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Reconciliation and Architectures of Commitment: Sequencing peace in Bougainville

9. Interpreting the conflict in summary

This chapter summarises key features of how the Bougainville case will be coded for Peacebuilding Compared. Table 9.1 summarises some key codes that define the section headings in the structure of the chapter.

Table 9.1 Summary of some Bougainville codes; 650 other variables are coded


Structural factors at root of conflict

‘Consensus’ among analysts that this was a factor or ‘contested but credible’ as a possible factor?

Colonialism breeds Bougainvillean resentment against specific forms of exploitation by Australia and a Bougainvillean identity resistant to rule from the capital

Contested but credible

General breakdown in law and order. Anomie in a chaotic PNG state

Contested but credible

A qualified ‘resource curse’ of copper and gold that comes to tempt Francis Ona, Sandline, the PNG state and others to violence.

Consensus

Immigration of ethnic others (especially highlanders) to Bougainville

Consensus

Proximate factors

The BCL mine displaces communities, destroys the environment, distributes royalties unjustly and opens local divisions between generations and between haves and have-nots

Consensus

Human rights abuses, arson and payback from PNG security forces

Consensus

Decisions not to renegotiate the BCL agreement in 1981 and 1988 in accord with 1974 agreement

Contested but credible

Myriad local proximate factors such as land disputes, sorcery, grabs for local political ascendency

Consensus

Key triggering incidents

Demolition of electricity pylons

Consensus

Rape/murder of nurse

Consensus

Key Warmaking Actors

PNG security forces

Consensus

Bougainville Revolutionary Army (especially Francis Ona)

Consensus

‘Skin BRA’ and raskols (semi-organized criminal groups)

Consensus

Resistance

Consensus

Sandline (almost!)

Consensus

Ted Diro and PNG political hawks

Consensus

Key Peacemaking Actors

Women leaders like Sister Lorraine Garasu

Consensus

BRA and Resistance leaders and non-aligned moderates like John Momis

Consensus

PNG leaders – Peter Barter, Moi Avei, Bill Skate, and others

Consensus

The crowd on the streets of Port Moresby backed by the PNGDF demanding termination of the Sandline contract

Consensus

Church and other local peace NGOs such as the Peace Foundation Melanesia and the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency

Consensus

Theodore Miriung and other peace zone leaders

Contested but credible

International NGOs (eg, Red Cross and Solomon Islands Christian Association)

Contested but credible

Truce and Peace Monitoring Groups

Consensus

New Zealand diplomats

Consensus

The United Nations supported by regional leaders like Billy Hilly, Alexander Downer and their diplomats

Consensus

Advisors to peace process participants (eg Anthony Regan)

Consensus

Chiefs and other leaders of traditional reconciliations

Consensus

Peacebuilding strengths

Local dialogue and thousands of reconciliations building ever-wider zones of reconciliation. Leadership for peace of women and men in networked civil society

Consensus

International peacekeepers increasing confidence to expand zones of peace and tackle new reconciliations

Consensus

Local control of the top-down peace process

Consensus

Trust and commitment built by agreement to link sequenced moves to peace tit-for tat. Innovative credible commitment architecture

Contested but credible

Reduction of rape, violence, carrying of guns and crime post-conflict except in parts of the south (enabled by reassertion of traditional village authority over young men). Domestic violence still a big problem, however.

Consensus

Reintegration of combatants into the government elite, the police, village economies, cacao production and some paid employment (though much of it not sustainable)

Contested but credible

Rapid resettlement of Bougainvillean refugees in their villages and closure of refugee camps

Consensus

Peacebuilding weaknesses

Peacekeepers leave with Me’ekamui not integrated into the peace, a large No Go Zone secured by armed roadblocks and many weapons not destroyed

Contested but credible

No Bougainville consensus achieved on how to deal with the likely re-opening of the mine

Consensus

Post-conflict international diplomacy fails to put PNG under pressure to accept that it must either persuade the people of Bougainville to vote for integration or to accept their decision for independence

Consensus

Reconciliation of Bougainville with PNG security forces and leaders, with mainland and Chinese refugees neglected

Contested but credible

Building a Bougainville state proceeds weakly. Aid floods in early when absorption capacity is low, then declines when it is most needed.

Contested but credible

Programs for youth neglected; trauma counselling energetic at first, but not sustained

Consensus

Failure to mobilise most of the highly educated Bougainville diaspora to return home to support the redevelopment of Bougainville

Consensus

Financial regulation is a disaster area

Consensus

Structural factors at root of conflict

‘Consensus’ among analysts that this was a factor or ‘contested but credible’ as a possible factor?

Colonialism breeds Bougainvillean resentment against specific forms of exploitation by Australia and a Bougainvillean identity resistant to rule from the capital

Contested but credible

General breakdown of law and order. Anomie in a chaotic PNG state

Contested but credible

A qualified ‘resource curse’ of copper and gold that comes to tempt Francis Ona, Sandline, the PNG state and others to violence

Consensus

Immigration of ethnic others (especially Highlanders) to Bougainville

Consensus

Proximate factors

The BCL mine displaces communities, destroys the environment, distributes royalties unjustly and opens local divisions between generations and between haves and have-nots

Consensus

Human rights abuses, arson and payback from PNG security forces

Consensus

Decisions not to renegotiate the BCL agreement in 1981 and 1988 in accordance with 1974 agreement

Contested but credible

Myriad local proximate factors such as land disputes, sorcery, grabs for local political ascendency

Consensus

Key triggering incidents

Demolition of electricity pylons

Consensus

Rape/murder of nurse

Consensus

Key war-making actors

PNG security forces

Consensus

Bougainville Revolutionary Army (especially Francis Ona)

Consensus

‘Skin BRA’ and raskols (semi-organised criminal groups)

Consensus

Resistance

Consensus

Sandline (almost!)

