The Autonomous Bougainville Government continues to make headway under its Independence Mission Strategy to practicalise the people’s 97.7 percent vote for Independence.
The Bougainville Independence Mission which was launched by President Hon. Ishmael Toroama in April 2021, marked the beginning of the implementation of a trident strategy to prepare Bougainville for independence.
Under this Trident Strategy, the first prong covered independence-ready preparations within Bougainville by Bougainvilleans, the second prong covered independence-ready preparations within Papua New Guinea and the third prong launched today, will focus on independence-ready preparations with the international community.
The International Prong was launched under the theme “Promoting Bougainville’s Global Trade & Investment”, and aims to establish support for Bougainville’s independence through enhanced trade and investment relations.
Speaking at the launch, ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development Hon. Patrick Nisira explained that under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, it outlines ABG’s opportunities to bring forth this change in the global scene in concurrence with the national government’s foreign affairs department.
“There are provisions in the Bougainville Peace Agreement that provide for ABG to have observer status on various trade and investment platforms at the international frontier. These avenues must now be utilized to expose and integrate Autonomous Bougainville Government and its potential into the international prong,” he said.
“As we reach out to the international frontier our focus must be on growing the Bougainville economy and attaining fiscal self-reliance through international trade and sound investment and support for Bougainville as it integrates into the global community and building foreign relationships.”
Under the International Prong, a number of key tasks will be implemented to support its implementation. These include:
1. Set-up of a Bougainville Desk under the National Department of Foreign Affairs
2. Set-up of a Bougainville Desk at the National Trade Office
3. Collaboration with the PNG Overseas Missions
4. A Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate Trade and Economic Integration
5. Requesting for observer status on various forums like the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Melanesian Spearhead Group, EU Economic Partnership Agreement with PNG and APEC plus others.
Minister Nisira reiterated that Bougainvilleans must understand that Bougainville is part of a bigger global village and cannot exist on its own, however the Government through the international prong, will work towards building mutual relationships and trust through government-to-government relationships that will enhance trade and investment for Bougainville as an emerging island state in the Pacific.
Minister Nisira also appealed strongly to the people of Bougainville as the resource owners to work closely with the government.
“I appeal to the people of Bougainville especially the resource owners to work closely with my Ministry, Department and the Toroama-Nisira government to prepare ourselves to release the resources for development to have maximum benefits and equitable distribution of wealth with the investors, the state and the resource owners,” he said.
“Let me also inform Bougainvilleans that as we embark on the international prong through trade and investment, we must be responsible citizens. We must fix our law-and-order issues to provide a conducive environment for investment and trade to flourish,” Nisira added.
The Autonomous Region of Bougainville celebrated the 17th Anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government on June 15.
Celebrations were held in the three regional capitals in North Bougainville (Buka Town), Central Bougainville (Arawa Town) and South Bougainville (Buin Town).
Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama was in Arawa for the celebrations where he was the keynote speaker.
President Toroama paid tribute to former Bougainville leaders as well ex-combatants who fought in the Bougainville Civil War.
He said their sacrifice made possible the existence of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the legal framework that preceded the ABG and allowed it’s creation.
“In the present my government has finally positioned Bougainville ready to attain independence but doing so through the established legal process,” President Toroama said.
“However, this does not mean our people can suddenly become complacent. We all have a duty to Bougainville and to honor the blood that was spilled on our island to work with our government to achieve political independence,” Toroama said.
“There are a lot of people who are find of asking where the government up to with its development priorities and independence readiness but I turn to you and ask you, Na yu nap where?” Toroama said.
On June 15th 2005 the first Bougainville House of Representatives was sworn in with the Late Joseph Kabui as President and witnessed by then Prime Minister the Late Great Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
This gave birth to the autonomous arrangements that have since been in place on Bougainville.
” Scramble for Resources shines much-needed light on the practices of the new waves of mining and exploration companies in Bougainville. Given the sheer number of Australian companies involved in this stampede for Bougainville’s resources, and the consequences for people living on the island, its findings should cause Australians to sit up and take notice. ”
– The Hon Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia
Bougainville, which is transitioning towards independence from Papua New Guinea, has attracted mining and minerals exploration companies from around the world, drawn by its valuable copper and gold reserves. Most of these companies are based in or have links to Australia.
Bougainville is home to the Panguna mine – once one of the largest operating copper and gold mines in the world. During its operation from 1972-1989, the mine operator, then a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, dumped one billion tonnes of mining waste into Bougainville’s rivers with devastating environmental consequences. The mine sparked a brutal ten-year conflict on the island, the effects of which are seen to this day.
Over a two-year investigation, we tracked the companies vying for the right to mine on the island, ranging from one-person outfits to global operations backed by major investors. Some are hoping to reopen the defunct Panguna mine.
We found that at least two of the companies seeking mining rights at Panguna have been making payments to landowner groups who are likely to be involved in decisions about whether to reopen the mine. Another company made payments to the local police.
Our report also looks at two leaked corporate presentations prepared for the Bougainvillean Government that advised it to put valuable mining rights in the hands of offshore companies set up in a secrecy jurisdiction.
Our report raises questions about corporate accountability, transparency and who is responsible for safeguarding human rights and the environment when multinational companies are operating overseas.
Further, it highlights the importance of corporate political engagement being transparent, responsible and in the public interest. When Australian companies operate overseas, they should be answerable for the human and environmental impacts of their operations.
Based on the findings of the report, we recommend that Australia put in place a mandatory human rights due diligence mechanism and a corporate beneficial ownership register to hold companies to account for the impact of their operations on communities overseas.
