress of the Four Phase Weapons Disposal Plan and funding support of K12 million over three years be affirmed, with a commitment that K7million in funds be provided in the 2018 financial year.

Ambassador Isaac Lupari, CBE
Chief Secretary Government of Papua New Guinea

Joseph Nobetau, Chief Secretary
Autonomous Bougainville Government

Bougainville News coverage : AROB ABG Day celebrates our 13 years as Autonomous Bougainville Government and the question is asked What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

This is a day that should be celebrated by all Bougainvilleans.

 The past 13 years has brought many challenges for Bougainville as we continue our journey towards political self-determination we have faced obstacles, these includes lack of funds, limited capacity and constraints on our ability to deliver effective services to our people.

 I am proud with what Bougainville has achieved so far.

 Bougainville has demonstrated through the establishments and operation of democratic institutions that we can indeed manage our own affairs

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Intro Photo Bruno Louey see FB Page Bruno Louey

 

 ” What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians

Simon Pentanu Speaker AROB House of Representatives see part 2

There is concern in Bougainville that the Papua New Guinea government has put off a key meeting for two weeks.

The Joint Supervisory Board, the JSB, was to meet yesterday {THUR}  in Arawa, to resolve a number of key issues concerning next year’s planned vote in Bougainville on possible independence from PNG.

But at the behest of Port Moresby the JSB meeting was put back two weeks.

Don Wiseman spoke to the deputy leader of the PNG opposition and MP for southern Bougainville, Timothy Masiu, about the delay

Listen to interview

Part 1 ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS addresses ABG Day celebration

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The President said that Bougainville has implemented important reforms established enabling laws and developed public service institutions and structures for the future.

And through the finalization of our strategic development plan we have a road map for the future that includes the referendum and beyond.

President MOMIS stressed that Bougainville cannot become complacent as we mark the anniversary of the Autonomous Government we must also continue to recognize the continued issues that we face.

He said we must remain vigilant in our fight against corruption and in our desire to ensure that our affairs are conducted according to the highest standards of good governance.

At the same time we must continue to grow our economy, empower our people and lay the continued foundation for lasting peace and prosperity throughout Bougainville.

Part 2 THIRTEEN YEARS ON THE SAME MESSAGE CAN BE REPEATED ON BOUGAINVILLE DAY 2018.

 ” THE morning began with a dawn service. The heavens opened with clear blue skies above and cool breeze from the sea unfurling the PNG, Bougainville and NSW flags to show their cacophony of colours flapping high on flagstaff.

The Bougainville Parliament devoted today’s 13th AROB Day celebrations to the Youth of Bougainville with students from St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary, St Joseph’s College Mabiri, Bishop Wade Secondary and Hutjena Secondary, invited to attend.

Our other main guests was a parliamentary delegation from the NSW State Parliament.

Our theme 2018: Children and Youth represent continuity and future of Bougainville.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker

As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership). PPP have not really worked to any great success anywhere because there is still a dependence and expectation syndrome on the public purse of governments.

Free enterprise in our community oriented existence must involve initiatives and better participation by women at sustainable levels where they haven proven themselves in local enterprises.

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected Bougainville more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

Bougainville News and the 2019 Referendum : Top 5 News Stories this week as Bougainville has a date with destiny : Download the Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Top 5 Bougainville News articles this week

1.The Papua New Guinea government is not doing enough to support Bougainville as it prepares for a referendum on possible independence

2. Issues with the shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd are still causing frustrations for the Bougainville Government.

3.Meeting with PNG Prime Minister in Arawa on June 14 is expected to also consider the PNG government’s failure to meet its earlier commitment to pay 20 million kina to Bougainville to help the Referendum Commission prepare for the vote on possible independence

4.The PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI) will be hosting a National Conference from the 5th to the 7th of June 2018 at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby on the Bougainville Referendum.

The Conference theme is: “IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM”.