Consensus

Ted Diro and PNG political hawks

Consensus

Key peacemaking actors

Women leaders such as Sister Lorraine Garasu

Consensus

BRA and Resistance leaders and non-aligned moderates such as John Momis

Consensus

PNG leaders Peter Barter, Moi Avei, Bill Skate, and others

Consensus

The crowd on the streets of Port Moresby backed by the PNGDF demanding termination of the Sandline contract

Consensus

Church and other local peace NGOs such as the Peace Foundation Melanesia and the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency

Consensus

Theodore Miriung and other peace-zone leaders

Contested but credible

International NGOs (for example, the Red Cross and Solomon Islands Christian Association)

Contested but credible

Truce and Peace Monitoring Groups

Consensus

New Zealand diplomats

Consensus

The United Nations supported by regional leaders such as Francis Billy Hilly, Alexander Downer and their diplomats

Consensus

Advisors to peace process participants (for example, Anthony Regan)

Consensus

Chiefs and other leaders of traditional reconciliations

Consensus

Peacebuilding strengths

Local dialogue and thousands of reconciliations building ever-wider zones of reconciliation. Leadership for peace of women and men in networked civil society

Consensus

International peacekeepers increasing confidence to expand zones of peace and tackle new reconciliations

Consensus

Local control of the top-down peace process

Consensus

Trust and commitment built by agreement to link sequenced moves to peace tit for tat. Innovative credible commitment architecture

Contested but credible

Reduction of rape, violence, carrying of guns and crime post-conflict except in parts of the south (enabled by reassertion of traditional village authority over young men). Domestic violence, however, still a big problem

Consensus

Reintegration of combatants into the government elite, the police, village economies, cacao production and some paid employment (though much of it not sustainable)

Contested but credible

Rapid resettlement of Bougainvillean refugees in their villages and closure of refugee camps

Consensus

Peacebuilding weaknesses

Peacekeepers leave with Me’ekamui not integrated into the peace, a large no-go zone secured by armed roadblocks and many weapons not destroyed

Contested but credible*

No Bougainville consensus achieved on how to deal with the likely reopening of the mine

Consensus

Post-conflict international diplomacy fails to put Papua New Guinea under pressure to accept that it must either persuade the people of Bougainville to vote for integration or accept their decision for independence

Consensus

Reconciliation of Bougainville with PNG security forces and leaders, with mainland and Chinese refugees neglected

Contested but credible

Building a Bougainville state proceeds weakly. Aid floods in early when absorption capacity is low, then declines when it is most needed

Contested but credible

Programs for youth neglected; trauma counselling energetic at first, but not sustained

Consensus

Failure to mobilise most of the highly educated Bougainville diaspora to return home to support the redevelopment of Bougainville

Consensus

Financial regulation is a disaster area

Consensus

* It is not contested that these are problems, but more than one commentator remarked ‘[m]ight it not be regarded as a particular strength of the Bougainville peace process that it has proceeded without Me’ekamui’s participation, while inviting them to join in—thereby making it difficult for Me’ekamui to prevent the peace process from moving ahead’.

What structural factors were at the root of this conflict?

Ron May (1990:57) suggested that the civil war was ‘to some extent a ripple effect from the more general breakdown of law and order and challenge to the authority of the state which has characterised the recent political history of so many other parts of Papua New Guinea’ (see also Filer 1992:118). This has some similarity to the analysis of the first volume of Peacebuilding Compared on Indonesian conflicts. After the fall of President Suharto, there was a ripple effect in a breakdown of law and order that spread from one to another place in Indonesia. And this was about a condition of anomie during that period of Indonesian history, when the rules of the political game were up for grabs and a condition of normlessness prevailed. The difference between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea was that Indonesia experienced an anomic transition from a remarkably unified autocratic national society (given its size, archipelagic spread and ethnic diversity) to a remarkably unified democratic national society after six years of social and political disintegration and unusual levels of violence. Papua New Guinea, in contrast, started life in 1975 as an impressively democratic developing country that seemed in the 1960s and 1970s to be developing towards unified nationhood and coherent national institutions of law, public administration, education and democratic governance. Papua New Guinea has averted a collapse of its democracy into the kind of autocracy that Indonesia experienced under Sukarno and Suharto. But since 1980 it has been continuously a much more violent, socially disintegrative, anomic national society than it was in the decades after pacification.

Colonialism did not deal with Bougainville sensitively. ‘Bukas’ were favoured for ‘blackbirding’—for what was in many cases effective plantation slavery in other parts of Papua New Guinea and in North Queensland. We met one prominent Me’ekamui Defence Force commander who imagined that his father had been blackbirded, though given his age, it would not have been likely that even his grandfather could have been blackbirded. The point is, however, that blackbirding is part of a fabric of colonial resentment that does have a real and disturbing historical basis. Another strand of the fabric of resentment against colonialism was the arbitrary drawing of the international boundary between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. As Bougainvilleans stand on Kangu Beach and look across to the nearby Solomon Islands populated by folk racially identical to them, whose ancestors migrated to places such as Kangu Beach and Rorovana to establish the communities there, with whom they have traded for centuries, they wonder why did the ‘waitman’ put us in the same country with the ‘redskins’?

World War II caused huge suffering and loss of life among Bougainvilleans. Both sides committed terrible atrocities against Bougainvilleans who helped the other side. Some of the World War II resentments of one community being turned against another became scores to be settled in the civil war after 1988. Resentment against both sides of the imperial struggle was evident in the village in Selau where John Braithwaite lived in 1969. The men had been forced to work building the Buka airstrip by the Japanese. Each time it neared completion, American bombers would turn it into a string of craters. The Japanese tried to foil this by forcing the men to continue to work instead of fleeing the strip when the bombers came in. The young American commander of the bombers came around twice after aborted bombing runs during which the Bougainvilleans had not run from the strip as in the past. On the third pass, he bombed them as the women and children looked on in horror. When a patrol boat supplied by Australia to Papua New Guinea 46 years later fired on the village, this was again seen as a case of the waitman’s horrific war machines hailing destruction on the innocents of the village.

Colonialism was seen as bringing ‘redskins’ not only at the helm of patrol boats, but for many decades before that as workers on Australian plantations in Bougainville. Cultural clashes with mainland plantation workers were modest before the mine brought expanded numbers of mainland workers to Bougainville. But they had happened enough to connect up to a narrative of a long history of invasion and colonial exploitation. The Chinese, who Bougainvilleans viewed as commercially exploitative, had also initially been brought to work European plantations. The forging of a pan-Bougainvillean identity conceived in opposition to PNG institutions—while it had some stirrings in these resentments—did not really take off until the mine gave it one big focus. Even today, much more local identities remain more important than a Bougainvillean identity. But during the past four decades the Bougainvillean identity has become profound—and much more real than a PNG identity. This is of course now a social structural source of separatism.

