51. Papua New Guinea/Bougainville (1975-present)


Crisis Phase (September 1, 1975-November 21, 1988): Bougainville Island nationalists led by Leo Hannett and John Momis declared the independence of Bougainville (Republic of the North Solomons) from the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on September 1, 1975. Government and Bougainville representatives signed an agreement on August 9, 1976, which provided provincial status with PNG for Bougainville Island.  Francis Ona and other landowners on the island of Bougainville were concerned about the environmental impact of the Panguna cooper mine operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd. since 1969, including possible environmental damage to the Jaba River from the copper mine.  The landowners demanded more than $10 billion in compensation.  The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) headed by Francis Ona was established in November 1988.

Conflict Phase (November 22, 1988-March 2, 1990):  BRA rebels led by Francis Ona attacked government installations on November 22, 1988.  The PNG government declared a state-of-emergency on December 23, 1988. Australia provided military assistance (helicopters and equipment) to the PNG government beginning in 1988 ($200 million between 1988 and 1996).  The Panguna cooper mine was closed on May 15, 1989.  The government declared a state-of-emergency on June 22, 1989, and the parliament approved the state-of-emergency on July 14, 1989.  Government troops launched a military offensive against BRA rebels on the island of Bougainville on January 11, 1990. The parties agreed to a cessation of military hostilities on February 25, 1990, and the ceasefire went into effect on March 2, 1990.

Post-Conflict Phase (March 3, 1990-August 14, 1994):  Francis Ona and the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) proclaimed Bougainville’s independence from PNG on May 17, 1990. The government imposed a blockade of Bougainville beginning in May 1990. New Zealand facilitated negotiations between government and Bougainville representatives beginning on July 28, 1990. The parties signed the Endeavor Accord on August 5, 1990, which provided for the lifting of the PNG blockade of Bougainville. Government and Bougainville representatives signed the Declaration on Peace, Reconciliation, and Rehabilitation in Bougainville in Honiara, Solomon Islands on January 24, 1991, which provided for a cessation of military hostilities. Government troops landed in northern Bougainville in April 1991. Government troops attacked a fuel storage depot in the Solomon Islands on March 12-17, 1992 and September 12, 1992 (PNG had accused the Solomon Islands of providing military assistance to the BRA). Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni of the Solomon Islands protested the military attacks.

Conflict Phase (August 15, 1994-September 9, 1994): Government troops launched a military offensive against BRA rebels on August 15-25, 1994. Prime Minister Julius Chan and BRA rebels commanded by Sam Kauona signed a ceasefire agreement in Honiara, Solomon Islands on September 3, 1994. The ceasefire went into effect on September 10, 1994.

Post-Conflict Phase (September 10-1994-March 22, 1996): On September 28, 1994, the governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu agreed to establish the South Pacific Peacekeeping Force (SPPF)/Operation Lagoon to provide security for the upcoming Arawa Peace Conference scheduled to begin on October 10, 1994.  SPPKF, which consisted of 370 military personnel from Australia (200 personnel), Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga, and Vanuatu (50 personnel) commanded by Brig. General Peter Abigail of Australia, was deployed on October 9, 1994.  On October 22, 1994, SPPF personnel withdrew from Bougainville after the Arawa Peace Conference was abandoned.  The government established the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) headed by Theodore Miriung in Buka in April 1995. Government and Bougainville representatives held negotiations in Cairns, Australia between September 9 and November 10, 1995.