5.Bougainville Strategic Pan 2018-2022

Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018 2022

The Vision reflects the aspirations of the Bougainville
people to create a prosperous and strong region. It has
been developed from community consultation, and
captures the aspirations of people to drive change, to
improve prosperity, to support peace and stability and to
plan for a better future.
A united, safe, peaceful, healthy, educated,
prosperous and resilient Bougainville, that
promotes respect, trust, our Christian and
cultural values, and recognises the identity and
rights of our people.

Part 1 : The Papua New Guinea government is not doing enough to support Bougainville as it prepares for a referendum on possible independence, a PNG MP says.

Last week, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told parliament the vote was not simply about independence but embraced a number of factors.

He also said maintaining the country’s unity was all important.

But the regional MP for Bougainville, Joe Lera, said as the province prepared for the vote in June next year, the PNG government had not been honouring its commitments under the Peace Agreement.

“They have done a lot on the development side of things, like restored some big infrastructure, like airports, power and all these things, roads, but on the political side the province has not been getting the level of support that they should be giving according to the Peace Agreement.”

The autonomous region of Bougainville is to hold a vote on possible independence from PNG next year – a step that marks the culmination of a 20 year peace process.

Mr O’Neill told parliament former leaders would not want the country divided up, saying he would not want to let Bougainville go.

He spoke of the need for unity and stability but Mr Lera, said the Peace Agreement was about enhancing peace and did not talk about unity.

“The bottom line is the issue of independence is part of the Peace Agreement. So, for the prime minister to base his comments on unity, the unity is not in the Peace Agreement. But I understand where he is coming from because he doesn’t want the country to break up,” he said.

Part 2 : Two years ago multinational Rio Tinto, which was the majority owner of BCL, ditched its commitments and gave its shares to the Papua New Government and the landowners of Bougainville.

The autonomous Bougainville Government deemed the landowners shares go to it, giving it 36.4 percent of the company, according to the BCL website.

But at a BCL board meeting last month the ABG was not permitted to vote in accordance with its shareholding.

An ABG cabinet minister, Albert Punghau, says the share transfer from the PNG government has apparently not been completed.

“The Prime Minister he said he would be giving it back to the Panguna landowners, through the ABG,” said Mr Panghau.

“That has not been done as yet so that issues needs to be rectified and at the JSB [meeting later this month between both governments] so that we can finally put the matter to rest.”

The meeting in Arawa on June 14 is expected to also consider the PNG government’s failure to meet its earlier commitment to pay 20 million kina to Bougainville to help the Referendum Commission prepare for the vote on possible independence.

The vote is scheduled for June 15, 2019.

PNG is also yet to appoint two officials to join two Bougainville officials and former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, who is to head the body.

Part 3 : Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neill in responding to South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu, regarding the issue that government officials should regularly visit the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. O’Neill says that he will go to Bougainville.

PM O’Neill stressed that he will be in Arawa come June 14, that the government is committed to Bougainville and would honour every word in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

O’Neill said that the peace agreement will go according to the Papua New Guinea Constitution, we will not detour, O’Neill also said that he is not afraid to visit Bougainville and welcomes views and is ready to listen.

We should not divide our country but stand as one, founders like, President John Momis, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan did not want a division but to be united as one, other issues should not be an obstacle to the peace agreements.

Part 4 : The PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI) will be hosting a National Conference from the 5th to the 7th of June 2018 at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby on the Bougainville Referendum.

The Conference theme is: “IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM”.

The three days conference will focus on key issues relating to the implications for the Referendum. The conference will feature participants from the Government of Papua New Guinea, Autonomous Bougainville Government, Development Partners, Heads of Missions in PNG, Churches, Private Entities, interested individuals and the Independent Research Experts.

Download here

Opportunities will be provided for researchers, officials, and participants to share their views, respond to questions, and explore additional issues that may deserve detailed consideration in the preparation for the referendum.

Attendance by registration only: referendum.research@pngnri.org or call mobile number 72198306.

