” As we celebrate Independence Day for 2019, I want to reflect on the upcoming referendum and the future political path of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
As a Bougainvillean and a Papua New Guinean, I am less concerned about Greater Autonomy, Independence (or the ‘Third Choice’ whatever it might be). The simple fact is that two options are already guaranteed, and it is now for the people to make their choice.
My real concern is more about our insouciance and disregard for good governance that we must sternly guard against, whatever the political outcome of referendum will be. For, good governance is one of the major considerations that must be ticked off or crossed when it comes to ratification of the vote.
Here I say, take heed the soothsayers say, or forever hold your breath.”
Hon. Simon Pentanu MHR GCL : Speaker Bougainville House of Representatives
Picture Above : Prime Minister, JAMES MARAPE and ABG President, DR. JOHN MOMIS signed the joint resolution September 12 at the Presidential villa Buka in front of journalists and the Ministers and members from both the ABG and the National Government. See Part 2 for full details or Download Document Here
Whatever the choice is, and we know that Independence is the greater expectation of most Bougainvilleans, we have to make it work. This is the essence of my message today. Let us not tire of talking about good governance, honest and transparent leadership, common sense, and not being above or beyond reproach. Let us not forget the foundation stones and the building blocks of good government, regardless of what form that Government takes.
Adherence to good governance must be the message delivered in unison by the people to their representatives in the House of Representatives and to Leaders in Government. All Leaders, whether at the national, provincial or community government level, must be held to account.
Without regard for good governance the writing is on the wall. We know this from the countless examples of developing countries that have been turned into pariah states by their own Leaders in power.
Let us avoid the pitfalls of bad governance by making a conscious and conscientious choice for good governance without making compromises, taking short cuts or looking for quick fixes at the leadership level.
Nothing is more certain than the dire consequences that befall a people whose leaders turn a blind eye, a deaf ear and who play mute to the evils of corruption.
Conversely, nothing is more certain than the successes and gross national happiness and contentment that follows when elected leaders live up to the oaths and loyalties they swear by and the responsibilities they promise to live up to in office, leading the people from the front.
We can grab and take the opportunities to heart or we can squat and squander them. It is my sincere hope this Independence Day, that our leaders take the former rather than the latter path.
Hon. Simon Pentanu MHR GCL
Bougainville House of Representatives
Part 2 Editors note
Congratulations to Simon Pentanu, who has been named on the 2019 Independence Day Anniversary Honours List. Simon Pentanu
Mr. Pentanu will be awarded the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) Conerred with the title of “Chief” for distinguished public service in the senior roles of Clerk of the National Parliament, Chief Ombudsman, and currently as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Prime Minister, JAMES MARAPE and ABG President, DR. JOHN MOMIS signed the joint resolution in the afternoon at the Presidential villa in front of journalists and the Ministers and members from both the ABG and the National Government.
The first Agenda was concerning the request by the BRC to extend the Referendum date by six weeks from October 12th Polling to November 23rd Polling.
The BRC had sought for additional time for the referendum roll to be updated so that the outcome is credible and has integrity.
Agenda two was on weapons disposal, after the joint Weapons disposal secretariat briefed the JSB on the progress of the Me’ekamui Weapons disposal program, the JSB resolved and noted that the weapons disposal work must continue, and also touched on the National Reconciliation ceremony that must be held between the National Government and the ABG and also between the veterans.
Agenda three was on the Post Referendum Transition of which many discussions have been made and also looking at the legal issues going forward.
The JSB noted the progress made so far and resolved for the establishment of a Joint Ministerial Task Force on Post Referendum.
Approved for the Post Referendum Task Force to identify facilitators/moderators to assist in the Post referendum negotiation period.
And there must be one national moderator and one external moderator.
The fourth Agenda looked at the Restoration and Development Grants in which both governments have been at loggerheads over the calculations for the RDG.
The JSB resolved to accept the calculations made by an independent expert engaged by the UNDP and that officers work on these calculations and settle those outstanding through the RDG and SIF programs.
The JSB also resolved to approve a new arrangement for the National Government to provide 100 Million annually to the ABG for the next ten years starting next year.
The BPA declares that in the Constitution of the Papua New Guinea National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB) is guaranteed a referendum on Bougainville’s political future to be held amongst Bougainvilleans 10-15 years after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
ABG was established in 2005 and therefore, according to the Constitution, a referendum can be held between the years 2015 and 2020. Both governments will agree upon the official date of the referendum.
4.With a projected vote on independence from Papua New Guinea just three months away, suddenly Bougainville is the centre of a lot of activity.
A crowd of people in Bougainville watching the handover of the agreed definitions for the two questions for the Independence Referendum. The first Greater Autonomy for Bougainville and the other full Independence from Papua New Guinea. Photo: Autonomous Bougainville Government
The vote, which is scheduled to start on 12 October, has already been moved once from 15 June.
Now there is a call for it to be delayed further, with the Bougainville Referendum Commission, which is in charge of preparing the region for the vote, saying more time is needed to ensure the integrity of the electoral roll.
A six-week extension was mentioned.
But the newly appointed PNG Minister of Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, said the BRC needed to make a formal request if it wanted to delay the referendum.
“If the BRC thinks they need a little more time because of the credibility issue on the referendum roll then the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) will be the body that will make the final decision. It is not the national government or the ABG, it is a JSB decision.
“If they say no then that’s it. If they agree then we will inform our people and the basis will be the credibility of the common roll,” he said.
That JSB meeting is set to be held in south Bougainville, in Buin.
The PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, then confirmed the National Executive Council, the cabinet, will hold its meeting there at the same time.