We have seen that immigration of mainlanders threatened the way of life of locals and caused tensions through squatting on land and most importantly crime problems at a level that Bougainvilleans had never experienced. Not only did Bougainvilleans feel a threat to their sense of self-determination on their own land, around the mine, they felt downright unsafe. Because of this history, a new wave of migration at a much lower level is therefore a potential future threat to the peace that must be watched closely. This is the gradual inundation of Carteret Island offshore, which is requiring resettlement of 2500 Carteret Islanders on the Bougainville mainland.

What have been the proximate factors in the conflict?

Opening the Panguna mine was the crucial proximate factor in this conflict. This does not necessarily mean the Bougainville case supports the resource-curse hypothesis as formulated by Collier (2007) and others (see Regan 2003). The mine was not looted to support the start-up costs of the insurgency. It also did not extend the war by providing lootable resources for the BRA. The resource curse might have escalated the war through the agency of Sandline, who proposed a share of the post-conflict loot as payment for their services. Paradoxically, Sandline’s resource diplomacy played out to shorten the war. Some of Francis Ona’s inner circle started the war with the ambition of closing the mine forever. Ona himself started the conflict intent on getting a better deal for landowners and for Bougainville from the mine. To that extent, there was a resource curse. Moreover, once the war was under way, many Bougainville leaders—Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui included—were pushing on for independence rather than a peace deal within Papua New Guinea because they believed that even though Bougainville was tiny, they could make it fiscally viable by reopening the mine. To that extent, a resource curse was an incentive to spurn an early peace on Papua New Guinea’s terms.

Finally, and most fundamentally, we have seen that a resource curse did drive grievances among locals over equitable compensation, class conflict over job and educational opportunities, displacement of villages, environmental destruction, invasion by ‘redskins’ who were perceived as violent—and all this motivated violent resistance (Ross 2004; Regan 2003). Like the Indonesian cases of Peacebuilding Compared, the Bougainville case illustrates that there is no structural inevitability of a resource curse. Today, this is clearer than ever. Divisions within the Bougainville and PNG polities over if and how to reopen the mine could trigger new conflict. On the other hand, strong, listening leadership and just handling of the issue could deliver Bougainville consensus over a mine reopening that would accelerate educational and employment opportunities, fund health services and other drivers of development and begin to clean up some of the environmental destruction from past mining. If that could be accomplished, it would consolidate peace.

The slapdash micro-management of land-title issues from the 1960s by the PNG Administration, the Land Titles Commission and BCL opened up great internal divisions among landowners about who was responsible for the disaster the mine inflicted on their lives and who would collect the windfall from the cash it rained. This war started as a conflict among landowners where a frustrated, aggrieved and in some cases greedy younger group resorted to violence to push aside their elders and make unrealistic demands on the company. By unrealistic, we mean that the company would rather close than pay what the New Panguna Landowners’ Association asked, which is what it did. It was also unrealistic in the sense that the closure of the mine could be something the rest of Papua New Guinea would just accept. The leaders of Papua New Guinea at the time had no political choice but to use all means possible to get the mine reopened. Even today, after all that has happened, many senior Panguna landowners do not understand the economic realities of what a mine can and cannot deliver. The root cause of this situation is the poor quality of dialogue held with the landowners in the two decades before the war broke out.

Because the mine brought such a huge amount of public money for the development of Papua New Guinea, it was never a project any government would say no to, whatever the local landowners thought. Given the sheer size of the mine, the hugeness of the physical impact on land that was many people’s lives, the unmanageability of the environmental impact downstream given this magnitude, the geography and the state of the art of environmental management technology in the 1960s and 1970s, it was always going to be the case that many landowners would be devastated. By the late 1980s, pipeline technology for tailings disposal had improved and when the war closed the mine a pipeline project was 70 per cent complete (Vernon 2005:269). The landowners would be shattered by what happened to their land once those powerful hoses started blowing away the soil from under their trees and villages and those trees and houses began to topple into the huge hole where their lives were once lived. Even very sophisticated Bougainvilleans, like their member in the National Parliament, Sir Paul Lapun, did not understand the hugeness of the hole and the impact that was being agreed to in advance of the land being blown away for that hole. A dialogue with locals was needed that comprehended the full sadness of what was bound to happen to their land.

What was not inevitable was that there would be deep, murderous, internal division in how to respond to it. What was not inevitable was the injustice (and slapdash arbitrariness) in how the financial compensation for the tragedy of the land was distributed. What was not inevitable was that there would be a civil war. An honest, respectful dialogue starting in the 1960s about the scale of the environmental tragedy of the blowing away of the land and about why that was politically inevitable were what was needed to avoid the war. Compensation for local landowners was then needed that was more proportionate to the devastation their lives were about to suffer. Then careful collaborative investigation was needed about the nature of the ownership of the land by matrilineal clan lineages. Instead, what happened was that individual men or women who stepped forward and said they were landowners were duly recorded as individual title-holders as long as some community members who were at a particular meeting did not disagree—if indeed they understood what was going on given the language challenges of the communication (Regan 2007). In a number of cases, according to Regan (2007), senior men listed as title-holders favoured particular nieces and their families over others, opening up divisions within lineages.

Yes, poor environmental management was also a proximate factor in the conflict, in that fewer people might have had their fields and fisheries devastated downstream with better environmental management. The environmental devastation could have been much less, and if it had been, some people would have been less angry, but there still would have been widespread anger.

The fact that this was an Australian mine connected resentment over Australian colonialism to this string of acts of micro-mismanagement in the 1960s and early 1970s. The failure to have the kind of just and locally attuned dialogue that might have reconciled people to the mine was a factor that fuelled this conflict. But there were later missed opportunities to undo some of this damage in a way that might have saved the peace. We have seen that John Momis believes that if the Chan government had allowed the agreed renegotiation of the mine agreement that fell due in 1981 to proceed, the war could have been prevented. After all, the very reason a seven-year renegotiation cycle was provided for was to monitor and head off any escalation of conflict. Even the next seven-year renegotiation due in 1988 might not have been too late.

A less retributive form of policing than the human rights abuses and burning of villages indulged in by the riot police and then the military might also have averted escalation to civil war. The PNG security forces should have been capable of seeing the risk of resistance breaking out all over the powder keg that was Bougainville in 1988–89. And they should have seen that if this happened they lacked the logistics and the boots on the ground to put this down. More fundamentally, this was a problem of their policing model being that of a militia as opposed to a community policing model that solved problems by listening to communities and to the solutions they proposed.