The proceedings of this conference will be broadcast by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Some of the sessions will be live and other sessions recorded and played through NBC Bougainville and all provincial stations.

5.Bougainville Strategic Pan 2018-2022

 

Download here Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018 2022

An awareness of the Bougainville Strategic Development 2018- 2022

THE VISION

The Vision reflects the aspirations of the Bougainville
people to create a prosperous and strong region. It has
been developed from community consultation, and
captures the aspirations of people to drive change, to
improve prosperity, to support peace and stability and to
plan for a better future.
A united, safe, peaceful, healthy, educated,
prosperous and resilient Bougainville, that
promotes respect, trust, our Christian and
cultural values, and recognises the identity and
rights of our people.

United
While the ABG will always have diversity and
differences among ourselves as individuals, families and
communities we are united in our desire for a strong
Bougainville. Bougainvilleans must unite to implement
the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Referendum
peacefully and let it be a process of integrity.
Safe and peaceful
We want Bougainville to be free of weapons and
lawlessness. Women, children and men must be able to
move around Bougainville without the fear of violence.

Healthy
Good health is essential for a good quality of life. The
people of Bougainville deserve access to quality health
care, nutritious food, clean drinking water and good
sanitation.

Educated
Education and training are the keys to improving the life
opportunities of our people and enabling them to reach
their full potential. They are also vital to Bougainville’s
economic development and growth. Our vision is that all
Bougainville children should attend school. Every adult
has the right to be given the opportunity to read, write
and learn a trade.

Resilient
We want to be self-reliant as families, communities and
as a government. We want to be able to use what we
have to meet our needs.

Prosperous
We want to see our people advance in all aspects of
life through having enough income to participate in our
society with dignity. It is our way for privileged persons
to voluntarily forego benefits to enable those who are
less privileged to have a little more.
Christian and cultural values
We are a Christian people and live by the values of
Christianity and our traditional culture which was
developed over thousands of years. We will respect and
preserve our culture.

Identity
We are Bougainvilleans. Our identity must be
incorporated into every aspect of the political, economic
and religious institutions and how they interact with
each other as individuals and communities. Development
must take place through Bougainvillean Ways. We
will seek to promote our traditional ways such as
participation, consultation and seeking consensus in how
we go about the business of government.

Rights
Respecting human dignity and life, and living according
to our moral, spiritual and cultural values will enable us
to be a free people who respect each others right to live
peacefully in Bougainville.

Bougainville #PeaceAgreement #Referendum and #Mining News Updates : @pngnri to host a National Conference on the Bougainville Referendum ” “Implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the implications for the referendum

“ The Autonomous Bougainville Government wants to ensure nothing undermines the region’s unity ahead of the referendum on independence.

In June next year Bougainvilleans will be asked to vote on whether they want independence from Papua New Guinea in what will be the final chapter of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Efforts had been underway to re-open the Panguna mine which was closed by the region’s civil war, but disputes within local communities caused the Bougainville parliament to place an indefinite moratorium on any mining there.

President John Momis said landowners are split with factions supporting different mining companies.

“For us you know determining Bougainville’s future is more paramount right now. It is the priority we are focussing our attention to, to make sure that the people of Bougainville are united, so we don’t want any other issues to undermine this unity.”

News Part 2 Mining

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has reinforced its decision to continue with the moratorium over Panguna Mine after seeking advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council.

ABG Vice President and Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources Raymond Masono said the decision stems from the advice of the BMAC and recent deliberation by Bougainville House of Representatives.

Upon these advices the Bougainville Executive Council under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 Section 66(subsection 1) has designated the area, approximately 37.8 square kilometres to be reserved from any mining activity.

The area covers the Mine Pit, Dapera, Moroni, Pirurari and borders Guava Village which literally means the areas where the Panguna Mine operations were once situated.

As the ABG tightens its reins over Panguna the continued squabbling between BCL and RTG has intensified as the two companies try to entice the ABG and landowner groups to supporting their right to mine Panguna.