Sir Puka, who has significantly lifted the tempo on Bougainville since coming into the role just weeks ago, said it is vital for all of PNG’s leaders to show their commitment to the referendum process.
Two upcoming reconciliations are to be held on Bougainville at the same time before the referendum.
Sir Puka said a national reconciliation and another involving former combatants were postponed last month because of the PNG government’s change of leadership.
“Our commitment is to never again bring the military ever again onto the island – that’s our commitment.”
Sir Puka said these events will include commitments to dispose of weapons.
He said he came back from a visit to Bougainville two weeks ago with an “enormous level of comfort” that the former militant groups had given their commitment to the peace process.
Sir Puka said there are now teams on the ground preparing for the events at a date that is yet to be announced but expected to be the end of the month.
He said he embraced the reconciliations because of their importance to Melanesian culture and the commitment that the final outcome will be jointly negotiated.
“So as part of that is to guarantee the security of the process and also reconcile and rebuild the relationship amongst all of us – our soldiers on this side and ex-combatants on the other side because that will then remove this cloud of suspicion.”
Meanwhile, at discussions this week a British political scientist with experience in referenda said if Bougainville chooses independence from PNG it’s likely to be some years before it is implemented.
Coventry University’s Matt Qvortrup was in Port Moresby to speak to lawmakers about possible scenarios after the referendum.
He said if there is a clear vote for independence it’s still important that there is what he calls a ‘a just and fair divorce settlement’ – not just one party walking away.
Professor Qvortrup said he’d seen other referenda results implemented in a matter of months, for instance in Czechoslovakia and Ukraine, which said were examples of countries that broke up quickly.
“The more successful ones have taken a little bit longer, so I think the process of independence will probably take, my estimate compared to other cases would probably be up to five years, or even more,” he said.
Also, this week a survey of more than 1,000 Bougainvilleans found people still need to know more about the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the referendum.
One of the key findings of the second Bougainville Audience Study is the need for continuous awareness in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.
The ABG’s communications director, Adriana Schmidt, said the report provided a clear picture of the information needs of Bougainvilleans going into the vote.
She said people want to know more about what the two options – greater autonomy and independence – mean in practical terms, and to understand what happens after the vote.
5 : THE Pacific island of Bougainville is moving a step closer to potential independence from Papua New Guinea as preparations begin for a long-promised referendum later this year.
Whether it can survive as a stand-alone nation is a key question for its 250,000 inhabitants, and for other separatist movements in the Pacific.
The future course of the island could ripple across the region, as the question of Bougainville’s independence will touch on a complicated mixture of business concerns, environmental worries and geopolitical interests stretching from Australia and New Zealand to China, Japan and the United States.
It’s an outsized international role for Bougainville, which lies 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the Papua New Guinea mainland. The roots of the referendum stem from a bitter inter-clan and separatist conflict that ran from 1988 to 1997, fighting that claimed between 10,000 and 20,000 lives through a combination of violence, disease, poverty and dislocation.
A truce brokered and maintained by regional neighbors that included Australia, New Zealand and Fiji helped restore order, and a comprehensive peace agreement was signed between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville in 2001. The island has had its own autonomous government since 2005.
Bougainville’s people are expected to vote decisively for independence in the Oct. 17 referendum, according to Jonathan Pryke, Pacific Islands program director at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based policy think tank. The vote is not binding and any move toward independence will require agreement from the central government of Papua New Guinea, commonly referred to as PNG.
Most people hope the two sides can find a “Melanesian solution” that will deliver a workable form of autonomy for Bougainville, says Pryke, using the term that describes the region of the South Pacific that includes PNG, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and other island nations and territories.
James Marape, who took over as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister in late May, said on June 14 he would prefer Bougainville to remain part of a unified nation, but would listen to the people’s voice and then consult over future options.
Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Sydney, says the desire for independence in Bougainville remains strong, but from a regional perspective it will be best if the Bougainville people decided to stay in Papua New Guinea. “We don’t need another microstate emerging in the Pacific.”
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who visited Bougainville on June 19 with PNG’s new minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, said Australia will work to ensure the integrity of the referendum and will not pass judgment on the result. Australia is by far the biggest aid donor in the Pacific region, giving $6.5 billion between 2011 and 2017, according to research last year by the Lowy Institute. Most of Australia’s aid goes to Papua New Guinea.
Scars Remain From a Civil War
The Bougainville conflict, in which rival clans on the island fought among themselves and with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, evolved from multiple issues, including land rights, customary ownership, “outsider” interference and migration, mineral resource exploitation, and perceived inequities and environmental damage associated with the rich Panguna copper mine.
Under the terms of the 2001 peace agreement, a vote on independence within 20 years was promised.
A reconciliation ceremony will be held on July 2 between the central PNG government, the national defence force, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.
Deep scars remain from the conflict, both physical and emotional. Much of the island’s public infrastructure remains in poor shape, educational opportunities are limited, and corruption is pervasive. Clan rivalry and suspicion persists, particularly in regard to land rights and resource development.
Since Panguna closed in May 1989, Bougainville’s people have led a life built around agriculture and fishing. The cocoa and copra industries ravaged by the war have been re-established, there is small-scale gold mining, and potential for hydroelectric power and a revived forestry industry. For now, a lack of accommodation inhibits tourism.
Copper Mine Underscores Doubts over Bougainville’s Economic Viability
Almost 40 years ago, Bougainville’s Panguna mine was the biggest contributor to Papua New Guinea’s export income and the largest open-cut in the world. But the mine, operated by BCL, a subsidiary of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (now Rio Tinto Ltd.), became a focal point for conflict over pollution, migrant workers, resource ownership and revenue sharing, and has been dormant since 1989.
