With generous support from UNDP through the Supporting Peace in Bougainville Project and Misereor e.V. (the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation) Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia (PaCSIA) and its local partners in Bougainville have started the next phase of the successful Bougainville Transition Dialogues (BTD) project.
The project supports the peace process in Bougainville by creating spaces for community dialogue about the transition consultation between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Bougainvilleans voted overwhelmingly for independence in the 2019 referendum and now the two governments are now consulting on the ratification of the referendum result and the next steps in Bougainville’s peace process. The project supports these consultations by providing information from both governments to the population of Bougainville and by providing spaces for dialogue, discussion, questions and the views of Bougainvilleans from all levels of society.
Dialogues are facilitated by a network of local Bougainvillean peacebuilders from the communities and the project is a partnership between the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Bougainville Christian Churches Association, UNDP, PaCSIA and the civil society of Bougainville. Questions and comments raised by the participants are documented by the facilitators and shared with both governments, the churches, UN, and international stakeholders. Feedback from the communities is also used by both governments to create awareness materials and to inform key messages and consultation discussions.
BTD facilitators have started a new round of dialogues in early February and are currently making their way across Bougainville to discuss the consultation framework agreed by both governments and to gather questions from the people of Bougainville to be answered later in the year.
Participants in the constituency of Halia commented: “Dialogue is a great way to share ideas and to contribute meaningfully during the transition period. This kind of dialogue is very good because every person will have a say concerning our future.” Participants in Konnou noted, that they “learned about the ministerial task force, consultation forum and consultation team and understand now what these terms mean.”
The project is complemented by the participatory video initiative Wokabaut Senis, in which communities in Bougainville produce short videos on how they contribute to the peace process and economic development of their region. Facilitators record these videos and share them between different communities using portable video projectors. These videos help to create unity and showcase innovative thinking and community-based initiatives. The videos can be viewed on the PaCSIA YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsxqK8FX33dLXxqcR7u5O1Q.