Under the ABG’s Mining Act the landowners have the final say as to who will be allowed back to Panguna but the division them amongst has irked the ABG.

Sources close to the ABG have disclosed that the moratorium will remain in place until the landowners can unite and agree on the developer they prefer back in Panguna.

The first declaration of the moratorium was initiative by the BMAC late last year after negotiations with both companies broke down.

News Part 2.2

Mining company Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) has advised the Australian sharemarket the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) decision not to renew its exploration licence at Panguna has been stayed in the National Court of Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville's Panguna Copper mine

Bougainville’s Panguna Copper mine Photo: Supplied

The vast Panguna copper and gold mine once generated nearly half of PNG’s annual export revenue.

BCL ran Panguna until the outbreak of civil war in 1989 in which grievances caused by the mine were central to the 10 year conflict that cost over 20,000 lives.

It is one of two companies that have been vying to re-open Panguna and has told the market it will continue to pursue the rights of its shareholders.

BCL company secretary Mark Hitchcock said the company was due back in court next month as it was seeking a judicial review over the non-renewal of the licence.

The ABG placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna which Mr Hitchcock said BCL would respect.

“We just need to protect the rights of everybody. That includes our shareholders and the majority of the landowners that we see as supporting us. And we are just trying to maintain the status quo at the moment,” he said.

“We have always politely gone about our work, and respectfully gone about our work in relation to EL1 (exploration licence) and we will continue to do that.”

News Part 3 Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee on Bougainville Affairs 

The Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee on Bougainville Affairs says vital issues pertaining to next year’s referendum need to addressed before the end of this year.

A tentative date of June 15th 2019 has been set for a referendum on possible independence in the Autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Its report, which had been tabled in Parliament, included calls for additional funds to be provided, over and above the grants to which Bougainville is already entitled.

It said the National Co-ordination Office for Bougainville Affairs should become a stand-alone entity, rather than being part of the Prime Minister’s Department.

The report said this agency should have offices in both Port Moresby and Buka so it could become the focal point for development co-operation partners, NGOs and businesses interested in engaging in Bougainville.

It said the National Executive Council should also consider extending the Special Intervention Fund beyond the referendum, when Bougainville would still require support for governance and development, whatever the final outcome.

The Post Courier reported the committee saying it is vital the National Government and the ABG consider and fund economic plans so that the Bougainville economy grows and diversifies.

News Part 4 Bougainville parallel political structures 

There is a need to look at the parallel political structures now in place in Bougainville, the Parliamentary Committee on Bougainville Referendum says.

The report, which was tabled in Parliament by the committee chairman William Powi, found that there were two sets of political structures and two sets of leaders performing almost the same kind of responsibilities.

“These two sets of leaders are the four national leaders who are members of the National Parliament and the 40 Bougainville House of Representatives members.

Mr Powi said that the establishment of the ABG in 2005 had paved way for the co-existence of the dual parallel political structures.

He said that these structures are occupied by two sets of leaders who are elected by the same Bougainville voters and serving the very same Bougainville constituencies that had similar development aspiration for the people and share similar views in terms of policy initiatives for development and service delivery.

Mr Powi said that the sources of friction appeared to be threefold, first, there was the case of what could be called “dual legitimacy” where both governments claim that their respective elected leaders were the rightful or mandated representatives of the Bougainville people.

“While this matter can easily be brushed aside as a needless political tussle, the issues at hand really boils down to who really should be playing the leading role in setting the development agenda as well as the pace for Bougainville’s political future. One can see the logic in the two sets of leaders’ cooperating, but apparently they have not been able to do so for a long time. That is why Bougainville’s Speaker, Simon Pentanu, considered it a significant achievement when the four national MPS recently started taking their seats in Bougainville’s House of Representatives,” he said.

He said secondly, there appeared to be disconnected with policies and development initiatives between the National Government and ABG.