Apart from any foreign aid it may receive, Bougainville’s future prosperity may well depend on whether it can restart the mine, which contains copper and gold worth an estimated $50 billion. But customary ownership claims – land used for generations by local communities without the need for legal title – remain unresolved and at least three mining groups are in contention, which means an early restart is unlikely. Jennings cautions against investing too much hope in Panguna, with remediation costs after 30 years of disuse likely to be high.
Likewise, Luke Fletcher, executive director of the Sydney-based Jubilee Australia Research Centre, which studies the social and environmental impacts of resources projects on Pacific communities, says reopening Panguna would be a long, expensive and difficult proposition. He says the challenge for any mine operator would be developing a project that is environmentally safe, yet still deliver an acceptable return to shareholders and to the government.
Bougainville’s leader, President John Momis, believes that large-scale mining offers the best chance for income generation and is keen both to revive Panguna and encourage other projects. That would require outside investment, which was a factor contributing to the outbreak of violence in the late 1980s. The local community perceived that it was not getting its fair share of Panguna’s wealth.
Rio Tinto gave up its share in BCL in 2016, and ownership now rests with the government of PNG and the Bougainville government, each with 36.4%. Independent shareholders own the remaining 27.2%.
At least two other groups are vying to operate Panguna. Sir Mel Togolo, the BCL chairman, told the company’s annual general meeting on May 2 that continued uncertainty about Panguna’s tenure remains a big challenge. “We will need to work cooperatively with all stakeholders to achieve our objective of bringing the Panguna mine back into production,” he said.
Regional, International Eyes on October Referendum
With doubts persisting about Bougainville’s economic viability if it cuts ties with the central government, the referendum outcome will be closely watched by other PNG provinces pushing for greater autonomy, such as East New Britain, New Ireland and Enga.
Across the region, some parts of neighboring Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are agitating for their own separate identities. In the nearby French overseas territory of New Caledonia, voters rejected independence from France by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin in November 2018. European settlers were heavily in favor of staying part of France, while indigenous Kanak people overwhelmingly voted for independence.
At the international level, Australia will be keen to ensure that whatever the outcome of the Bougainville referendum, stability is maintained in Papua New Guinea, if only to counter China’s growing interest in offering aid and economic benefits as it builds a Pacific presence.
Along with Japan, New Zealand and the U.S., Australia has committed to a 10-year $1.7 billion electrification project in Papua New Guinea. Australia and the U.S. have agreed to help Papua New Guinea redevelop its Manus Island naval base, which sits 350 kilometers north of the mainland and commands key trade routes into the Pacific.
Jennings says Australia would be likely to give aid to an independent Bougainville to try to keep China at bay. “China is everywhere. Its destructive connections co-opt leaderships in a way that doesn’t work out well for people.”
From a strategic perspective, Jennings says it would be best if Melanesia looked to Australia as its main partner on matters of security.
While China gives most of its aid to PNG and Fiji, the region’s two biggest economies, Jubilee’s Fletcher says China giving aid to an independent Bougainville was “feasible.”
Geoff Hiscock is a Sydney-based journalist with a focus on international business
“I don’t think the exercise of a democratic process in one of our nearest neighbours would be described as a huge problem for Australia.
The referendum is part of a peace agreement that has been under way for some time.
The important things that Australia is focused on is not forming a view one way or the other on the outcome of a referendum in another country, but importantly supporting that wherever we can to ensure a credible, and a peaceful and an inclusive process.”
Australia will work to ensure the integrity of the Bougainville referendum later this year, and won’t cast judgment on the result, Foreign Minister Marise Payne says.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne this week visited Bougainville for a few hours amid fears an upcoming independence vote there could undermine regional stability and provide an opening for China to establish a strategic foothold in what could become the Pacific’s newest nation state.
The visit was the first by an Australian minister since a bungled 2015 attempt to open an Australian consulate led the PNG government to slap a ban on Australian officials travelling to the autonomous region.
Papua New Guinea, which fought a decade-long civil war with Bougainville rebels ending in the late 90s, is trying to convince
PNG Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, said Bougainville’s people needed to understand what “cutting the umbilical cord from Papua New Guinea” would mean.
“The revenue for Bougainville is only 20 million kina ($8.6m) per year,” Sir Puka said.
“They will need, according to international studies, at least 900 million kina ($390m) a year to rebuild Bougainville as an independent state.” He said independence would also mean “Papua New Guinea will not be able to be politically responsible for an independent Bougainville state”.
Bougainville’s people will vote on October 17 to either become an independent state or to have greater autonomy within PNG.
There is a widespread expectation that Bougainvilleans will vote in favour of independence in a result that would then have to be ratified by the PNG parliament, where it could face opposition from MPs who fear other provinces could follow.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape has said PNG was “stronger with Bougainville than without” but it would listen to the people of Bougainville “and then consult on options for the future”.
Lowy Institute Pacific program director Jonathan Pryke said the referendum outcome would have strategic implications “thanks to the active presence of China throughout PNG and the broader Pacific”. “Given the new strategic landscape, and not to mention the huge reserves left in Panguna (copper) mine, I would expect an independent Bougainville would have a number of potential international suitors to help them with their financial challenges,” Mr Pryke said.
Nana Buba from New Dawn Reports on visit to Bougainville
The visiting Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne this week met with the Bougainville women Peace builders at the Nazareth Rehabilitation centre, Chabai on the northern tip of mainland Bougainville.
She was very keen to know the work of these peace builders who work in their communities working tirelessly to end violence against women and children and also carry awareness on the upcoming referendum.
Presenters assisted Sister Loraine in presenting what the women peace builders have been doing silently to make the place free from violence and human right abuses in the communities.