We have seen that the proximate cause of conflict in a particular area could have been raskolism by a particular group, sorcery by a particular individual, levelling directed at new educated elites, using the war as a pretext to solve an old land dispute or just to steal cars and other property from a village more wealthy than one’s own.

It is often difficult to say whether armed conflict is more about greed than grievance (Collier 2007). Many BRA informants alleged the Resistance fought for PNG money. These do not seem plausible allegations in terms of most Resistance fighters, whose support from Papua New Guinea was barely sufficient to maintain them as a credible fighting force, let alone support them to live well. There were more credible allegations that one senior Resistance military commander was on the take. PNGDF sources who make these allegations dismiss the analysis that the Resistance in general was motivated by greed.

A number of people we interviewed alleged that many of the Me’ekamui hold-outs were holding out as a money-making strategy. It was alleged one Me’ekamui commander had been paid K50 000 to allow the 2007 election to proceed peacefully in his area. Roadblocks were used to collect payments to pass from certain kinds of people (generally not poor locals). Payment was also solicited and paid for what was hoped would be the permanent dismantling of roadblocks. Some Me’ekamui leaders were seeking to commercialise reconciliations, indicating that they would participate in reconciliation ceremonies only if they were paid unusually large amounts of cash. As with our discussion of the resource-curse hypothesis, some greed is parasitic on a considerable number of grievances that were the primary proximate factors in this conflict.

What were the key triggering incidents?

The demolition of the electricity pylons on the road to the mine in 1988 followed by shooting at the workers who arrived to repair it triggered escalation. It put BCL onto an exit footing and therefore put the PNG security forces on emergency footing.

One senior and credible informant in the Bougainville Government had the view that the war would not have occurred if the nurse had not been raped and murdered in 1988, though he was the only one we heard express a view as decisive as this.

BRA military commander Sam Kauona (2001:85) expressed it this way:

One of the causes of the crisis was outsiders—non-Bougainvilleans from other parts of Papua New Guinea—raping and terrorising our women. Many people from my area in Central Bougainville joined the struggle following the brutal murder of one of our women at the back of Aropa Plantation by plantation workers. People said, ‘That is enough: we have to join now—we have to support our women.’

At the very least, this rape/murder triggered an important phase in the escalation of the conflict.

Who were the key war-making and peacebuilding actors?

Neither side planned or wanted a war with the other. Francis Ona was the key war-maker on the Bougainville side. When violence broke out against ‘redskins’ after the murder of the nurse, Ona had no plan, but ‘rode the emotion’ by calling the young men out (Ona aide interview). He became a magnet for people with various grievances, particularly about the sharing of benefits from the mine and its environmental impact, and others far from the mine who wanted independence. Ona embraced them all as they all contributed to building a wave of resistance to the state on the crest of which Ona was able to ride as a uniquely big big-man in the history of Bougainville. Ona was a man with a large ego who rode a wave of anti-PNG, anti-BCL, anti-Australian emotion to become very famous—indeed revered—for the boldness of his resistance.

The other key war-making actors are clear enough: Ted Diro and his hawkish following in Port Moresby, the PNG security forces, the Resistance and skin BRA and other raskol elements causing conflict by pretending to be BRA or the Resistance. And of course Sandline were paid to be mercenaries, but did not manage to get a shot off to earn their millions. We often make the mistake in writing about this war, including in this book, of reifying ‘the Resistance’ as an army backed by Papua New Guinea fighting the BRA. The reality of ‘the Resistance’ for many villages was a home guard that eschewed offensive operations against the BRA; their ‘Resistance’ was an expedient to defend themselves after strict neutrality proved difficult to sustain when confronted with marauding ‘BRAskols’ and assassinations of peace leaders. Much the same was true of many BRA elements.

It is hard to overestimate what a difficult thing it must have been for Sam Kauona, Joseph Kabui, Ishmael Toroama, James Tanis and so many less senior BRA figures to take their different fork in the road from Francis Ona. These leaders still spoke of Ona with respect, even reverence, in 2006 and 2007. Ishmael Toroama does not figure often in our text, but he mattered greatly. He was a leader men followed. He was an extraordinarily effective insurgency commander who decimated PNGDF patrols again and again. He had personal courage that few human beings have. He captured the very first PNGDF automatic weapons by attacking two armed soldiers with a crossbow; he killed the first with an arrow at close quarters, then shot the second with the gun of the first. Without Toroama’s backing, Kabui could never have become President of the ABG. We asked his successor, James Tanis, what was the contribution to the peace he was most proud of. His answer was persuading Ona not to kill John Momis when Ona captured him in 1997 and ordered Tanis to kill him. Tanis believed Momis was a respected leader who was vital for persuading moderates to join the BRA in what ultimately became a national unity grand coalition government (dominated by former BRA) that held together the peace. Momis and Ona reconciled and went on the radio together urging all Bougainvilleans to reconcile as they had done (Tanis 2002b). Ironically, three years after this interview with James Tanis, he lost a tough presidential election campaign against John Momis just as this book went to press.

Most PNG Ministers for Bougainville Affairs made major contributions to the peace: Peter Barter, Moi Avei, Sam Akoitai, Michael Somare and Mekere Morauta (though the important contributions of the last were as prime minister). There were also big contributions by other PNG Prime Ministers, especially Bill Skate, who backed Barter’s plan and Theodore Miriung’s legacy. Skate, according to one senior PNG official was Papua New Guinea’s most corrupt prime minister, while Sir Julius Chan was its most hard-working one. Yet ‘Skate was the first prime minister to go into the bush in Bougainville. He was respected in Bougainville.[1] He was seen as sincere in how he listened to people. He was a good listener. Sir Julius Chan was into monologue.’ The crowd on the streets of Port Moresby made history in 1997 protesting the Sandline contract in a way that utterly destabilised Prime Minister Chan, opening the path for the new Prime Minister Skate to find common cause with the BRA and the PNGDF.