“The National Government has major projects funded through sources like special intervention fund while national MPs have the provincial support improvement programs. At the same time, the ABG has its own budget, projects and implementation schedules. However the four national parliamentarians are able to implement their projects without ease compared to the cash-strapped ABG government.

“Just like the parallel political structure, there are parallel development initiatives sprouting throughout the autonomous region without proper linkage to generate maximum impact from allocated resources,” Mr Powi said.

News Part 5 Bougainville Unity must bring peace

The sacrifice made by Bougainvilleans during the Crisis must not be in vain as the region faces off with deciding its ultimate political future.

Chairman of the North Nasioi Community Government Rodney Niangko said that there has to be unity amongst Bougainvilleans and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to making this political dream a reality.

“The unity that brought us together to end the civil war and bring about peace on the island must again be called upon to unite us as we prepare for the referendum,” Mr Niangko said.

Mr Niangko said that Bougainville must rise to the occasion and show the international community that its people are willing and able to be the masters of their own destiny.

Mr Niangko said that reconciliation amongst Bougainvilleans is tantamount to all aspects of the referendum preparations for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

He added that the people must fully understand the concept of self-determination and not to succumb to any negativity that will endanger the process of the referendum.

Mr Niangko then paid tribute to former North Solomons Provincial Government member John Bika who was assassinated during the Crisis.

He said that it was only through the sacrifice of leaders like Mr Bika that Bougainville’s struggle was overcome.

The Minister for Primary Industries and Member for North Nasioi Nicholas Daku also reverberated these sentiments

Bougainville Environment News Alert : Rusty wrecks and major oil spill threaten Island life ,economy and environment

 

” If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.

What has happened is criminal. I think it is more than criminal because even if the people responsible are arraigned and put behind bars it may not rid the Harbour of the oil very well.

ABG must formally request and assign environmental experts in oil spills to carry out an immediate survey and assessment of the spill. They can then either confirm the worst fears of the Pokpok Islanders and other coastal villages regarding the extent of the oil spill or put people at rest that the problem can be arrested and alleviated at least.”

Simon Pentanu

I am writing this with a lot of hurt and annoyance. My people’s and my worst fear is now real. The oil spill is real. It is not in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico or in the Middle East. It is at home. The waters of the Harbour come right ashore along the village beachfront where children swim and play everyday.

Kieta Harbour is one of the most pristine, picturesque, much photographed and captivating harbours anywhere; anywhere in the Pacific Region, anywhere in the world.

The Harbour is not big in comparison to other beautiful harbours I have seen in my travels around the world. But I have always thought to myself it is a big enough Harbour for the size of Bougainville Island. Every harbour in the world has its captivating features. Kieta Harbour has hers.

I have no doubt captains and sailors of every ship, schooner, yacht, and sloop – even the penische the Germans may have used around here pre WW1 – that have come here for the first time, enter with a breathtaking welcome by the contrasting colours of the pristine blue waters and the rainforest green on all sides of the Harbour.

Because the Harbour is also a shape of a water-filled crater the oil spill is, potentially, going to have a devastating effect. The Harbour is roughly encircled at both entrances with the snout and tail of Pokpok Island almost meeting the mainland at both entrances.

It is almost like a large pond. This means any oil spill in the Harbour will get trapped in the heart of the Harbour, and spread along the coast of Pokpok and the mainland from Tubiana and all along Happy Valley and out.

The principle signatory to the business arrangement and agreement that brought the ill-fated ships into Kieta is the local member for North Nasioi and Minister for Primary Industry Hon Nicholas Daku MHR. This is his second term both as a member of BHOR and as Minister in ABG. So he is someone that has matured into Bougainville politics and fortunate enough to have a bite at the same cherry as far as ministerial portfolios is concerned. Yet, during all this time he has been conspicuous by his overt absence and muted silence.

The other signatory is an officer in the ABG Commerce division Raymond Moworu.