The woman who made several comments is the former ABG member representing the women of South Bougainville, Rose Pihei who stressed the need to address traumatized people and also address mental health issues in our communities.
Mrs Pihie said that if these post conflict problems are not addressed Bougainville will be facing a big problem with these people in the future.
She said that the work Sr Loraine is doing must be supported by donor partners. The women had representatives that came all the way from North,Central and South Bougainville for this meeting.
The team was fully informed on the work of these women peace builders at this meeting.
The Bougainville Affairs Minister, DR. Puka Temu this week acknowledged the important tripartite relationship that the three countries, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have developed over the years.
Minister Temu made these remarks during lunch at the Reasons Guest house in Buka town . He said that this significant relationship between our three countries have grown over the years and continue strengthen our friendship.
Dr Temu also acknowledged the members of the Regional Peace Mission contributing countries like Solomon Islands Vanuatu and FIJI for their continued support for peace throughout the Pacific. He said as the Minister for Bougainville Affairs Minister it was only proper to thank these countries for their continued support especially assisting PNG on the Bougainville issue.
Dr Temu said that PNG will continue to work with Australia and New Zealand to complete the Bougainville Peace Agreement with the conduct of the referendum in October and also manage the transitional period after the vote is taken.
The Minister for Bougainville Affairs, SIR PUKA TEMU has told the visiting Australian and New Zealand delegation that since the change of the government two weeks ago, Prime Minister, JAMES MARAPE has announced that the PNG Government is 100 percent behind the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“ The Bougainville day, for this year alone, is very special for Bougainville when the people are getting ready to vote on the future political status of the government and region as a whole.
It was the cry of our ancestors that Bougainville becomes an independent nation.
Their cries haven’t fallen on deaf ears. Leaders and powerful decision makers have all heard our cries. And now it is up to us to make the choice come the Bougainville Referendum on October 12,” he said.
“So come. Let’s celebrate our past and embrace our future. Together we can reach that destiny,”
Acting Chief Secretary Mr Thomas Raivet said that he wants the Bougainville day celebrations to be bigger and better this year.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government was inaugurated on the 15th of June 2005. Today the region will commemorate the 14th Anniversary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. In the 14 years of its existence, the ABG has gone through many challenges and overcome many difficulties.
Photo Ishmael Milton Palipal
The few challenges and the negatives are minor, and give us Bougainvilleans strength and make us more determined group of people. And the challenges and negatives should be humiliated by the many achievements that the ABG continues to attain and deliver to the people of Bougainville.
Commemorating the event is one way that Bougainvilleans are continued to be reminded on the achievements and instill amongst them a clear sense of patriotism and they take ownership of the entire process of finding a lasting solution to the Bougainville conflict and aspiration.
As the window period on the conduct of the referendum is coming closer to its end and with the agreement on the Question to be asked in the Referendum, it is becoming apparent that the 14th ABG day may be the last to be celebrated under the current Autonomous arrangement, ensued by the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Based on this the ABG Department of Peace Agreement Implementation (DPAI) together with other ABG agencies, intends to ensure 14th anniversary of the ABG is celebrated differently from the past and previous ABG Days.
The event must be inclusive as much as possible so that all Bougainvilleans across the different levels and organizations fully participate. Particular emphasis will be placed on the youthful population and most importantly all ABG Department must be seen to embrace the day and fully participate directly or indirectly.
Some of the underline objectives of the 14th ABG day include;
To celebrate on the achievements of the Autonomous Bougainville Government since its establishment and positively look forward to the challenges that are yet to come,
To promote the identity of Bougainville through the various forms of arts and cultures that will be showcased during the ABG Day.
Doing away with regionalism and factionalism and promoting peace and unification amongst all Bougainvilleans through arts and cultures and other various forms that will be showcased,
To promote all inclusive participation of Bougainvilleans in the event. The event as much as possible must draw full participation of all stakeholders including the youthful population, women and elderly, people living with disabilities,
To inform Bougainvilleans on the recent development pertaining to the Referendum preparation.
The theme for this year’s ABG Day is set as “CELEBRATING OUR PAST, EMBRACING OUR FUTURE…TOGETHER WE CAN.
This theme fits in well as it continues to remind Bougainvilleans that we have come a long way after the cessation of the Bougainville conflict. And as we are progressing, we continue to achieve many positive outcomes for the betterment of the region we all call our home.
And as we celebrate we continue to remind ourselves that we are a peaceful people that does not want to enter into any conflict again. We have proven that through the survival of the Bougainville Peace Agreement without any relapse of war. Above all, the achievements are a result of the contribution of all Bougainvilleans and together we desire to achieve many positive outcomes for the years to come.
This year the celebrations will be big. The celebration for this year is set for two days Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16. The Program for Saturday will begin with a dawn service at the Bel Isi Park at Buka Town followed by a boat and truck floats, boat race, peace walk, tug of war, biker stunts and the main celebrations held at the Hutjena Oval.
On Sunday the celebrations takes place at the Hutjena Oval. There will be a combined church service followed by traditional dances, a panel discussion on the Bougainville Referendum; a theatre group to entertain with drama; Mr & Miss Bougainville Quest; bands to play till the afternoon and the releasing of the lanterns to remember the 20,000 lives lost during the Bougainville Crisis.
The Parliament’s Legislation Committee is conducting public enquiries into the following Government Bills:
BILL NUMBER ONE: Bougainville Mining (Amendment) Bill 2019;
BILL NUMBER TWO: Bougainville Advance Holdings Trust Authorization Bill 2019;
BILL NUMBER THREE: Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Limited Authorization Bill 2019.
BILL NUMBER ONE seeks to amend the Bougainville Act 2015 to allow the Bougainville Executive Council, in conjunction with the Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources, to issue a Special Bougainville Exploration Licence or Mining Lease to a Special Bougainville Entity.
