Date & time
The 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement ended the deadliest conflict in the Pacific since the Second World War. The agreement, between the Government of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville leaders, rests on three pillars. These are: the creation of a special, high-level of autonomy, a deferred referendum on Bougainville’s political future and weapons disposal. The autonomy provisions of the Agreement were ambitious. They envisioned a substantial re- organisation of the institutions of government within Bougainville and the development of strong, purposeful relationships between Papua New Guinea and the new Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).
With the referendum on Bougainville’s future status scheduled to be held this coming October, it is timely to assess implementation of the autonomy provisions of the Agreement.
The design of the Bougainville Peace Agreement is ‘best practice’ in terms of managing political conflict but there was insufficient attention given to ‘how’ the autonomy agreements could be implemented. The scale of the task involved in building a new administration was overlooked, an unfeasible implementation load placed on the two governments, and the extent of outside support not comparable to peacebuilding elsewhere in the Pacific.
And nor can the state of Bougainville be synonymised solely with the state of the ABG. At a micro-level, the ABG is part of a wide range of actors and institutions – some governmental, some non-governmental – involved in governance in Bougainville today. These dynamic and relationship-based arrangements offer another way of thinking about governance in Bougainville in this year of the referendum.
About the speaker
Gordon Peake is a visitor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), ANU. Since 2016, Gordon has been advising on implementation of the autonomy aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and has previously worked across the Pacific and in Timor-Leste. Gordon’s first book, Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets from Timor-Leste was winner of the ACT Book of the Year & People’s Choice Awards. He is presently writing a book on New Guinea.