As a matter of fact and record this is an ABG project, a project quickly cooked up and hushed up by the Minister on the eve of 2015 ABG election. Even if the Minister and the officer signed the papers blindfolded it does not exonerate them or make their responsibility – or culpability – any less because they were acting for and on behalf of ABG in promoting the project. When all is said and events come to pass the buck stops with the Minister. It is called ministerial responsibility.

I’m very annoyed because I have personally mentioned the impending disaster to the Hon Minister Daku more than once verbally since 2016-17. I started doing this after I went around by boat to the Kieta government wharf where the ships had been berthed for some time. I first took photographs of the boats in March 2016 because I noticed they were not sailing anymore. It looked very obvious to me then the boats were fatigued and were rusting away into disrepair and wreck. I even posted the photographs with a warning on my FB Timeline observing that there were obvious signs of impending disaster and that the authorities must do something about removing the ships.

If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.

 

It is futile and waste of time calling for a commission of enquiry especially when the Minister and ABG should have acted to prevent this after they were warned and could see the impending disaster was obvious out there staring into their face in broad daylight.

The Minister has been AWOL and very hard to contact when all this has been going on. With all due respect he should resign. If he does not he should be decommissioned and relieved of ministerial responsibilities and someone else that is prepared to work and is serious about ministerial responsibility appointed to take charge. Party politics, including party allegiances, should not get in the way of such a decision. IF it doesn’t happen we might as well throw the towel in because otherwise we are complicit in a style of governance that isn’t going to deliver Bougainville where it wants to go.

North Nasioi constituency also has the option to pursue the member through the recall provision in the constitution and evict him from Parliament.

When I saw myself the ships were let off afloat from berth at the Kieta wharf the least I could do is ask someone – anyone – to help after contacting NMSA whose officers to their credit immediately turned up in Buka. Before their arrival I was very heartened that the member for Selau and Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Referendum agreed and was, also of his own volition, so ready and willing to travel to Kieta with two of my senior parliamentary staff I asked to be at NMSA’s disposal on the visit to Kieta.

The Member for Selau knows Kieta well and leaders from Kieta well. In Parliament he and Hon Minister Daku are sat next to each other. Pokpok has a historical link with Selau through Chief Keroro. Growing up in the mid 50’s I saw Chief Keroro arrive in his penische (dinghy) and would beach it in the village beachfront while he would spend time to visit and talk to our Chief at the time. These were times when Chiefs in North, Central and south Bougainville knew of each other.

The other day I posted a piece on my FB Timeline with an old photo of Pokpok Island and village looking across from Kieta in a moving speed boat in 1989. I wrote about how the Islanders are resilient and generally how the folk in the communities around Bougainville are resilient in times of difficulties, disasters and other adversities. I was deliberate in the timing of that posting as I felt a disquiet anticipation that it was just a matter of time before one of the hapless ships would sink.

This oil spill is something terribly alarming. Our Disaster office does not have the capacity to attend to it. It pains my heart to think how my people will be affected. I’m traveling away abroad on medical leave for the coming two weeks and even more pained not knowing the extent of the oil spill and its resultant effect on the Islanders and their livelihood from the sea they depend on in so many ways.

Mr Ho the ships owner must be found. His second vessel is still afloat but has no anchor to keep it anchored safely anywhere.

It is time for ABG to ask for help from GoPNG and from outside to assess and contain the spill.

 

Bougainville #Referendum and #Environment News : A choice between selling our inheritance down the river or creating a future for all

 ” The Referendum on 15 June 2019 is not just a political referendum. It is a Referendum on what kind of society Bougainville wants to have. It is a referendum on our resources and economic choices into future.

It is a referendum on how we relate and contribute to the world’s wellbeing being part of the global community.

It is a referendum on how much and for how long we want the island to prosper and what our generation will bequeath to our children and their children and their children’s children.

 We definitely do not want a Bougainville where a few benefit at the expense of the majority.