BILL NUMBER TWO seeks to establish a Trust (the Bougainville Advance Holdings Trust).
BILL NUMBER THREE seeks to establish Bougainville Advance Holdings (AROB) Ltd as a commercial enterprise and business platform.
The Committee is calling for written submissions from interested persons and organizations. We ask that Submitters be clear in their submissions which Bill(s) they are offering a submission on.
The Committee invites public participation in the enquiry process. Written submissions addressing the Terms of Reference must be submitted to:
The Legislation Committee
Parliamentary Committee Secretariat Office
Bougainville House of Representatives,
KUBU, Buka, Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Submitters can indicate whether they want to appear to give evidence orally.
Further information about this enquiry is available and can be obtained directly at the Committee Secretariat Office location at Parliament House.
The Committee will consider requests that a submission remain confidential and not be released to the public.
THE CLOSING DATE FOR WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS IS 19th April 2019
TERMS OF REFERENCE
On Wednesday 13th February 2019 the House referred for the second time to the Legislation Committee, three Government Bills titled:
BOUGAINVILLE MINING (AMENDMENT) BILL 2019,
BOUGAINVILLE ADVANCE HOLDINGS TRUST AUTHORIZATION BILL 2019, and
BOUGAINVILLE ADVANCE HOLDINGS LIMITED AUTHORIZATION BILL 2019.
The Bills which were withdrawn by the sponsoring Ministers were again reintroduced on the floor of Parliament and are now in the hands of the responsible Committee to conduct public consultations, and report to the House.
The Committee adopts the following Terms of Reference governing its examination of the Bills. The Committee will:
Enquire into how the proposal was initiated by whom, within or outside of the Government et cetera;
Be mindful of and sensitive to the role that mining has played in the history of this country and what its role could be in the future for all people;
Examine the Bills and their drafting in detail;
Consult with responsible Ministers, Departments and officials and other key stakeholders;
Conduct consultation to gauge the widest range of Bougainvillean’s views on the proposed legislations;
Consider whether or not the Bills as drafted are consistent or not with existing objectives, principles, protections and duties in relevant legislation and instruments including (but not limited to) the Constitution of Bougainville and the Bougainville Mining Act 2015;
Propose any amendments to the Bills; and
Present a final report on its findings to the House in the next Parliament Session.
A Short Guide to writing a submission
While there is no set format for a submission to a select committee, you should aim to present your submission in a way that is ordered and easy to read.
Head your submission with the name of the select committee to which it is addressed and the full title of the bill, inquiry, or matter under consideration.
Provide the following information in a covering letter or at the top of your submission: your name or the name of the organisation you are representing; an email address; a contact address; and a daytime telephone number.
If you wish to appear before the committee, include with your name your daytime telephone number and email address. If you wish others to appear in support, include their names and, if representing an organisation, designations. What are your organisation’s aims?
If you are writing for an organisation, give brief details of the organisation’s aims, membership, and structure. Make sure that you have the authority to represent the organisation and note your position within the organisation.
Who has been consulted? Note how much support you have and how widely you have consulted while writing the submission.
Content of the Submission
When writing a submission, you will usually be making comments in relation to a bill or inquiry. While there are differences in the way in which a submission is written for a bill or inquiry, there are five basic principles that apply to both.
Relevant Your submission must be relevant to the matter before the committee. A committee may decide not to receive a submission it considers not relevant.
Clear Arrange your sentences and paragraphs in a logical order. Present a clear and logically developed argument. A submission that jumps from one issue to another and back again or jumbles unrelated issues together may confuse members and reduce its impact.
Concise Be simple and direct. Do not write more than is necessary. An overly long submission may prove too long for members to consider fully. They want to know what you think and the evidence or arguments you have that support your view.
Accurate Be accurate and complete. Include all relevant information. It will only confuse the committee if, in your submission, you refer to evidence or information that is not included. Make sure your facts are correct. An error-ridden submission will greatly reduce its impact and credibility.
Conclusion Restate your recommendations in a conclusion at the end of the submission or an executive summary at the beginning. Consider listing your submission’s recommendations or summing up its main points.
Writing a submission on an Inquiry
Writing a submission for an inquiry is different from writing a submission on a bill. As there are no specific clauses to comment on, use the terms of reference of the inquiry as a guide to presenting your views. You may then like to list any specific recommendations that you wish the committee to consider. It is essential to have a copy of the inquiry’s terms of reference to assist in preparing your submission.
Writing a submission on a Bill
When writing a submission on a bill you should have a copy of that bill so you know what is being proposed. You will then be able to focus your submission on what the bill actually contains.
First, state your general position on the bill, whether you support or oppose the measure being proposed, and give your reasons.
Having stated your general position, make more detailed comments on the clauses that are of concern to you. If you feel that certain clauses need to be changed, say so, and give your reasons. You might also like to suggest new wording for the clauses that you feel ought to be changed. Using clauses as numbered in the bill is a good way to organise your submission.
This notice is authorised by the Committee Chair Hon. Rodney Osioco
“ We are pleased to be able to inform the people of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville that the referendum on Bougainville’s long-term political future will be held on 17 October 2019”
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Hon. Peter O’Neill and President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Hon. Dr John Momis on Friday reaffirmed their joint commitment to ensuring the full implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Please Note : The writs will be issued on 16/8/19, with polling to take place between 12 and 17/10/2019
Reports and Photos : From Aloysius Laukai New Dawn
In the JSB Meeting Friday in Port Moresby, the two leaders acknowledged the importance of maintaining efforts to secure a lasting peace in Bougainville.