Whether or not to reopen Bougainville to large-scale mining is a decision for the people of Bougainville and their government. It is important that anyone seeking to mine there has the free, prior and informed consent of all landowners, and that mining ventures deliver genuine benefits to local communities and avoid repeating the environmental devastation of the past.
“For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better.
The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed. ”
The benches around the Panguna mine that were so conspicuous and became almost a landmark of this humongous pit are still visible but mostly either in a state of collapse through slow seeping water erosion or giving way, tired of lying around with no purpose to fulfil.
The pit is a massive ‘dingkung’ (hole) on Bougainville’s landscape; it is also a massive statement that man is capable of gutting the resources and riches of the Earth from its belly and leave the land wasted and torn asunder after its riches have been extracted and shipped away.
The creepers and dwarf alpine tree roots that have held the land around the rim of the open-cut mine intact have been eroded through crevices allowing rain water to seep into the pit. Some of this water turns into a turquoise-green pond after it has come into contact with copper traces in the rocks.
The Euclid trucks and electric shovels in the pit that were torched at the height of crisis and sat in neat rows as lifeless sitting ducks, looking down from the top of the pit, are no longer there. Anything that was worth salvaging to sell as scrap has gone.
There is nothing much to find, cut or sell from Panguna anymore. It would be a completely desolate place if not for the resilience of women, who – despite the land, the creeks and the jungle and fauna and flora they have lost – still go about their traditional chores attached to the land.
Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. They have gone back to gardening, growing vegetables on whatever arable land was spared of mining.
There are no commercial tree crops like cocoa and coconut grown in Panguna. The people’s limited source of income comes from the vegetables from the land that find their way from the Crown Prince Range to the fruit and vegetable markets at Morgan Junction and Arawa.
The more you look at Panguna and the few remnants from its mining days, the more it looks as if some gigantic monster landed here and trampled on everything with its huge feet.
It is unimaginable how a whole area of rainforest could disappear from this once-beautiful place. Yes, humans – at our very best and our very worst – are capable of many unimaginable things!
Panguna is a paradox, a Pandora’s box. Once opened, its contents cannot be easily contained. This is still a huge mineral deposit under the ground. There is no doubt it still holds the potential to largely, perhaps singly, drive Bougainville’s economy in the same as it did pre and post independent PNG, if it is reopened.
For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better. The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed.
Much of the problem is that we tend to start by thinking about how much money mining promises to provide and imagine how that will transform everything for the better without also thinking through otherwise. We tend not to turn our minds to the human feelings, the societal issues, the injustices and the environmental harms that arise when huge projects of this magnitude are given the green light.
Yet the views, human feelings and sensitivities are much more powerful than what money may achieve in trying to reopen Panguna. Just consider how many millions, a figure close to K20m if you include hidden costs, of our good money has been thrown over the years at discussing re-opening Panguna.
A lot of this isn’t necessarily any government’s fault, the landowners’ fault or anybody’s fault.
What some of it is, is this. When a mammoth project like Panguna, particularly an extractive project like mining, is shut down while there are still underlying conflicts and competing interests in a complex land tenure system, it is very difficult to get traction with anybody unless you satisfy everybody.
In a society where land is not owned individually, but its use and tenure is shared, it is impossible to satisfy everybody regardless of how many MOUs, MOAs or similar pledges are signed. Or for that matter, how many reconciliations are done.
There are tried and tested ways to resolve land claims, land feuds and land grabs in traditional societies. These involve methods where the settlement of a dispute doesn’t benefit one group, one party, one clan or family, while disadvantaging others. Any resolution reached cannot have adverse impacts for some and benefits to others if it is to be widely accepted and shared.
Traditional Melanesian society is highly egalitarian.
It does not necessarily fit with a system where land is regarded as a valuable commodity – a resource that can be bought and sold, used and disposed of.
Paying heed to heartfelt feelings is critical when dealing with resource issues, as the following words from a New Zealand journalist’s interview with the late President Joseph Kabui remind us:
“The Panguna mine did a massive damage to the environment of Bougainville. Damage that affected the river system in the immediate vicinityi of the mine and of course all the way down to the sea.
The river that I once swam in as a young boy spearing prawns and fish, eels, whatever, the normal life of the river disappeared right in front of my eyes. It is still dead, it will never come back to what it was before.”
Land is not only the stuff we walk on, are buried under, sow gardens into, go walkabout on and hunt in.
Land is also the rivers and creeks, the shrubs, trees and forests, the insects, birds, lizards and marsupials the same land supports. When people sense a threat or get the notion they might be dispossessed, they will fight and protect their land with their lives if they have to.
No wonder Panguna continues to be a difficult problem to resolve, where good money has been thrown after dubious decisions. It is always better to start well at the front end of a complex equation than to go in, boots and all, make a mess then try to fix up issues from the back end.
Let us hope the Tunuru Agreement, which was openly representative and inclusive of the main custodial clans of traditional land in Paguna and its upper and lower tailings, has done things differently and is given a chance to succeed in ways other agreements did not.
Because if we continue to do the same things over and over again, but expect a different result, our hopes may collapse like the benches around the mine pit.
PHOTO: “Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. I am thankful we have women elected into our Parliament.”
ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama Opening Address at the meeting of the Special Joint Supervisory Body
I acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister, Honorable James Marape, the respective Ministers of Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government, Departmental Heads and members of the Joint Technical Team. I also welcome our development partners and international friends who are present with us this morning.