PNG public servants such as Chief Secretary, Robert Igara, and Director of Bougainville Affairs, Bill Dihm, made major backroom contributions. Many outstanding New Zealand diplomats also worked especially effectively in conspiring with Barter in Port Moresby for peace, with the backing of their Foreign Minister, Don McKinnon. Many equally anonymous Australian diplomats were effective in quietly supporting the New Zealanders. Senior Australian military officers in Bougainville—unlike some in Canberra—were also impressive in the way they followed in the peacekeeping pattern set by the passionate and culturally deferential leadership of New Zealand TMG Commander Brigadier Roger Mortlock. Then there were the leaders of humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross (whose family and village packs helped survival, who were hated by the PNGDF for insisting on rights under international humanitarian law in the care centres and distrusted by the BRA because they believed the Red Cross worked with Australian spies) and UNICEF (whose school packs helped get education moving again, including in the no-go zone). The UNDP and the United Nations more broadly were also very important in getting behind peace and development, including through support for reconciliation logistics. Noel Sinclair and his successors played vital political roles as heads of UNOMB. Anthony Regan is one advisor to the parties whose mighty behind-the-scenes contributions to the peace on the Bougainville side are widely recognised. But there were other very important advisors such as Ted Wolfers on the PNG side, Ian Prentice, Leo White and Mark Plunkett and many other fine civil servants.

All of these individuals were major contributors to the top-down peace. But we have seen that the big thing about Bougainville was that the top-down accomplishment was built on the foundations of a bottom-up accomplishment. From 1990, female and male elders and church leaders were going out into conflict areas persuading their young men to down weapons and help create their village as an island of civility. In one of Peter Reddy’s 2004 interviews, a former guerrilla platoon leader explained how his sister urged him to participate in the Arawa Peace Conference of 1994: ‘In our culture, you are supposed to listen to your sister. If she gives you advice, you are supposed to take it’ (Reddy 2006:226). Because such large swathes of the people had deserted their war under such bottom-up influences, the BRA leaders had to take the top-down peace seriously.

Many were assassinated in promoting reconciliation—not just high-profile peacemakers such as Theodore Miriung and John Bika. Less prominent individuals who were killed included three members of the Peace Foundation Melanesia doing their work to promote restorative justice as a path to peace. Peacemakers from the church were also assassinated. A peace leader such as Sister Lorraine Garasu took countless risks with her life and continues to do so as she works to expand the peace into the no-go zones. She struggles for funding in that work, saying she is too tired to keep filling out grant applications. That should be one of the lessons of Bougainville. Because it is a peace erected so fundamentally on the reconciliatory work of Sister Lorraines, a Sister Lorraine might have been given a living allowance and a car so that she could be Sister Lorraine. Sister Lorraine is exhausted so much of the time because travel in Bougainville is exhausting without a vehicle. No grant applications, no accountability, no evaluation reports—just trust and a ceremony in which the car is handed over and she makes public commitments on the peace work she will use the car to advance. An international discretionary fund freed from accountability constraints that a foreign ambassador in Papua New Guinea could go to and say simply, ‘Please buy Sister Lorraine a car and give her a living allowance’, would add greatly to capacity for many outstanding individuals to lead peace from the bottom up. Individual peacekeepers—privates or non-commissioned officers from Vanuatu, for example—count alongside the countless Bougainvilleans who have contributed locally to the bottom-up peace.

SL_HC_LD1.jpg

Figure 9.1 Hilary Charlesworth, Sister Lorraine Garasu and Leah Dunn, Chabai 2007

Photo: John Braithwaite

President Kabui saw the Solomon Islands Council of Churches as an important contributor to the peace through both its mediation in the Solomon Islands and its lobbying of the Pacific Council of Churches, then the World Council of Churches to internationalise the peace effort.

It seems invidious to list the particular names we have in the preceding paragraphs—invidious because there are so many other names that are equally worthy. Yet it is important to illustrate the diversity of kinds of individual leadership in a bottom-up–top-down peace such as Bougainville’s. The same invidiousness arises in nominating Bougainvilleans for deeply deserved peace prizes—something we have done in the cause of getting the story out to the northern hemisphere of why they should take notice of the Bougainville accomplishment. One cynical interviewee, who was a major contributor to the peace, said ‘peace prizes are a menace to peace’. By this he meant that by making celebrities of one or two individuals when there are in fact thousands who deserve that praise, two bad things happen. One is that some individuals can become self-promoters rather than the needed self-effacing collaborators for peace who praise others but not themselves. The second is that peace activists who think that those singled out for prizes are less deserving than others can disparage their work, even to the point where securing funding becomes harder for them as a result—something that has happened in Bougainville. We wonder if a different kind of peace prize might better serve the diffused reality of leadership of the most effective peace processes that is so evident in this case. This would be to award the prize to all the individuals who contributed to the peace. This could be a peace prize awarded to ‘The people of Bougainville and its friends who worked for the Bougainville peace’. Instead of investing in airfares for winners, prize banquets for suits, cash prizes and lumps of silver, a cash contribution to funding a ‘Bougainville Peace Prize Museum’ as a tourist attraction might be more constructive, with that start-up funding matched by admission charges to tourists, donations from peacekeepers and other internationals who served the peace, and from local businesses (and the state), which might see economic benefits from such a tourist attraction. The philosophy of a Peace Prize Museum could be to represent the very diversity of the types of cooperative contributions to the peace that is one lesson the world should learn from a peace such as Bougainville’s.

The Australian Government fits the common pattern of an actor that contributed to the war and to the peace. Its colonial laws and policies allowed disastrous terms for the construction of the mine. It supplied helicopters to the PNGDF on condition that they not be used as gun-ships in Bougainville, when leaders knew they would be so used. And it supplied much more that destroyed lives. It was only after 1993 that Australia forcefully applied pressure on Papua New Guinea to opt for a peaceful solution, though from that time it did so persistently and constructively. Anthony Regan has an intriguing way of viewing the paradox of the failure of the regional power to take the lead until after the peace was largely sealed:

In retrospect, it seems clear that Australia’s diffidence about its role contributed to the positive outcomes of the whole process. Had Australia sought to play the more expansive and agenda-setting role (directed particularly at accelerating the pace of the process) [in particular, Australia wanted to exit the Peace Monitoring Group much earlier] that some key Australian figures would have preferred, it is likely that there would have been considerable resistance to the intervention. There would have been far less room for the unfolding local dynamics that permitted the resolution of tensions and reconciliation of differences. (Regan 2005a:24)

Peacebuilding strengths and weaknesses

Local ownership

Perhaps the greatest strength of peacebuilding in Bougainville has been its local ownership. New Zealand leadership of the international intervention did not impose solutions; it provided a secure environment in which factions had to reach their own accommodations (Regan 2010). The intervention facilitated and supported locals who set the agendas. AusAID funded independent advisors to all parties involved in negotiation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. But it did this only because of requests for support from specific parties for specific advisors they trusted (Regan 2010). Distinctive strengths we have discussed—such as the bottom-up restorative justice resilience of traditional reconciliation and the linked sequencing of credible commitments—did not arise from any grand plan of outside state builders. They evolved dynamically out of conversations among the main factions—each step a response to what happened at the last step to peace. That is not to say it was all incoherent incrementalism. Far from it. Some of the incremental steps were agreements to craft encompassing constitutional designs—indeed designs that linked coherent constitutional re-engineering to wider aspects of the political settlement. That is to say that it was an accomplishment of a fairly deliberatively democratic process, not the imposition of any mastermind of either a Washington neo-liberal consensus or a socialist plan. Outsiders contributed greatly when they were asked, and mostly when they were given a brief grounded in a deliberated consensus of locals.