A critical outcome of the meeting was an agreement on the final date for the referendum to be held.
“We are pleased to be able to inform the people of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville that the referendum on Bougainville’s long-term political future will be held on 17 October 2019” the leaders said.
The meeting also considered important issues around peace and reconciliation and weapons disposal, with the two leaders agreeing that a national reconciliation ceremony will take place before the referendum is held.
Leaders also agreed that an independent expert will be appointed to advise on the formula for the Restoration and Development Grant, with the advice of the expert to be binding.
Leaders will meet again on 6 August 2019 ahead of the writs for the referendum being issued, to ensure that all necessary arrangements for the referendum are in place.
Part 2 : The Bougainville Referendum Commission on Friday recommended to the two governments of PNG and ABG to fast-track the work of the BRC by funding the BRC with funds totalling TWENTY MILLION KINA allocated by the National Government so that the preparations can be done quickly.
He said funds allocated by the ABG totalling FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND Kina was used up already in other preparatory work.
He said that the target date of June 15th cannot be met because of this shortfall.
The Chairman said that the Commission had met different stakeholders on Bougainville and they are all set for the conduct of the referendum.
The Chairman also noted that Peace reconciliations and weapons disposals ceremonies have been ongoing on Bougainville and he was happy with how Bougainville was preparing for the referendum.
He said that the Referendum must be done properly so that the outcome can be credible and bring lasting peace on Bougainville. Meanwhile the Prime Minister told the JSB funds totalling TEN MILLION KINA has been transferred to the Bougainville Referendum Trust account and the remaining Ten Million kina will be paid next week.
” In setting up our own Ombudsman office, we first need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want Bougainville to become?
A Bougainville Ombudsman that is fully functional and has the support and respect of elected leaders and the people can set the tone for the whole society – government, business and the community. To this end a nurturing role in a highly involved mentoring and consultative process would be fitting
How important is it to us to have a body that holds our elected leaders to account and encourages open, transparent government? How much can we do with what we have?
Those are the sorts of questions we need to be asking.
We have many hard decisions to make and challenges to face, which is a normal process of growing up. Autonomy means building our state institutions in governance and in other sectors.
A serious discussion about a Bougainville Ombudsman immediately at back the end of Referendum process would be timely and important.”
Simon Pentanu : As from 2015 Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives and was PNG’s Chief Ombudsman 1995-2000
Bougainville should begin the groundwork soon to have its own Ombudsman by 2020-22.
The Autonomous Bougainville Constitution provides for a Bougainville Ombudsman.
I reckon by the year 2025 it should be sufficiently well established to be inducted a member of the International Ombudsman Institute.
The kind of Ombudsman Bougainville needs is an oversight body – to oversee the activities of government and give the people confidence that their representatives are following the rules and governing transparently. The Ombudsman’s purpose must be clearly understood and appreciated by everyone – that is, by the governors who are elected to lead and by the governed, who have an expectation that those that they elect to govern can be trusted to lead.
My six years as PNG’s Chief Ombudsman have given me many insights into what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to oversight bodies and how time and resources can be wasted if the right efforts are not being made to bring to bear the changes and results needed.
Photo: Attending the International Ombudsman Institute Board of Directors, Pretoria, South Africa 2000
Without sounding idealistic and simplistic, if Bougainville borrows the best practices and processes from the PNG Ombudsman Commission and discards those that have rendered its processes tardy, futile and adversarial, as well as looks at the strengths of the traditional role of the Ombudsman around the world, Bougainville’s Ombudsman could be a vital, effective cog in our democratic machinery.
In setting up our own Ombudsman office, we first need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want Bougainville to become?
A Bougainville Ombudsman that is fully functional and has the support and respect of elected leaders and the people can set the tone for the whole society – government, business and the community. To this end a nurturing role in a highly involved mentoring and consultative process would be fitting.
Bougainville is a relatively small Island in terms of land size and population but has the resourcefulness and a wealth of experiences to learn from its past and steer clear of bumps and potholes into the future. If we are serious about Bougainville’s future wherever we are, we should all think, metaphorically speaking, like an Ombudsman.
The institution of Ombudsman that functions well and which a society can relate to in terms of delivering on the expectations of good, honest government can be tremendous help and value to society.
And the old adage is worth keeping in mind: if a job is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well. A Bougainville Ombudsman that will nurture and develop our leaders to appreciate their roles as elected representatives and their value to society, cannot depend solely on the advice and assistance of the over-stretched Ombudsman Commission of PNG. We need to look to the best international models and learn from the premier international examples.
We are fortunate to have the recently established PNG Ombudsman Commission Regional Office in Buka. That office can be used to start the groundwork for establishing a Bougainville Ombudsman, but that should not be the only source of our advice and assistance.
Let us not stall on establishing, or seriously thinking about, important state institutions under the Autonomous arrangements on the basis of lack of funds. Whenever we hold out inadequate finances as the main explanation we will keep believing this to be obstacle. A better way to think about it is that we have challenges in how we allocate and spend our available financial resources. We have to prioritise.
How important is it to us to have a body that holds our elected leaders to account and encourages open, transparent government? How much can we do with what we have? Those are the sorts of questions we need to be asking.
We have many hard decisions to make and challenges to face, which is a normal process of growing up. Autonomy means building our state institutions in governance and in other sectors. A serious discussion about a Bougainville Ombudsman immediately at back the end of Referendum process would be timely and important.
Having said all of the above I would also seriously caution the ABG and the House of Representatives not to rush into invoking the constitutional provision to create a Bougainville Ombudsman Commission overnight or before the referendum if the intention or motive is to avoid any elected leader in Bougainville from being referred to the Ombudsman Commission of PNG for alleged misconduct in office under the leadership Code.
” Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has serious concerns over proposed new mining laws that some members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) seem keen to rush through parliament.
The three bills that were introduced to parliament last Wednesday, with insufficient stakeholder consultation, are proving divisive at a time when unity is required in the lead-up to the referendum.
If passed, one of the bills seeks to amend the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 to allow a new company, Bougainville Advance Mining Limited, to be issued with a special mining licence granting “large-scale mining leases over all land in Bougainville available for reconnaissance, exploration and mining that is not subject to an existing exploration licence or mining lease”. Leases of up to 100 years could be granted.”
See Continued Part 2 Below
The government of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea believes establishing its own company to re-open the long shut Panguna mine will solve its funding crisis going into the referendum.
Bougainville is due to hold a referendum on independence from PNG in June this year.
However, it claimed that the national government had not yet provided the money it is constitutionally bound to provide.
The Bougainville government had previously placed a moratorium on re-opening Panguna to ensure the vote was not disrupted, but President John Momis said the region is facing an emergency.
He said this is why it is setting up Bougainville Advance Mining in which the government and people of Bougainville will hold a permanent majority ownership.
“Time is running out on us. The people of Bougainville are determined to have the referendum and they must find the money to fund the referendum. One way of doing it would be if we started our own company and generated the revenue to enable us to conduct the referendum. We cannot sit on our hands.”
Landowners of the closed Panguna Copper and Gold Mine today called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government that they are ready to partner with the ABG and open the mine that created disunity amongst the people of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
In an exclusive interview with New Dawn FM, Chairman of the SPECIAL MINING LEASE OSIKAIYANG LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION (SMLOLA) PHILIP MIRIORI and LAWRENCE DAVEONA said that they are ready to talk with the Government on ways they can work together for Bougainville’s future.
They said that they were not happy with the Government trying to make amendments to the untested Bougainville Mining Act.
MIRIORI said that the Panguna landowners were tasked by the ABG to work on uniting the landowners and they had to do it just to find out that the Government had now changed their mind on the issues at Panguna.
He said when the Panguna people are finally united they want to put issues of the past and work into the future.
MIRIORI said that the Panguna situation is already complex with the landowners, RTG and BCL.
If the ABG backs McGLINN the situation will become more complex.
He said the only way PANGUNA can be resolved, is through negotiation
Part 2 BCL Press Release
These bills mirror proposals put forward by an Australian opportunist Jeffery McGlinn, whose apparent primary business appears to be horse breeding. In presentations to MPs and others he has proposed a 40 per cent stake in Bougainville Advance Mining for his own newly formed company Caballus Mining with other unknown foreign investors and sovereign states.
These developments raise very legitimate legal, constitutional and ethical questions, not only by BCL and its shareholders, but also by landowners in Bougainville and others in the community. More widely these bills could also be interpreted as both anti-competitive and anti-investment which is the last thing Bougainville needs.
Bougainville introduced good laws and regulations in 2015 designed to rebalance Bougainville’s mineral rights after a long period of consultation with all stakeholders. Now those rights are being undermined in haste by these proposed changes. Any genuine investor worth its mettle should be able to work within the existing laws. The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 therefore does not need to be changed.
BCL urges ABG leaders to think very seriously about the unnecessary divisions being created by these proposed amendments to the Mining Act and instead re-focus on the important work of unifying landowners and Bougainvilleans at this critical time for Bougainville, as they prepare for the referendum.
From the company’s own perspective, these legislative moves also ignore current court proceedings and BCL’s rights to natural justice and they are also at odds with the ABG’s decision to place a moratorium over the Panguna project area. The ABG has maintained there should be no discussions regarding mining activities in Panguna until after the referendum.
In early 2018, the ABG advised of a decision not to grant BCL an extension of its exploration licence (EL1) over the Panguna project area.
BCL maintains that the application process was both legally and procedurally flawed and was also undermined by other parties with competing commercial interests in Panguna mineral rights.
To protect the interests of all those with a significant stake in our company, including the people of Bougainville, BCL commenced legal proceedings in the PNG National Court seeking a Judicial Review of the decision. We were subsequently granted leave by the court to seek the review.
Since being invited back to Bougainville in 2012 by the ABG to reengage about the prospect of redeveloping Panguna, BCL has always conducted itself in an ethical and respectful manner and we continue to support worthwhile community projects.
The ABG and PNG National Government remain major shareholders in the company and we retain strong support among customary landowners in the project area and others in the community. BCL also possesses valuable local knowledge, project IP and mining expertise.
We have a highly-regarded local board led by respected Bougainvillean Sir Melchior Togolo as well as strong connections within the global mining and investment communities where there are potential project partners.
For all these reasons BCL remains a viable option for future mineral development in Bougainville and in the best interests of all Bougainvilleans, we would urge all members of the ABG parliament to seriously consider this before the bills are further read on 12 February.
Community leaders, landowners and others who are concerned by these proposals also have an opportunity to ensure their voices are heard by decision-makers before these laws are passed.
“ In Bougainville we should learn to start listening to each other, especially to the voices in the wilderness. The echo to a sound doesn’t always come from where you think it will. Everyone’s voice is important and must be heard. We should heed our backbench voices – not only when they raise their voices, thump the bench and walk out. Autonomy and unity must be about the caring spirit of individuals having a collective cause to promote a better humanity.
We must see the Referendum as not just an inevitable political contest. You are not going to choose between two individual competing candidates. What you will be deciding on is what kind of a society you want – what kind of community we all want.
And what kind of Bougainville do we want to leave for our future generations.”
The sea is a huge food bowl – a supermarket for all varieties of seafood. Its waters serve as highways for transportation. It provides therapeutic bathing and gives us salt for seasoning and preserving food. It is the hugest swimming pool!