Conflict Phase (March 23, 1996-April 30, 1998): The government declared an end to the 18-month ceasefire, and government troops launched a military offensive (Operation High Speed II) against BRA rebels on March 23, 1996.  The government launched another military offensive against BRA rebels on June 20, 1996.  Australia and New Zealand condemned the government on June 21, 1996.  Government troops and BRA rebels clashed near Kangu Beach in southern Bougainville on September 8, 1996, resulting in the deaths of 13 government soldiers and capture of five government soldiers. Prime Minister Miriung of the BTG was assassinated in southern Bougainville by government soldiers on October 12, 1996.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) appointed Thirunavukkarasu Suntheralingam of Sri Lanka to conduct an investigation of the assassination of Prime Minister Miriung beginning on November 10, 1996. The CON issued a report regarding the assassination of Prime Minister Miriung on December 2, 1996.  Thomas Batakai, a member of the BTG, was killed by government soldiers in Arawa on August 3, 1997.  Australian and New Zealand foreign ministers mediated negotiations between the parties beginning on August 22, 1997, and the foreign ministers mediated an interim ceasefire agreement between government and Bougainville representatives on October 10, 1997.  The BRA did not endorse the ceasefire agreement.  The Truce Monitoring Group (TMG), which consisted of some 250 personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu commanded by General Roger Mortlock of New Zealand, was established to monitor the ceasefire agreement in Bougainville beginning on December 6, 1997.  Government and Bougainville representatives signed the Australia and New Zealand-mediated Agreement on Peace, Security, and Development on Bougainville in Christchurch, New Zealand on January 23, 1998, which provided for the extension of the interim ceasefire.  Government and Bougainville representatives formally signed the Arawa Peace Treaty on April 30, 1998, which provided for a permanent cessation of military hostilities and the establishment of the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC).  Some 15,000 individuals were killed, and some 70,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (May 1, 1998-June 30, 2005): The Australia-led Peace Monitoring Group (PMG), which consisted of 300 military and civilian observers from Australia (250 personnel), New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu commanded by Brig. General Bruce Osborn of Australia, was established to monitor the ceasefire agreement beginning on May 1, 1998.  On June 15, 1998, the United Nations (UN) Security Council agreed to establish the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement in Bougainville.  UNPOB, which consisted of three civilian personnel and one military personnel, was officially established on August 1, 1998.  Foreign Minister Michael Somare of the PNG government offered to grant autonomy to Bougainville, but the offer was rejected by the Bougainville People’s Congress (BPC) on October 11, 1999.  On March 30, 2000, the Bougainville Interim Government, including Governor John Morris and the Interim Provisional Assembly, were inaugurated in Buka.  Representatives of the PNG government and Bougainville signed a peace agreement (Kokopo Agreement) on January 26, 2001, which provided for a referendum on the independence of Bougainville.  Australia facilitated negotiations between the parties in Townsville, Australia on February 19-26, 2001.  On May 3, 2001, Bougainville rebels agreed to turn over their weapons to the government.  Government and Bougainville representatives signed a UNPOB facilitated peace agreement in Arawa, Papua New Guinea on August 30, 2001, which provided for a referendum in Bougainville in 10 to 15 yearsThe PNG parliament approved the Bougainville peace agreement on March 27, 2002.  PNG government troops completed their withdrawal from the island of Bougainville on April 17, 2003.  The PMG was disbanded on June 30, 2003, and the Bougainville Transition Team (BTT) was established to promote and instill confidence in the peace process (i.e. provide good offices) beginning on July 1, 2003.  The BTT consisted of 17 civilian personnel led by Australia (and including personnel from New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu).  UNPOB and BTT were disbanded on December 31, 2003.  On December 23, 2003, the UN Security Council agreed to establish the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) to verify the disposal of weapons in Bougainville.  UNOMB, which consisted of two civilian observers (including Ambassador Noel Sinclair of Guyana) and two civilian staff members, was deployed on January 1, 2004.  Ambasador Noel Sinclair was replaced as the Director of UNOMB by Tor Stenbock of Norway on February 29, 2004.  Twenty-four police personnel from Australia (19) and New Zealand (5) were deployed to assist local police in maintaining law and order in Bougainville beginning on September 7, 2004.  As a result of a PNG Supreme Court ruling regarding the constitutionality of granting immunity to international police personnel, Australia and New Zealand withdrew their police personnel from Bougainville on May 16, 2005.  Elections were held on the island of Bougainville from May 20 to June 2, 2005.  The International Election Observer Mission (IEOM-Bougainville) consisting of fifteen observers headed by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau of Fiji monitored the elections from May 16 to June 9, 2005.  The IEOM-Bougainville included nine observers representing the Commonwealth of Nations (CON) and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), three observers representing the Japanese government, and three observers representing the Australian government.  The People’s Congress Party (PCP) headed by Joseph Kabui won 14 out of 40 seats in the parliament.  Joseph Kabui of the PCP was elected president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), and he was sworn into office on June 15, 2005.  The UNOMB verified that the weapons disposal program was complete, and the UNOMB was officially disbanded on June 30, 2005.

Post-Crisis Phase (July 1, 2005-present):  Francis Ona, a Bougainville rebel leader, died of malaria on July 24, 2005.  Joseph Kabui, president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, died from a heart attack on June 7, 2008.  James Tanis was elected president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in a special election held from November 30 to December 18, 2008, and he was sworn in as president on January 6, 2009.  Elections were held on the island of Bougainville from May 7 to May 24, 2010.  John Momis, the former governor of Bougainville and a member of the New Bougainville Party (NBP), was elected president with 52 percent of the vote.  The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) sent three observers led by Martin Tete of Vanuatu to monitor the elections from May 6 to May 27, 2010.  John Momis was sworn in as president on June 10, 2010.

[Sources: Agence France-Presse (AFP), March 3, 1997, January 23, 1998, February 9, 1998; Associated Press (AP), March 1, 1997, January 27, 2001, February 26, 2001, August 31, 2001; Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), June 4, 2005; Banks and Muller, 1998, 714-719; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 236-237; Brecher and Wilkenfeld, 1997, 565-566; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), November 17, 1997, November 20, 1997, January 23, 1998, April 30, 1998, February 23, 2001, May 21, 2005, June 6, 2005, July 25, 2005; Commonwealth of Nations (CON) press release, November 8, 1996, June 3, 1997, June 18, 2003, May 12, 2005, July 22, 2005; Facts on File, August 16, 1975, August 9, 2001; Hong Kong Standard, January 23, 1998; Inter Press Service (IPS), January 3, 2000; Jessup, 1998, 519-521; Keesing’s Record of World Events, October 6-12, 1975, May 1989, July 1989, January 1990, February 1990, May 1990, August 1990, January 1991, September 1994, May 1995, September 1995, November 1995, June 1996, October 1996, July 1997, October 1997, January 1998, April 1998; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA-Japan) press release, May 13, 2005; Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) press release, May 13, 2005; Premdas, 1977, 64-85; Reuters, July 8, 1999, March 10, 2000, February 15, 2001, February 19, 2001, February 26, 2001, May 9, 2001, May 10, 2001, June 24, 2003, June 30, 2003; Straits Times (Singapore), November 18, 1997; Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), November 22, 1997, November 24, 1997; The Courier (no.171), September/October 1998; The Guardian (Australia), September 20, 1995, September 25, 1995, September 9, 1998; The National (PNG), December 9, 1997, December 11, 1997, October 12, 1999; United Nations Security Council (UNSC) press release, April 23, 1998, June 15, 2005.]


Selected Bibliography

Wolfers, Edward P.  “International Peace Missions in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, 1990-2005, Host State Perspectives,” Regional Forum on Reinventing Government, Nadi, Republic of the Fiji Islands, July 20-22, 2006.