I also make special mention of Moderator of the Consultations, His Excellency the Honorable Bertie Ahern. Despite his absence at the three joint consultations due to the COVID 19 pandemic his advice and guidance through the United Nations proved invaluable.
I am very thankful also to the United Nations for their continued support on Bougainville and acknowledge their presence here this morning.
Prime Minister, from the outset I must commend you and your government’s unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process through the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
It is a process that you inherited from your predecessors and is more than half a century old dating all the way back to before the dawn of Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975. Nevertheless, you have shown great foresight in understanding its historical context and the current political processes on the independence aspirations of the people of Bougainville.
The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. As the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea who oversaw the successful outcome of the 2019 Referendum, it is only befitting that you are here today to set the final path towards Bougainville’s political settlement that reflects the 97.7% of Bougainvilleans who opted for independence during the referendum.
Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament. Finally, we jointly agreed on the documented record of the three consultations now known as the Era Kone Covenant that we signed on April 5, 2022.
Formally known as the The Era Kone Covenant on finalization of the Bougainville Referendum on Independence the Era Kone Covenant;
Captures the outcomes of the three post referendum joint consultations,
Ensures the outcomes of the joint consultations are tabled in the 11th Parliament in 2023,
Commits both Governments to jointly formulate a report to brief the 11th Parliament on its role to give effect to Section 342 of the National Constitution, in this case a report on the three Bougainville Joint Post Referendum Consultations outcomes.
Provides for the respective executive councils of both Governments to make Constitutional Regulations, prescribing all matters that are necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the Era Kone Covenant in accordance with Section 349 of the National Constitution. The Constitutional Regulations will map out the protocols of the ratification process.
The Constitutional Regulations cannot be amended or repealed by the National Government except with approval of the Bougainville Executive Council in accordance with the Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The Era Kone Covenant has just been endorsed by the National Executive Council and the Bougainville Executive Council. This formally concludes the process of the post referendum consultations between both governments. A report on the outcomes of the Joint Consultations will be furnished by the Joint Technical Team to brief the 11th Parliament in 2023. Henceforth, the Era Kone Covenant will act as a guide to successive Joint Supervisory Body meetings.
The Era Kone Covenant triggers the next important stage in the Bougainville Peace Process and this is the drafting of the Constitutional Regulations. The Constitutional Regulations will chart the course for the ratification process by the National Parliament while taking into account the referendum results and the Post Bougainville Referendum Consultation Report. In hindsight the Constitutional Regulations will enable the Ratification Process to be an all-inclusive democratic process that will ensure considerations are given to the people of Bougainville as well as the state of union of Papua New Guinea.
Article 1 (iii) of the Era Kone Covenant recommends that the Joint Legal Technical Working Group immediately commence drafting the Constitutional Regulations. I am hopeful that this will commence as soon as the conclusion of this special JSB Meeting.
Prime Minister, my technical team have taken the liberty of formulating a working draft of the Constitutional Regulations. This draft can be used as the baseline for the Joint Technical Team in creating and finalizing the joint Constitutional Regulations that will be presented to both our executive governments for endorsement. As a measure of good faith and mutual understanding I would like to propose that our technical teams use my government’s proposed draft to immediately begin work on the Constitutional Regulations.
Prime Minister, I have a moral responsibility to the people of Bougainville and the twenty thousand lives lost in the Bougainville Crisis to ensure political Independence is granted to Bougainville. However, I understand that you also have a responsibility to the people of Papua New Guinea to preserve the sovereignty of the nation. In spite of our differing views on Bougainville’s future political status I am grateful that we share a mutual respect for each other and our own views. I believe this trust and respect is the foundation of the many progress that we have achieved in the last 19 months.
I look forward to our discussions during this Joint Supervisory Body Meeting.
The Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea have endorsed the Era Kone Covenant at a special meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body in Port Moresby today.
The Era Kone Covenant captures the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations that happened in 2021 in Kokopo, Wabag and Port Moresby respectively.
The Era Kone Covenant now marks the conclusion of the joint inter-government consultations on the referendum results, and outlines the mechanism to table the Bougainville Referendum Result in the National Parliament, including the manner in which the National Parliament may ratify the results.
Speaking this morning at the special JSB meeting, ABG President Hon Ishmael Toroama commended the National Government for their unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process.
“The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” President Toroama said.
“Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament.”
Prime Minister James Marape reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the outcomes that were reached in the past three joint consultations and gave his assurance to the people of Bougainville that his government will continue to work within the spirit of peace agreement.
“We’ve established a pathway that we should work towards and we on the national government side, I just want to assure Bougainville that it doesn’t matter who sits in this chair in 3 months’ time, the work for Bougainville has been set and the work we have set will continue on,” he said.
The Era Kone Covenant was signed by the two leaders earlier this month and further required the endorsement of both governments’ respective executive councils in order to be effected.
The Bougainville Executive Council and the National Executive Council have respectively endorsed the Era Kone Covenant which now signals implementation of the next steps.
This will include the immediate commencement on drafting the Constitutional Regulation – which will be the mechanism that outlines how the referendum results will be brought into parliament.
The Era Kone Covenant further binds both governments to ensure that the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations are tabled in the 11th parliament in 2023.
This will also include a report prepared jointly by both parties to brief the 11th parliament on its role in giving effect to s342 of the National Constitution on Referendum Results and Implementation.
It has been one year since my government launched the Bougainville Independence Ready Mission on April 1, 2021.
My Government’s Independence Ready Mission takes on a three-pronged strategic approach that requires preparations for independence to be implemented internally, domestically and internationally.
