Since the cessation of hostilities and signing of the peace agreement, Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have seen significant transformations including political stability, economic growth and better delivery of education, health and other services. But we know that further efforts are required to continue to improve the lives of all citizens and to meet the rising aspirations of people.
Despite many challenges over the past 15 years, the national Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government continue to demonstrate a commitment that will foster lasting peace and stability within the country and the Pacific region. This commitment was demonstrated and reinforced at the last Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Port Moresby in May this year. At that meeting both governments agreed on a joint referendum work plan and the target date for the conduct of the Bougainville referendum. Both governments also requested the UN to assist the Autonomy Review, help to establish the independent body to conduct the Referendum and support weapons disposal work. This is now being followed up by the UN.
As we know, the target date is now set for 15 June 2019. It is now the responsibility of all parties to ensure that all of the necessary preparatory work is completed expeditiously so that the referendum is organised efficiently to deliver a free, fair and transparent outcome. It is important for this work to commence as soon as possible. With National Elections in Papua New Guinea scheduled in 2017 and the APEC Summit planned for 2018, it is also vital for key decisions including on the Referendum body to be taken by the National Government and the ABG in a timely manner.
In spite of numerous challenges, I am extremely pleased to say that the presence of the United Nations in Bougainville continues and in fact has been reinforced over the past year. The UN remains strongly committed to the Bougainville peace process and we continue to maintain our presence in Bougainville and in Papua New Guinea. Today, I am pleased to reaffirm our commitment to support the efforts of the national Government and the ABG to implement the provisions of the BPA including all of the clauses enshrined in both constitutions, as well as the Organic law on Peace Building in Bougainville.
To demonstrate the UN’s continued commitment to the peace process, today we are providing the ABG with a Mobile Cinema/Audio Outreach Vehicle, a Community Information Centre for the referendum and 10,000 copies of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as a contribution to the awareness raising component of the peace process and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
The people of Bougainville can be assured that the United Nations will continue to cooperate and collaborate with both the National Government, the ABG and other development partners to assist in keeping the peace process on track and ensuring that the referendum that will determine Bougainville’s political future is implemented in a credible and transparent manner as provided for in the Bougainville Peace Agreement and other legal instruments.
On behalf of the United Nations System, I wish to congratulate the people and all of the leaders of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville on the commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement”.
Note to the Editor:
In Bougainville the UN continues to support peacebuilding activities as well as working with Parliamentarians and promoting the inclusion of women and youth in decision making processes. The UN was proud to support the work of the Office of the Bougainville Elections Commissioner last year, with support from the Australian Government. Today, the UN is supporting work in health, education, human rights awareness, climate and environment, disaster risk reduction/response, displacement and capacity building with the ABG and with non-governmental organisations, faith based organisations and the media. A significant proportion of our work in Bougainville is funded through the United Nations Peace Building Fund and implemented by UNDP in partnership with other UN agencies. This has seen the UN support in strengthening partnership and political dialogue between the national government and the ABG through supporting work of Referendum Committee structures and Parliamentary system; supporting knowledge-building and awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and promoting community security and social cohesion through addressing trauma counselling services.
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