No child in Bougainville should suffer or sacrifice their future owing to poor decisions around development and management of our natural resources and our environment.

The choice is we either sell our inheritance down the river or create a future for all, always putting children and future generations first.”

Simon Pentanu

You might have seen a recent TV report showing a huge area of rainforest in Pomio, East New Britain, that has been completely logged and bulldozed and is expected to be turned into an oil palm plantation.

It is like walking through a thick and dense tropical jungle, after some hours you walk into an empty space, into an open field denuded and devoid of trees. You look straight ahead and you see nothing standing but a barren field with odour and sight of death and destruction. It is very confronting. You do not know what to think or what to say. You find it very hard to breathe because a solid lump of something has come up your oesophagus and is embedded in your throat. This is what losing whole tracts of native forests in traditional land can do to you.

Logging by foreign companies is the worst example of intrusion into traditional landowners natural habitats. These are complex habitats, including many sacred sites, that have supported lives, cultures, and that give meaning to the relationship between man and his environment. It is an existential relationship beyond any symbiotic explanation that defines why and how the world’s people find themselves settled where they are on this planet

Papua New Guinea, insofar as the world’s rainforests are concerned, is a part of the planet that is still blessed and still full of life compared to others countries that have squandered their forests and dislocated their forest people. Companies that arrive here with men, machines and plants from these countries do so with foreboding contempt of  the planet as if it is lifeless with no feelings. It is a total disregard for the people’s lifelong dependence and fascination with the places they have call home – their seas and oceans, the old growth tropical rainforests, the creatures that add life and colour to the beautiful landscape where there is sharing and caring  for  one another.

The planet is not lifeless to not be concerned  about snuffing life out of it. And yet this is exactly the behavior of loggers that come here after depleting forests in their own countries. Somehow they have succeeded to numb us, hypnotize and buy us off with the colour, smell and value of money which will never ever be enough to account for or replace what they take away and the destruction they leave behind.

 The recent report on TV also let it be known that Papua New Guinea has overtaken Malaysia to become the world’s biggest exporter of tropical hardwood

 The desolate moonscape you see on the screen used to be a living, breathing forest, providing habitat for animals and birds, filtering drinking water for villages and providing an ever-renewing source of house-building materials. Now the trees, animals, birds and clean water are gone. The wood has been shipped to China to be processed and sold in other parts of the world.

 So much damage has been done to the next generation’s inheritance through the notorious Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). SABLs have been big money-spinners for multinational logging companies, allowing the companies to clear fell vast tracts of people’s forest and use the profits from timber to finance establishment of oil palm plantations. The plantations might look green, but they are nothing like the richly biodiverse rainforest. Rather, they are barren monocultures with a limited lifespan.

 Why do we continue to let this happen to irreplaceable tropical rainforests? And why is it up to NGOs to tell us what’s happening! Why aren’t the people we elect to represent our interests actually representing our interests?

Sadly, the lessons of the past are going unlearned. The Fly River is not the same since BHP left it for dead. The only worse river disaster in our region is the Aikwa River in Indonesia’s Papua province, which has turned thick and grey from decades of tailings from the Freeport gold and copper mine being dumped into the waterway. Mining there, which is carried out under armed military guard, looks set to continue until the entire resource is gone.

 The Jaba River in Bougainville isn’t too far behind. While there is evidence the river and its tributaries are regenerating, the banks and marshes will never be the same as they once were. Those opposing any return to mining in Panguna raise concerns about the natural environment and the legacy that will be left for future generations of Bougainvilleans.

 It won’t be long before Ramu Nickel’s effluence clogs the rivers and estuaries where everything is being dumped including the sea. Don’t hold your breath that environmental laws will protect the environment on which the bulk of the population depends for their entire livelihoods. They cannot eat effluent

 PNG is a guinea pig, the world’s first, in underwater/seabed mining by Nautilus off the waters off of New Ireland, East and West New Britain and Manus Provinces. The world should be absolutely appalled that a company that has borrowed and uses the name of a beautiful sea living creature is sending down gigantic machines, controlled from the water’s surface, to plough the sea floor, mechanically scavenging sea vents and destroying everything in their way, including the habitat of the nautilus shell.