In commemorating the first year of implementing this program, I wish to remind us all Bougainvilleans that preparing Bougainville for independence is no easy challenge.
It requires government and people to work together and to work harder in this process to actualize our political aspiration for independence.
For us in Bougainville, we have established our Constituency Independence-Ready Committees across all our thirty-three constituencies through the internal prong of the Independence-Ready Mission.
As President, I call on all Bougainvilleans to work collaboratively with these Committees to progress nation-building and state-building activities at the ward levels.
We can only progress through people-participation in development, adopting social responsibility standards, having a change of mindset and cultivating an attitude of self-reliance in our families and communities.
Our political timeline has been set; ‘no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027’ and it requires a whole-of-government approach to our independence-readiness.
As Bougainvilleans, we must embrace this timeline and see it as a matter of urgency to get our house in order.
In working towards independence-readiness, my government will ensure that we have the proper systems in place that promotes democracy, transparency, accountability, peace and good order in our society.
In the same manner, I call on every Bougainvillean man, woman and child to stand firm with your government in this process. Our 97.7% vote for independence proves that we are united in this process and we must not shy away from the challenges that lie ahead of us.
We stood united as one people when we voted for Bougainville’s independence, and we must stand firm through this journey to deliver independence together for Bougainville.
The Chairman of this meeting; the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and members of his delegation; the Ministers and members of the Bougainville delegation.
May I also extend a warm welcome to you all to this meeting of our two governments. We have had two consultation meetings since the declaration of the Referendum Results and this is the 3rd and final consultation on the Referendum result. Any political matters remaining unresolved should now go for moderation and may be even for arbitration at an international arena.
I stand here today as a living testimony to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as a negotiator and as a signatory to the Peace Agreement. When I speak about the Peace agreement, I do not talk theory based on written documents as I have first-hand personal knowledge. In fact, several other leaders on the Bougainville side are also blessed with institutional memory about the Peace Agreement.
I wish to state that as far as my government is concerned, we have taken the “consultation avenue” as far as we can. The timing is now right to address “head on” the long historical issue of independence as expressed in the Referendum Result.
We the leaders of Bougainville hereby declare to Papua New Guinea and the United Nations, the facts on which our long-standing pursuit for political independence is founded.
Noting that the only known cultural and trade links known prior to colonization were with the Solomon Islands and the smaller islands to the east of New Ireland. That the melanin levels of Bougainvillean give unique attributes to the peoples of Bougainville as a distinct group of peoples.
Recalling that the drawing up of geo-political boundaries between the Solomons island and Papua New Guinea including Bougainville was an act of denial by the foreign colonizers without the consent of the Bougainville people.
Affirming that there is a long history of political aspirations for self-determination such as the Muma Rure movement of Siwai, the Napidakoe-Navitu movement of Central Bougainville, and the Hahalis Welfare Society of Buka.
Remembering that as PNG was preparing for Self-Government and Independence, that Bougainville had sent a delegation to the United Nations seeking to be a separate and independent country from Papua and New Guinea.
Noting specifically that on the eve of independence for Papua and New Guinea, that Bougainville announced Universal Declaration of Independence on 1st of September 1975. That the then Chief Minister, Sir Micheal Somare offered “Provincial Government” as a special and unique political arrangement for Bougainville appeasing the separatist sentiments. That the name “North Solomons Provincial Govt” indicated a break from the past political & governance arrangements.
Further considering that the granting of “provincial government system” to the rest of PNG, removed the uniqueness of “the provincial government as a special political arrangement for Bougainville” and “betrayed the Trust” of the Bougainville people.
Noting specifically, that the PNG government failed to renegotiate the Panguna Mining Agreement twice aggravating the concerns of the people. That failure by the PNG Government and Bougainville Copper Limited to genuinely address the concerns regarding the environmental issues, led to the peaceful demonstrations of the landowners.
Remembering that the heavy-handed response by the PNG Government, on innocent civilians including the elderly, women and children, resulted in the escalation of law and order which eventually turned into the full-scale civil war – the Bougainville Crisis. That 20,000 lives were lost from direct combat and from lack of social economic services and that these deliberate actions can be deemed as acts of genocide against a group of people.
Further Specifically Noting that the Government of PNG, using its Constitution and State Institutions, and against international law, and supported by Australia, committed serious crimes against humanity and human rights abuses that can be deemed as acts of genocide in international law. That the states sanctioned measures included the blanket economic embargo and the Sandline mercenaries.
Noting the continued advisory role now being played by Australia Dfat in advising PNG Govt against Bougainville independence.
Further noting that the above history confirms a PNG Govt system that cannot be trusted to stand for and protect its citizens. That against a backdrop of government that cannot be trusted, that independence for Bougainville is seen as the only option to have a political-governance regime that will act in the best interest for and on behalf of the people of Bougainville.
Confirming that the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed as an interim peace and governance package towards a final political settlement with Referendum guaranteed in the PNG Constitution as the mechanism for deciding the political settlement (highest autonomy; independence).
Further confirming also that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) had met its part of the Conditionalities (weapons disposal; good governance) for conducting Referendum.
Witnessing that a free and fair referendum was conducted under an internationally sanctioned body the BRC on which PNG was a critical member. That two options were provided with a clear majority of 97.7% voting for independence. That the people have clearly indicated the preferred political settlement.
