Bougainville’s Autonomy Arrangements: Implementation Dilemmas

Gordon Peake*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    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 the conflict-ravaged region and the development of strong, purposeful relationships between Papua New Guinea and the new Autonomous Bougainville Government. The design of the Bougainville Peace Agreement is ‘best practice’ in terms of managing ethno-political conflict but there was insufficient attention given to ‘how’ the autonomy agreements within it could be implemented. The scale of the task involved in building a new administration was underestimated, an unfeasible implementation load was placed on the two governments, and the extent of outside support was not comparable to peacebuilding elsewhere in the Pacific. The literatures on autonomy, decentralisation and peacebuilding offer little guidance on how these ‘implementation dilemmas’ are to be tackled.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)275-292
    Number of pages18
    JournalRound Table
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


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