In these respects, Bougainville makes an interesting contrast with Timor-Leste. Some senior Australian police, for example, take a lesson to be learned from Timor-Leste as that ‘too many cooks spoiled the broth’. International advisers from one nation’s police would come in to tell the Timor-Leste police in a particular district to do X. Then another nation’s police would be rotated in and would say do not do X, do Y. Reform went in circles, without coherence. So the lesson learned for application in the Solomon Islands was that one nation (Australia!) should impose the coherence on police reform. In contrast, Bougainvilleans took the lesson from their peace to be reliance on a deliberated consensus of locals to secure coherence. Be wary of outsiders (especially Australia!) who disrupt coherence by dominating local voices and rushing to meet timetables before local consensus is sorted. Make sure you draw on the resources of many international fonts of advice and technical assistance and support, because if one of them (especially Australia!) offends key factions in respect of some arena of governance, it is possible to turn to another and ask them to specialise their assistance and support on a particular topic (for example, New Zealand with police reform). Keep the internationals on tap, not on top. Of course, Australia is not the greatest villain that is the subject of this counter-analysis, just the greatest villain in the South Pacific. The United States is most criticised for this globally. What the Bougainvillean might say reflecting on Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia is that the mistake in those places is allowing one international player to so dominate all others that if it loses the confidence of local factions, confidence in the entire peace process collapses. Demands grow for the international intervention to end before locals are ready to trust the credibility of one another’s commitments without internationals standing beside them to support their commitments (Fortna 2008). The Bougainville experience would be that you need a separation of multiple international powers in peacebuilding to help locals design a coherent and legitimate separation of local powers.

Women and peacemaking

The best-known international strength of Bougainville’s peacebuilding has been the engagement of individual women leaders in going out into the bush to persuade their young men to join the peace and organisations that have played a leadership role in peacebuilding such as the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom, the Bougainville Inter-Church Women’s Forum and the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency (Saovana-Spriggs 2007:186–200; Sirivi and Havini 2004). Women’s contributions to peace have not, however, been mirrored in the post-conflict political arrangements. Women argued for 12 reserved seats in the new Constitution of an Autonomous Bougainville, but achieved only three (Saovona-Spriggs 2007:106). In the 2005 election, the only women elected were to the three reserved seats—out of 41.

The strength of women’s contributions to the peacebuilding is part of a wider pattern of the strengths of webs of civil-society contributions (Lederach 2005) by chiefs, churches and, more recently, youth leaders. There was impressive male leadership in these areas to match the female leadership. This strength at the bottom is not matched at the very top, where there has been limited work on reconciliations in Port Moresby, as discussed in the next section.

Feast and famine in state-building support

After armed conflict, humanitarian and development assistance tends to rush in as the peace descends and during the first few years of peace and then begins to dry up. This was very much the pattern in Bougainville, which was a flavour of the month at the end of the 1990s. Australian aid was maintained at the same absolute level of about $20 million a year throughout the first decade of the peace—coincidentally, about the same level it averaged per annum in military support for Papua New Guinea during the war. But the contributions of New Zealand and most other significant donors reduced greatly during the post-conflict years. The empirical evidence is that aid is more effective in the years after those first few years of peace, when absorption capacity is improved (Collier et al. 2003:175). This is so even though there is a good case for ‘peace dividend’ projects early on, which fund small projects with a quick dividend (rebuilding classrooms or repairing a bridge, for example) for communities that supported the peace process. The other side of this coin was the creation of expectations that could not be sustained that any ‘good idea’ for a peace-related project would cause money to flow and any ‘good idea’ for a workshop might deliver attendance fees for those who showed up.[2] One of the reasons for a gradual build-up of development assistance after some early peace dividend projects—as opposed to an early gush of support that dries up—is that early expectations might be created that while peace has dividends, those dividends are things locals must create and earn. The ABG today sometimes has problems getting citizen participation in a reform because it cannot afford to pay them. More fundamentally, it is a mistake to pay citizens to be active citizens because of the vast psychological evidence that extrinsic incentives crowd out intrinsic commitment (Frey and Jurgen 2000). For example, if you reward children with money for getting good marks at school, you crowd out their intrinsic commitment to education because they persuade themselves that the reason they study is for money. There are also dangers when inequalities between certain elites and have-nots are a source of the conflict that a steady flow of donor pay-offs to those same elites during peacebuilding can rekindle the resentments that fuelled the conflict (Regan 2005a).

Collier et al. (2003:177) also argue that another neglected strategy is strengthening technical capacity by financing the return of skilled members of the diaspora. This is not always true, however, in cases such as Afghanistan, where disasporas came in on fat contracts and returned to the West when their contracts ended. There is not a large Bougainvillean diaspora overseas, but across Papua New Guinea there is, especially in the civil service in Port Moresby, because of the superior education of Bougainvilleans historically. ‘Levelling’ elements of the BRA concerned about growing inequality in Bougainville also targeted many of the educated elite within Bougainville early in the war (Regan 2005b); many fled to new jobs on the mainland then and have never returned.

This was a long war during which schools were mostly destroyed and government services were withdrawn from the province for long periods. Indeed, there were years after the war ended when schools were not rebuilt or funded in the no-go zone. Basically a whole generation of Bougainvilleans missed out on an education during their childhood. Bougainville had benefited from a superior Marist education system during most of the twentieth century. Then it jumped further ahead of the rest of Papua New Guinea because of the large direct educational investment by BCL and the indirect investment as a result of Bougainville leaders using royalty income to improve education. It was the only PNG province that achieved universal primary school education in the 1980s (Regan 2007), though it did suffer from limited places in secondary schools. A huge compensatory adult education program to secure basics such as literacy and numeracy remains unfinished in Bougainville. The burnt-out main hospital in Bougainville, in Arawa, remains a slightly rebuilt shadow of what it once was (see generally Boege 2008).