Noting that PNG government has again displayed its lack of trustworthiness by not fulfilling its obligations in fully funding the Constitutionally guaranteed restoration and development grant (K620m outstanding)
Affirming that various PNG Governments had over the years not acted in the best interest of Bougainville and at times actually betrayed the people of Bougainville. And that the only recourse left for the peoples of Bougainville is to demand for the Government of PNG to accord independence as desired by the 97.7 % vote for Independence.
Declaring that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” as expressed through the Referendum vote. That the indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.
By virture of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
I, as the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, now call upon the PNG Government to make a clear declaration to this Joint Consultation and to the people of Bougainville, its’ plans for giving independence to Bougainville, within the time frame set in the Wabag roadmap.
Finally, exactly 20 years ago to the day, all of us here today those sitting across the table, as representatives of our people, and those of our friends from the international community, and those who are here to represent the United Nations, including yourself Mr Chairman, exactly 20 years ago, we concluded perhaps one of the most successful peace agreements, in modern times.
It brought our people together, it brought Bougainville together, it brought Papua New Guinean together, and it brought our friends in the international community closer to us, so that we may join hands and work out a long-lasting solution to that conflict.
We have dedicated ourselves to this process, where we would finally resolve, through a Referendum the future of Bougainville in the greater PNG union that was formed in 1975.
But while we the living have made the choice for independence; the future has been earned by those who have perished from the face of the earth in this conflict.
Today Mr Chairman, I stand here to say only one thing: My friend Hon James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, I appeal to you, it is now time to let my people go!
Honorable Ishmael Toroama, MHR
Joint Statement at the conclusion of the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting
The governments of PNG and Bougainville today concluded the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Port Moresby.
Prime Minister James Marape and President Ishmael Toroama affirmed to work within the spirit and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The two leaders further reaffirmed their commitment to the jointly agreed timeframe that has been set to find a lasting solution for Bougainville.
Among key agreements reached today, the leaders tabled the Joint Statement that was agreed to in the Joint Consultations meeting yesterday.
The leaders endorsed the Joint Consultations Statement and directed that both governments’ technical teams will work together to ensure its effective implementation as per the Wabag Roadmap.
Other key agendas discussed in the meeting today include the implementation of the Sharp Agreement and other outstanding financial matters.
The two leaders also noted the recurring agendas that have remain unresolved for a number of years such as the fisheries, BCL shares and the Restoration and Development Grant, and directed the technical teams to ensure that these matters are resolved immediately at the administrative level.
The leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body will be held in March 2022 in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Following the meeting, the two leaders jointly launched the Bougainville Socio-Economic Baseline Survey Report.
The Baseline Survey Report is an activity led jointly by the ABG and National Department of Commerce, and provides the government with complete data on Bougainville’s current socio-economic situation, and proposes policy interventions for the government to implement going forward.
Today we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) that was signed between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea on August 30, 2001.
The Bougainville Peace Agreement formally ended the Bougainville Crisis and signified the cessation of hostilities between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea.
It closed one of the darkest chapters of PNG and Bougainville’s history. The BPA set the foundation for peace and opened the way for Bougainville to pursue our aspirations on self-determination.
In the last twenty years our people, our leaders and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have shown great resilience in maintaining our commitment to the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Our endeavor to attain political independence for Bougainville has always been within the parameters of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Our commitment has given credibility to the process espoused by the BPA by successfully implementing the requirements of the BPA’s three main pillars:
2. Weapons Disposal
We have achieved Autonomy, we have achieved Weapons Disposal and we have successfully held a Referendum with an overwhelming 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans who have opted for an Independent Sovereign State of Bougainville.
The theme for the 20th Anniversary of the BPA “Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as the Cornerstone of our Independence Mission” is a testament to these achievements.
It also a declaration by our government and our people of our resolve and the journey we have already begun.
We have enjoyed twenty years of peace under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the autonomous arrangements that created the ABG.
The next five years are going to be critical as the ABG has declared its position to the National Government and we have set a timeline (2025 – 2027) for Bougainville’s final political settlement.
I must thank the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and the National Government for their continued commitment on the implementation of the BPA, we have come this far in the spirit of friendship and equal partnership.
However, there are outstanding issues such as intergovernmental finance arrangements, drawdown of powers and the joint autonomy review.
In light of this achievable challenges I recognize the Joint Supervisory Body as the appropriate medium to discuss these issues.
In the face of adversity, we have shown courage by defending our land and our people against an oppressive regime and by the same spirit we have proved our valiance to accept peace. Our journey is not yet over, the next chapter in our history requires our people to unite and to continue to work hard to support our government.
History has taught us that peace by peaceful means has been the only answer to Bougainville’s progress. Hence we must embrace the values and principles that promote peace not only for our time but a peace for all time to come on Bougainville.
As a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and moreover as President of Bougainville I am proud of the progress we have made despite the many challenges that came our way.
I pay tribute to Bougainville’s past and present leadership for their immense contribution to making Bougainville realize its ultimate political future and that is independence.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
Happy 20th Bougainville Peace Agreement Anniversary Celebrations to you all.
Part 1 of 2 The ABG President and his delegation have arrived back in Bougainville to a first-of-its kind welcome by the people following the successful outcome of the joint government meetings in Wabag, Enga Province.
President Hon. Ishmael Toroama and his delegation were led in procession by a traditional cultural group from the Ieta Village in Buka, to the Bel Isi Park where the government leaders provided detailed updates on the outcomes of the Joint Inter-Government Consultations and the Joint Supervisory Body meetings that took place in Wabag on Tuesday this week.
President Toroama when speaking on the outcomes of the joint meetings reassured the people that his government’s key agenda is to deliver independence for Bougainville.
