Creating partnerships crucial in lead up to independence referendum

Apr 7, 2018

Flag raising during Bougainville day. Partnerships are key to the success of the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Alice Plate/UNDP (PNG).

Buka, April 2018 - “We need to restore our credibility in Bougainville, and to do that we need to engage with respected partners on the ground. One of those, no doubt, is UNDP.”

Gari Baki, Commissioner of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC), recognises the value of building strong partnerships and improving the reputation of his force across Bougainville.

 The creation of partnerships will continue to be a critical element towards achieving peace throughout the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, with RPNGC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea to build upon their partnership prior to Bougainville’s independence referendum in 2019.

 “We’ve put together a five-year strategic plan for our work in Bougainville. With this, building partnerships is key and I see many areas where UNDP can come in to support us,” Commissioner Baki said.

 The Autonomous Region of Bougainville came out of a brutal and bloody near-decade long civil war in the late 1990s, where tens of thousands of lives were lost during the conflict.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA), signed in 2001, provides a roadmap for the work being conducted by UNDP in Bougainville. The BPA is based on three pillars: post-conflict weapons disposal, governance arrangements and a referendum on the political status of Bougainville to be held between 2015-2019.

In 2014, a peace and development analysis was conducted throughout Bougainville, which showed that the province should not be considered as a post-conflict state given that many of the issues that started the conflict still exist to this day.

Creating partnerships is key to achieving the three pillars as set out in the BPA and it’s also a major focus in regard to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Goal 17 of the SDGs looks at partnerships, and stresses that all goals can only be realised with a strong commitment to partnership and cooperation.

This partnership established between UNDP and the RPNGC is only in its infancy, but will be a partnership that will no doubt continue over the coming years.

“We are quite honoured in terms of our partnership that we have with the police. Confidence is improving in the police force, and that is why we want to continue our partnership,” said Lawrence Bassie, UNDP Peacebuilding Fund Coordinator. 

Increasing awareness across the entirety of the population on Bougainville ahead of 2019’s referendum is a key facet of the work of UNDP, with RPNGC providing an avenue towards ensuring that this process takes place within a peaceful manner.

“Security and achieving peace through peaceful means is where this partnership can thrive. We need to remember that peacebuilding is an ongoing process, things keep changing,” said Mr Bassie.

Superintendent Baki acknowledges that UNDP can also continue to provide technical support to his force in regard to upholding the charter of the BPA.

“This partnership with the police and UNDP can only help the population on the ground here in Bougainville,” he said.

This project has been made possible with support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. The fund was established in 2006 out of the recognition that among the impediments to successful peacebuilding is the scarcity of resources, most notably financial resources. The fund aims to extend critical support during the early stages of a peace process.

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Police parade during Bougainville day. Partnerships are key to the success of the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Alice Plate/UNDP (PNG).

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