Indigenous restorative justice

The weakness of the total collapse of the state in Bougainville created a space in which the strengths of traditional Bougainvillean reconciliation without police, courts and prisons could be revived and could shine (Boege 2006:10). The Bougainville Constitutional Commission put it this way:

As Bougainville emerged from the long years of conflict there was no effective policing, almost no courts and no prisons. Notwithstanding that, Bougainville remains one of the safest communities in PNG. This is largely a credit to traditional chiefs and other traditional leaders who accepted the burden of maintaining a community based justice system during (and after) the conflict. (Quoted in Boege 2008:24)

The revival has not been easy in areas that had lost these traditions even before the war, and in some areas educated elites opposed the revival of traditions that would re-empower chiefs who they regarded as uneducated. One informant said reconciliation to solve problems without courts was building the kind of trust necessary for a small-scale village economy to get moving again. Post-conflict Bougainville is much more crime free than it was during the conflict and in the decade before the conflict. Indeed, it is one of the safest places in Papua New Guinea. Theft is particularly low in Bougainville, with damage or destruction of the property of parties believed to have caused a grievance being a bigger problem in the police statistics we saw than theft. Adultery, marriage break-up, land disputes, sorcery and ‘false statements against another person’ are each more common kinds of incidents that the police attend than common theft![3] That does not mean the country has returned to the extraordinarily crime-free society that it was in accounts from the 1960s and in the older anthropological literature. Home-brew—strong alcohol brewed from tropical fruits—is a scourge introduced as a result of the blockade (of beer) during the crisis that continues to inflict great damage on the social fabric. Home-brew contributes to domestic violence, which is universally observed to persist at a much higher level than was the case before the war.

Nevertheless, a 2004 victims-of-crime survey found low levels of crime in the two larger towns, Arawa and Buka, compared with other PNG urban centres. People were three times as likely to believe that crime had decreased than to believe it had increased in the past year (National Research Institute 2005). No incidents of killing were reported among the families of the 275 respondents and only one sexual assault. These results could have been much worse, however, had the survey been conducted further south in the Wisai area, where armed warlords were still clashing and there had been many murders in recent years. Siwai and Buin in the south and west are also high violence and homicide areas where serious progress on reconciliation of major schisms left over from the war among the likes of Damien Koike, Thomas Tari and Noah Musingku began seriously only after 2008. Violence there has been associated with these schisms and with the retention of large arsenals of weapons.

We asked many informants why there was so much rape during the war when Bougainville had been, according to the anthropological evidence, a society in which rape was extremely rare. The answer fairly consistently was that Bougainville was a society where the chiefs and female elders educated young men to respect women. The war allowed them to rebel against—even put themselves above—the authority of the chiefs, and order chiefs and female landowners around. Some commanders who wanted their boys to follow their authority also encouraged this; rape was sometimes a weapon in asserting their power. One strength of Bougainville peacebuilding was that these young men mostly were returned to the guidance of their chiefs and to habits of respecting women and listening to them. Rape and violence have fallen as a result, though domestic violence remains a huge problem among traumatised families. The police diagnosis of crime survey evidence is that crime has fallen most where traditional authority has been most effectively reasserted. Even when the war was at its worst, the moral code of respect could still break through to transform abuse. This is one mother’s story from our interview notes:

One of the BRA fighters let word out that he was going to take her daughter for himself. She was told he was coming with two other armed men. She arranged her nine children in a circle to pray with the targeted daughter beside her. The children said: ‘What will we do?’ Their mother said, ‘Just think of Jesus.’ When he [the BRA soldier] arrived, the mother greeted him in ‘a spirit of Christian kindness’, called him ‘my son’ with care in her voice. He said, ‘I suppose you have heard that I want your daughter.’ She said, ‘My son. You think because there is no law and order you can take what you want. But there is law and order. It is in my heart and my children’s hearts and it is there in your heart too. The war has not destroyed it in your heart.’ He turned his gun upside down with the barrel grinding around and around in the earth, pensive. And said very well he will go and wished them peace. When the PNGDF attacked them two weeks later, this BRA man came around to warn them and help them pack up their most important things to make their escape. ‘He was transformed.’ (Fieldwork notes, Arawa, April 2006)

Still, there remains a warning sign in the will of young men to be in charge of chiefs during the war. Bougainville needs a youth policy and a bigger place in civil and political society for youth leaders. That worry was palpable on the roadblocks for years after the conflict ended, where many fourteen to sixteen year olds who had never fought in the war occupied a post-conflict spoiler niche.

Strengths and weaknesses in infrastructure support

The project funded by the Australian Government for upgrading and maintaining Bougainville’s main trunk road, in which the international contractor is required to do the work by developing Bougainville maintenance teams and contractors along the route, has been moderately successful. The workforce for the project has mostly comprised hundreds, even thousands of ex-combatants over time, according to the contractor, to reintegrate them while building a sustainable local infrastructure upgrading and maintenance capacity. Yet trade will not fully flourish in Bougainville until many more bridges are rebuilt and the kind of coastal shipping service it enjoyed before the war is restored (Weeks 1999). While there has been some shocking waste and fraud in AusAID-funded combatant reintegration programs, we code this overall as a strength of the Bougainville peace in comparative terms. The Parliament of Bougainville is heavily populated by ex-combatants. Reconciliation ceremonies between Resistance and BRA fighters who have been brought together to form the majority of the Bougainville police have been remarkably successful. Men who once killed and tortured each other now seem to work together well without this past overwhelming them. One cannot expect a police force comprising men who often continue to suffer post-traumatic stress and who have completely missed out on their education to be one of the best one could find. But in all the circumstances of its history and composition, it is progressing well. Most ex-combatants have been successfully reintegrated into their old village economies, which are providing expanding opportunities for cash cropping of cocoa as well as subsistence agriculture.

Corruption

It is difficult to assess the level of corruption in Bougainville. Electoral Commission officials during the 2007 PNG elections saw vote buying in Bougainville, but much less than in the PNG Highlands. We were certainly told stories of corruption—some of quite serious concern at cabinet level. Money politics from foreign interests appears to be involved in a worrying way with access to Bougainville’s valuable logging and fish resources. Still, we have coded corruption ‘low’ compared with other post-conflict cases. We accept PNG Police and National Intelligence Organisation informal assessments from 2006 and 2007 that corruption is less than in most of Papua New Guinea and less than in the Solomon Islands—in particular with less police corruption in Bougainville. Post-conflict, it is certainly less than we see today in the other regional cases of separatist wars: Aceh and West Papua.