At the conclusion of the Joint Government Consultations, the PNG Prime Minister and ABG President had agreed that a political settlement will be determined by both governments no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027.
The leaders further agreed that a joint roadmap that contains key activities will be used to guide both governments to implement key activities between now and 2027.
Key activities in this jointly agreed roadmap include implementing the SHARP Agreement, amending the National Constitution and preparation for the drafting of the Bougainville Independence Constitution, among others.
President Toroama called on the people to support the government saying that it is not only the government’s responsibility, but all individual Bougainvillean’s responsibility to drive their efforts towards preparing Bougainville for independence.
Part 2 : People of Bougainville have chosen the road to independence and it is Bougainville’s task as leaders and members to bring our journey on independence to our doorstep.
This is the challenge President Honorable Ishmael Toroama issued when addressing the Bougainville Leader’s Consultation Forum .
“We have rejected autonomy that is why our government is pursuing this and I want to thank all the leaders present here – Bougainville Independence Mission Advisors, ABG Ministers and Members, administration and the prayers of the people of Bougainville for achieving much from the second consultation,” he said.
President Toroama said the team had achieved much during the recent trip because the Prime Minister had acknowledged Bougainville on its journey through the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).
He thanked the Prime Minister for the positive achievement in the joint consultation meeting and the outcome of the statement setting 2027 as a target year for Bougainville; however, he also reiterated that the challenge was on all leaders of Bougainville to make sure there was a good progress before 2025 for a smooth transition.
President Toroama said the outcome of the statement is a joint creation by the ABG and PNG, however, greater responsibility was upon the leaders.
“All leaders present here today, you have that duty and responsibility to make sure before 2025, we make a good progress. If we can make a good progress from now till 2025, then we will walk right into the date we have set,” he said.
According to the President the joint statement has put a burden on Bougainville and the pressure is on Bougainville to actualize this statement, thus he called on the department heads, workforce in the public service and the people of Bougainville to work together to actualize this or Bougainville will miss the boat on the independence ready mission.
“Pressure is now on us and I want to appeal to the people of Bougainville to make independence ready mission our priority,” he said.
The Bougainville Leaders Consultation Forum was held at Kuri Resort and is the second forum this year organized by the Department of Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation.
This forum is used to gather views, ideas and comments from Bougainville leaders within the government and across all sectors of the community on the way forward for Bougainville’s political journey towards independence.
The forum today was to inform the leaders of the outcome of the recent joint consultation meeting in Enga and discuss and plan for the next consultation and way forward.
The meeting was chaired by the Attorney General and Minister for Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation Hon Ezekiel Massat, and attended by the Speaker of Parliament Hon Simon Pentanu, Ministers and Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives and leaders from all sectors of the community, including women, youth, ex-combatants, churches and prominent leaders.
“ Any form of self-determination will require some new institutions for Bougainville and some changes to existing ones, all of which will need a foundation in Bougainville’s Constitution. Exactly what changes are made, how they are made, and the future relationship between the Constitutions of Bougainville and PNG will depend in part on the form of self-determination.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, with no formal relationship with PNG other than as a close neighbour, this would be reflected in the terms of the Constitution, the range of matters for which it provides, and the mechanisms that it establishes for political and legal accountability.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination in a form of free association with PNG, this would be likely reflected in the Constitutions of both PNG and Bougainville, although the Constitutions need not otherwise be dependent on each other.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination on a basis that left it formally within PNG, significant constitutional changes still would be needed. In these circumstances, however, there would be a relationship of some kind between the two Constitutions, although it may not be the same as exists at present.
On any of these scenarios for constitutional change, there is a further question for decision about whether Bougainville should amend the existing Constitution or make a new one. In principle, either is possible and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Abridged from a National Research Institute research report ( Reseach Report 8: Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville) under its Referendum Research Project. This was released along with Research Report 9: Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government.
What needs to be done on Bougainville in the wake of the 2019 referendum.
By ANNA DZIEDZIC and CHERYL SAUNDERS
THERE will be four key questions before decision-makers in the post-referendum consultations. While the primary focus of the consultations will be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, the other questions are necessarily linked to this relationship.
The questions are identified separately below, to ensure that each is actively considered, in the interests of workable and lasting outcomes.
The questions are:
What should be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, following the referendum?
What changes are necessary to achieve that relationship, in both PNG and Bougainville, in terms of governing authority and the way in which authority is exercised?
How should these changes be made, to ensure that they work as effectively as possible from the standpoint of both Bougainville and PNG?
Over what time frame should change occur and in what order of priority?
The future relationship between Bougainville and PNG might take different forms, with multiple different features, all of which are consistent with self-determination.
For the purposes of this report, as an aid to understanding the options, the possibilities are grouped into three broad categories.
We note, however, that there may be variations within each.
These categories are: Self-determination for Bougainville outside PNG, as a formally sovereign state; Self-determination outside PNG, but in a form of free association with it; Self-determination in a form that leaves Bougainville formally part of PNG.
Three influential factors
There are at least three contextual factors that are relevant to the form and outcomes of the consultations.
One is the nature of the existing relationship between PNG and Bougainville. These two territories have been connected for the purposes of governance for over 100 years. The legacies of this connection include both long collaboration and significant conflict (Regan & Griffin, 2015).
Both legacies are evident in the considerable achievements of the BPA, which brought a bitter conflict to a close in a way that has proved both manageable and lasting. Bougainville’s peace process provides a model from which others might learn.