 This is why Nautilus, a Canadian company, will not mine the seabed off Canada. If it is not allowed or is illegal to mine underwater in Canada. So, where does the company pluck the courage or get the audacity to ravage and plunder in our waters.

 The company has done its sums, while in a too familiar story in this country, the local populations are left scratching their heads, wondering just how their contented and happy lives are going to be made happier by this ravaging of their local environment. Nautilus company executives and its PNG citizen staff that are promoting and supporting this guinea pig project should be looked in the eye and asked just why this destructive project should proceed. Greed and insatiable appetite for profit at whatever cost to the local environment are the apparent underlying reasons. Enough is never enough.

 The company and its promoters seem to be wilfully blind not to want to see how much the people depend on the environment for their lives. Nothing can ever take the place of what the indigenous people have always regarded and used as their capital that has supported and sustained generations since time immemorial

 The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is in a great position to learn valuable lessons from the Panguna mine and from the violent crisis that followed. A story Bougainville is still reeling from. Bougainville must also learn from the experiences in other parts of the country and the region where resources wealth when exploited does not equal economic or social improvement for the resource owners.

 Bougainville is a small island, fragile and prone to all manners of exploitation, given its natural resources. Resource development in partnership with investors is not evil. But there must be zero tolerance when it comes to companies not complying fully with environmental laws of protection and conservation. There must not be a repeat to the worst case scenarios of what led to the Bougainville scenarios. The leaders must maintain a level of vigilance and commitment that behooves all of us to be at our best standards and practices of good governance.

 We may be already lagging in enacting relevant environmental and conservation legislation. It is simply wrong to say it is impossible to attract investment if we are strong on our statutory requirements and benchmarks for investment. It is in the interests of Bougainville and prospective investors to do sustainable business. This is not possible if the land and resources are destroyed in a one-off feeding frenzy. Careful stewardship is what sustains any business investment

 Most of all, Bougainville must beware – and be aware – and learn from its mistakes and the mistakes of others. Smart business will always pay. Mindful business will always pay. The people who need protection are the resource owners. Long before Panguna the landowners there were self-sufficient, independent of the judgment of others and wise with how they treated and used the land, the rivers, the trees and the forests.

We need the efforts and assistance of others to ‘develop’ Bougainville in a way that will last. We need investors that will build mutual trust with our leaders and resource owners. We need to educate and inform resource owners to respect laws and agreements with genuine investors. It must be a two-way street. 

The Referendum on 15 June 2019 is not just a political referendum. It is a Referendum on what kind of society Bougainville wants to have. It is a referendum on our resources and economic choices into future. It is a referendum on how we relate and contribute to the world’s wellbeing being part of the global community. It is a referendum on how much and for how long we want the island to prosper and what our generation will bequeath to our children and their children and their children’s children

 Any development at, around, and in forest rich resource areas in fragile environments like Tonolei must stand and pass the scrutiny of all stakeholders, the ABG, independent experts on land use and those that have studied the known damage to land by palm oil plantations. We must not shy away from independent critique on the potential decimation of the area, including logging and denuding  trees if an SABL-type Agreement is what is being proposed. Transparency is the key to all resources development to which governments are a party.

 We must come out of the Referendum, irrespective of how the cookie crumbles, with a Bougainville that caters to everybody. A Bougainville that everyone benefits from because we all own a piece of her. A Bougainville where our inherent cultures are not so much about giving and taking but rather, more about sharing.

We definitely do not want a Bougainville where a few benefit at the expense of the majority. No child in Bougainville should suffer or sacrifice their future owing to poor decisions around development and management of our natural resources and our environment. The choice is we either sell our inheritance down the river or create a future for all, always putting children and future generations first.