It provides a facility and venue for all manner of leisurely and competitive sports. The beauty and serenity of its white sand beaches – where millions of tourists and locals flock to walk, laze, tan and burn themselves – give joy to people across the world.
The sea drives the fashion industry, which keeps churning out new designs to gird the loins of bathers, swimmers, surfers, sailors and beachcombers.
The list of things associated with the use of the ocean goes on and on – in fact it goes miles out to sea. This isn’t surprising when we consider about 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is water covered and the oceans hold about 96 per cent of Earth’s water.
Water sports are among humanity’s most popular pastimes and activities. We seem to be unable to get enough of game fishing, snorkelling, diving, water skiing, kiteboarding, sailing and more.
And then there is surfing. Surfing has developed its own international culture, which connects a huge population of world surfers through a common language of love, fun, serious competition and an obsession for surfing and its variations across continents. Surfers flock to places like Fiji, Tahiti and Bali, to catch the famous waves in these destinations.
Humans’ connection with the sea obviously has a huge impact on many small state economies. Some of the most popular resorts around the world are dotted along the coastlines of small nations – in the Pacific, the Caribbean and south-east Asia.
Eco-tourism has emerged in many places as a conscious option for travellers who want to experience the beauty of the planet without damaging our fragile environment in the process.
Sadly, the advances being made by eco-tourism in Pacific countries are probably being cancelled out by the continuation of practices from last century that are damaging our Earth. I’m talking about multinational logging companies clear felling huge tracts of rainforest (including virgin rainforest) in places like PNG and the Solomon Islands. Rainforests, sometimes called the lungs of the Earth, are also being short-sightedly destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations, which, although they appear green, are actually lifeless monocultures that are sprayed with chemicals and leave the soil depleted.
Right on the edge of the growing township of Buka, Bougainville’s current HQ, the senseless uprooting of tracts of healthy mangrove trees has not been stopped by authorities, even though it goes on in broad daylight.
Mangroves are an amazing gift to humanity. They are nurseries for numerous fish and sea creatures – a place for marine life to breed, feed and raise their young away from the threats of sharks and bigger ocean fish. And we are finding out how effective mangroves can be in protecting human populations from tsunamis and tidal surges. To rip them out is madness and an action we will regret.
We must preserve the things that give our communities life – the oceans, the forests, the rivers, the mangroves and the mountains. Interestingly, these things, which sustain our lives, are also attractive to eco-tourists.
In many respects PNG is fortunate to have avoided the ravages of mass tourism. Whether unwittingly or otherwise, tourism in the country has developed into a niche market of mostly adventure-seeking travellers, more interested in reefs, rainforests and unique cultures than in nightclubs and international hotels. For this we should be eternally grateful.
When it comes to tourism in general and in eco-tourism in particular, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville can, very clearly, learn a lot from the rest of PNG, from our cousins across the border in the Solomon Islands, from the rest of the Pacific and from countries and peoples in the rest of the world.
Before the advent of industrial logging, the Solomons was a country of hundreds of forested islands which provided for the needs of its people.
I can recall conversations that the startling Marovo Lagoon, which surrounds Vangunu Island in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province, was being considered for UNESCO world heritage status. The lagoon had the largest double barrier reef in the world and it was being considered for listed as one of the world’s natural heritage wonders.
Sadly, 15 years of open slather logging – along with the inevitable run-off and reef damage – put an end to that dream. The little money that was earned by the indigenous land owners will be long gone. The trees will be gone. The lagoon, once a place of precious local and national pride, will never be the same.
The country and the many generation of Solomon Islanders to come will be the poorer for the lack of foresight and policies of their successive governments and the wanton greed of their elders who gave this land to the loggers.
Similar examples of this abound in PNG, where huge tracts of forests are being clear felled under the guise of controversial Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL).
Logging Tonolei in South Bougainville, under a SABL type agreement with landowners, to introduce oil palm that will destroy good fertile land is very short-sighted.
It is the sort of plan grasped by political leaders who want quick fixes and quick returns. We must resist this sort of thinking. In the long term the landowners will be worse off after depleting what is their capital, their resource. This forest has sustained their populations over hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The damage to the land, the pride and integrity of a self-sustaining people and the loss of their ecosystem is irreversible. Can we please learn from the example of the Marovo Lagoon?
It is not dissimilar to a person losing their soul.
The knee jerk reaction to this has always been that this is development and progress. The truth is we have a growing population of people who have become victims of this so-called development and progress. Yes, we want development and progress, but let’s have it on our own terms and not destroy the things that give our communities life.
Let us back ourselves that we will not go under if we do not knock over the trees, dig up and maul the earth and scavenge the seabed to supposedly ‘catch up’ with the rest of the world.
The truth is those who take from the Earth are never satisfied, while we are quite content to live by what nature provides and will keep providing, so long as we respect her and take care of her.
This may sound overly simplistic, but if we are prepared to learn from each other, we can make the world a safer, more peaceful and contented place without greed, wars and prejudice.
In Bougainville we should learn to start listening to each other, especially to the voices in the wilderness. The echo to a sound doesn’t always come from where you think it will. Everyone’s voice is important and must be heard. We should heed our backbench voices – not only when they raise their voices, thump the bench and walk out. Autonomy and unity must be about the caring spirit of individuals having a collective cause to promote a better humanity.
We must see the Referendum as not just an inevitable political contest. You are not going to choose between two individual competing candidates. What you will be deciding on is what kind of a society you want – what kind of community we all want.
And what kind of Bougainville do we want to leave for our future generations.
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.
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 UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEFand OHCHR together with partners.
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.