Nevertheless, from the standpoint of the consultations, these legacies tend to pull in opposite directions. Complicating resolution further, a century of governance of PNG and Bougainville as a single entity also has encouraged the intermixture of peoples and the interdependence of economies.
Self-determination for Bougainville will require these to be disentangled to some degree, whatever form it takes. On the other hand, geography, shared history and the realities of globalisation suggest that a close relationship of some kind will continue.
A second contextual factor that demands consideration is Bougainville’s capability, now and into the future. Capability should be understood for this purpose as a combination of the knowledge, skills and integrity needed to develop policies, manage programs and run institutions in ways that work for the people of Bougainville and for the polity as a whole. Capability, including ways in which it might be developed, is relevant to all the key questions for decision in the course of the consultations.
Capability is an issue that arises when any political community acquires major new responsibilities for which it has final authority.
In one sense, Bougainville has an advantage in this regard over many other newly empowered political communities, thanks to the experience of nearly two decades of autonomy since the signing of the BPA. Capability is nevertheless a major issue for Bougainville, in ways that are documented in a range of relatively recent reports and reviews (Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2018; Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2013; McKenna, 2019; Nisira, 2017; Peake, 2019).
Bougainville and PNG have distinctive features and a distinctive history that must guide both the decisions that are made in the course of the consultations and the ways in which they are put into effect.
Properly used, however, the experiences of other countries can be a valuable source from which insights for the consultations between governments can be drawn.
The companion report, Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government (Chand et al., 2020), identifies 57 states that, like Bougainville, have small island territories, in order to examine their relevance as comparators for the purposes of Bougainville’s own economic and fiscal futures.
From this range, the report ultimately identifies 18 such states that are broadly comparable to Bougainville in terms of size and economic opportunity (Chand et al., 2020).This section of this report identifies three ways in particular in which comparative experience might be useful for the institutional and related issues covered by this report.First, the experiences of other countries may provide useful insight into each of the broad options for the relationship between Bougainville and PNG.
Some examples are given below.
Timor Leste and South Sudan are both states that have separated from larger states in relatively recent times and have achieved self-determination as independent states in their own right.44 Timor Leste became an independent state in 2002 and South Sudan in 2011.
Cook Islands, Niue, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau are examples of states that are not part of a larger state but operate in ‘free association’ with one.5• Greenland is formally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it enjoys self-government on a basis that includes a right to secede and so offers an example of self-determination while formally remaining part of a larger state (Ackrén, 2017).
The experiences of these and other states show how each of the broad options for self-determination works, as a basis for determining their suitability for Bougainville.
Second, polities that are broadly similar to Bougainville in terms of geographic and population size, stage of development, and perhaps culture, offer insights into such matters as the range of institutions that Bougainville might need; the challenges of operating them; and the extent to which governance can be enhanced by local cultural practice.
A subset of the states identified in the report Increasing Revenues (Chand et al., 2021) is most likely to be relevant for these purposes. States that might offer particular insights into the design and operation of institutions in Bougainville include Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.
While each of these polities is different to Bougainville in many respects, all are island states, all are relatively small in global terms, and all are in the same region of the world, with similar neighbours, some shared historical experiences, significant distinctive cultures and broadly similar aspirations.
Third, comparative experience can be useful also to demonstrate how smaller states, with limited resources, share institutions of various kinds, including by using institutions of others. Examples that will be given in the course of this report include currency, courts and diplomatic representation.
There is no shortage of public institutions that might be organised in this way, however, in the short term or even indefinitely. These practices are familiar in smaller states throughout the world, but the same range of Pacific states might be most useful comparators for Bougainville’s purposes.
It is not practicable in this report to canvass comparative experiences in any depth. Once the consultations get underway and the direction of the consultations becomes clear, more specific questions can be formulated. There may be value in organising a forum of representatives of selected states to provide detailed information on institutions and their operation in practice.
Creating a polity to realise self-determination requires an effective political community, in addition to the institutions and other trappings of statehood (Bogdandy et al., 2005). An effective political community requires cohesion between peoples, trust in public institutions and a shared commitment to the polity.
In an effective political community, disagreement is resolved through processes provided by or under the auspices of the state, potentially including customary law and practice. Members of a political community will not always be pleased by an election outcome, a new law or policy, or a decision of a court or other arbiter. Where a political community is working well, however, people accept such outcomes as part of a system to which they belong and on which they are prepared to rely, even while working to change decisions for the future. Bougainville already has a political community; however, greater demands will be placed on it by self-determination as Bougainville becomes increasingly self-reliant.
Although institutions based on western constitutional models have been established, customary institutions, such as councils of elders and chiefs, customary law, and customary methods of decision making and dispute resolution are recognised in Bougainville’s constitution and laws. Customary institutions have a high degree of legitimacy and operate alongside state institutions in what has been described as an example of successful ‘hybrid’ state building (Boege et al., 2008).
Customary institutions and processes have played a crucial role during the period of autonomy under the BPA. Bougainville can continue to draw on these institutions to develop a political community that suits its new circumstances and needs.
But there are challenges in building political community in Bougainville as well. Regionalism and factionalism are as present in Bougainville as elsewhere (Bougainville News, 2019).
The animosities of the civil war are not entirely overcome and continue to affect the cohesion of local communities (Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Peace and Conciliation Resources, 2019).
Divisions could be exacerbated by future initiatives including, most obviously, reopening the Panguna mine. The struggle for self-determination has been a catalyst for unity of purpose within Bougainville that could be weakened once that struggle is over. Governance in Bougainville in conditions of self-determination is certain to be difficult, has the potential to give rise to dissatisfaction among sections of the people, and could undermine the solidarity on which political community depends.
Citizenship and passports
Any political community has rules or practices that identify its members. At present, Bougainville’s Constitution recognises the legal status of a ‘Bougainvillean’. Section 7 of the Constitution sets out the way in which Bougainvillean status is acquired. Section 8 identifies key rights held by Bougainvilleans to own customary land and to stand for election. Section 9 sets out the obligations of a Bougainvillean.
If Bougainville were to become a polity outside PNG, it would be necessary to create a status of Bougainville citizen and to provide for a system of Bougainville passports. By contrast, if Bougainville were to achieve a form of self-determination in free association with PNG, it could have its own citizenship and issue its own passports, but it need not do so.
So, for example, Niue, which has a form of free association with New Zealand, relies on New Zealand citizenship and accepts that its people use New Zealand passports, as convenient but not necessary attributes of free association (Angelo, 2009).
Ideas about membership and belonging are not exclusive to independent countries, however.
They also apply in distinct political communities within countries.
Some of these use the terminology of ‘citizenship’ to describe the status of belonging. In these cases, people may have multiple citizenships within the same country, at different levels of government, each of which is meaningful and valued in its own way.
A similar idea of multiple citizenships within the same polity can be found in some supra-national arrangements. For example, someone who lives in France may be a citizen of both France and the European Union.
It follows that even if Bougainville were to achieve self-determination in a form that meant it formally remained part of PNG, a status of Bougainville citizen could be created; although, in this case, passports would continue to be issued by PNG.
If a new status of citizen of Bougainville were created, it would be necessary to decide who is entitled to it. A broadly similar issue was faced in many Pacific states as they obtained independence from colonial rule.
One possibility would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the previous status of belonging, as a ‘Bougainvillean’. With this approach, anyone who meets the definition of ‘Bougainvillean’ in the current constitution could automatically become a citizen of Bougainville on a specified date.
The existing criteria would prescribe the bases on which citizenship of Bougainville might be acquired in the future. If this approach were adopted, consideration should be given to whether place of birth or other connection with the territory of Bougainville should be added to the criteria for Bougainville citizenship.
Under the current provisions, the requirement for Bougainvilleans to be citizens of PNG before exercising political rights ensures a territorial connection, which would be lost if the two citizenships are separated from each other. An alternative would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the standard criteria of place of birth and descent that are used in a variety of combinations in most countries in the world. This approach was taken by PNG on independence in 1975.
PNG conferred automatic citizenship at the date of independence on any person born in PNG who had two grandparents born in PNG or in specified neighbouring islands.
Under current PNG law, a person acquires PNG citizenship if he or she is born in PNG and has at least one parent who is a PNG citizen; is born outside of PNG but has at least one citizen parent and is registered; or has had some connection to the people and territory of PNG before naturalisation.8 Bougainville could develop citizenship requirements of its own, broadly along these lines, possibly accepting that birth in PNG and the ‘adjacent area’ as well as in Bougainville is acceptable for the purpose.
With either approach, there are likely to be cases where a person’s citizenship status is unclear. To accommodate these cases, other states in the Pacific also have set out a process for certain classes of people to register or to apply for citizenship (Dziedzic, 2020). Flexibility of some kind would be useful for prescribing the citizenship requirements for Bougainville.
Every polity uses symbols to reinforce its sense of political community and for use on official occasions. Symbols usually reflect the polity’s sense of its own identity, in terms of its people and their culture, its territory, its history and its place in the world. Bougainville already has a distinctive identity, which is the product of its story so far.
A move to self-determination, whatever form it takes, will change Bougainville’s identity in some ways while leaving it unaltered in others.
There is no exhaustive list of the symbols that a polity may have for these purposes. Bougainville already has many of the usual symbols: a flag, emblem, motto and anthem. Bougainville also celebrates commemorative days, including Autonomous Bougainville Government Foundation Day and Peace Agreement Commemoration Day.
In connection with a move to self-determination, consideration might be given to whether these symbols adequately reflect the identity that Bougainville wishes to project, internally and externally. The answer could depend on the chosen form of self-determination. For example, the BPA and PNG Constitution presently require that official markings of the Bougainville Police and Bougainville Correctional Service include the national PNG emblem.
Changes in the relationship between PNG and Bougainville in consequence of self-determination may affect this practice and certainly would do so if Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, whether as an independent state or in a form of free association.
Self-determination may have other implications for Bougainville’s identity as well, which could be reflected in the symbols used by Bougainville and the circumstances in which they are used.
Self-determination may ultimately lead to the creation of new symbols. A Bougainville system of honours or awards is a possible example.
In addition, self-determination may bring other changes to Bougainville that take on a symbolic character. To take one example: currency, which is considered further below in Part 5.2, can have a symbolic as well as practical function. As Part 5.2 explains, countries do not need to have their own currency; this is a choice for each to make. Some countries with their own currency also use it as a symbol.
Whatever the outcome of the consultations between the two governments, some changes to the Constitution of Bougainville are needed. The existing Constitution was made within parameters agreed in the BPA and reflected in the Constitution of PNG. It is expressly transitional, bridging the period of autonomy following the BPA and a decision on Bougainville’s future political status.
Both the Constitution itself and the process of making or changing it are relevant to self-determination for Bougainville.
A new or renewed constitution would mark the beginning of a new collective identity for Bougainville, symbolising the unity of the people and signifying Bougainville’s new status to the rest of the world (Haysom, 2005).
The Constitution also has practical significance for institution building, providing the basic framework for institutions of government and setting out their powers and functions.