Exemplary peacekeeping

The discipline of the TMG and PMG, their empowering of Bougainvilleans as the real players of the peace process, their displacement of rumour with quality information about the peace and their food and music were among a long list of strengths. The consensus Bougainvillean view that their only failing was not staying long enough, or not staying until the no-go zone was dismantled and the Me’ekamui weapons destroyed, is hard to evaluate. The reality is that President Kabui still had a respectful, if mutually distrustful, relationship with his fellow clansman from Panguna, Francis Ona, and he saw Ona’s weapons as an insurance policy against Papua New Guinea refusing to honour the terms of the peace process. Sam Kauona shared this attitude. One commentator remarked that ‘the MDF [Me’ekamui Defence Force] retaining weapons also became a reason (or excuse?) for the BRA and BRF [Resistance] to retain weapons, so as to ensure that the MDF did not have a monopoly of weaponry’. When Bougainville elites were interested in drawing out the full completion of weapons disposal over so many years, it was asking a lot to expect peacekeepers who were needed elsewhere in the world to hang in for so long. On the other hand, one commentator remarked that it was perhaps not a coincidence that the localised conflict in the south developed ‘just after the UNOMB left’. A senior Australian intelligence official dissented from the Bougainville consensus: ‘One reason Bougainville was such a successful peace operation was that our military was not allowed to become part of the problem. That was partly because they were not there for too long.’ We then put it to him that armed roadblocks remained a major impediment to peace, trade and economic development (including tourism). We asked might it not have been better to keep a small, unarmed peacekeeping presence in Bougainville until locals negotiated the closure of the roadblocks. Then if local leaders persistently failed to close them, it would have been an option to move back a small contingent of, say, 60 armed peacekeepers to disarm the roadblocks. He replied:

The military don’t do things with 60 guys. [He went on to explain that just to keep one military helicopter in the air takes something approaching that number of people, especially on the logistics side.][4] External help often doesn’t help. The CIA term is ‘blowback’. Action so often produces an unpredictable reaction that makes things worse. Going in can complicate things for the locals. They ultimately have to work it out for themselves. It is risky for outsiders trying to resolve disputes among multiple big-men or warlords. As in Afghanistan, you don’t understand well enough who is playing you off against who. You can exacerbate local problems. (Australian intelligence interview)

It is also hard to judge whether the failure of the Bougainville police to go in and arrest the young men on the roadblocks and to arrest Noah Musingku for his financial crimes (because Musingku’s men are armed with M-16s) have been mistakes or another positive example of Melanesian patience in ‘making peace by peaceful means’ (ABG interview). The roadblocks are much less of a problem than they were. That does not mean they might not repeatedly come back in the context of the continuing law-enforcement vacuum when young men have guns. Well-armed police making arrests certainly sounds better than tacitly approving the breaking open of the containers with the weapons captured by the BRA at Kangu Beach, which then fall into the hands of Thomas Tari’s Bougainville Freedom Fighters, who secretly pass some of those weapons on to local police (without the formal approval of the President or the Police Commissioner—though probably with the tacit approval of the President)! Doing nothing with armed roadblocks is risky. All options are risky. Still, we accept this Australian intelligence assessment that local leaders will be in the best position to judge what options are least risky. One option local leaders will be best at assessing is whether they should be asking for international armed assistance to enforce the law against men with guns. Bougainville is in a trap of its own history here. It would be destabilising—and contrary to PNG Government policy—to have armed PNG forces come in to disarm roadblocks. And most of the people of Bougainville, including their President, are deeply committed to their police securing peace by peaceful means so they do not become like the PNG Police of 1988. But the paradox of state solicitation of peace by peaceful means is that states accomplish this more effectively when they are seen as controlling a monopoly of force that they are willing to use in extremis. Yet even without this image of invincibility, the ABG, by holding back on armed response in the final year of the Kabui presidency and during the Tanis presidency, has opened up spaces for reconciliations that are proceeding among the warring armed factions of the no-go zone and other areas of the south.

JosephKabui.jpg

Figure 9.2 President Joseph Kabui pictured speaking at the Peacebuilding Conference organised by the Peacebuilding Compared project, the Buka Open Campus of the University of Papua New Guinea and the ABG on the occasion of the second anniversary of the ABG, June 2007

Photo: Leah Dunn

We have seen that these problems have in turn allowed a failure of law enforcement against financial crime—particularly by Noah Musingku. Micro-finance in Bougainville is crippled and is failing utterly to make the contribution it should be making to the economic redevelopment of the island.

Failure of international consensus building on honouring the referendum

A bigger weakness of peacebuilding in Bougainville has been the failure to build international consensus to honour the referendum that has been promised as part of a UN-sanctioned peace agreement. Regional leaders and diplomats in Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand and UN leaders in New York are showing zero leadership towards international pressure on Papua New Guinea that it must either persuade the people of Bougainville that they will be better off in Papua New Guinea or accept the consequences of the failure to persuade them. This preventive diplomacy to head off predictable conflict cries out to be done. With Port Moresby doing so little to persuade Bougainvilleans that they will be better off in Papua New Guinea, Bougainvilleans will be likely to vote for independence. Then if the PNG Parliament votes it down, guns could come out of boxes, guns could come back from the Solomon Islands and warlords could once again have a large following.

Delay in Bougainville consensus building on the future of the mine

A domestic consensus on how to manage the future of the mine is also an obstacle. There is considerable consensus within the Bougainville political elite that the mine should be opened to secure Bougainville’s economic future. But there is also considerable opposition from the people, especially in Panguna and Central Bougainville generally. Among those who support opening the mine, there are those who think that it is better to go with BCL—‘the devil we know’—which has the existing rights, and simply negotiate a better deal with them. Other members of the Bougainville elite have been picked off by Canadian, Chinese, Israeli, South African, Korean and Australian companies to seek their support for mine redevelopment. This poses a large risk to the integrity of the government. President Kabui received K20 000 from the Canadian company Invincible for his 2005 election campaign; in 2008, Kabui supported Invincible receiving a very broad mining licence. There are hugely divisive issues to settle here about which operator, if any, to choose, with what environmental controls, on how broad a lease, with what kind of local ownership, what kind of distribution of taxes and royalties between landowners and non-landowning Bougainvilleans. A more principled, transparent process was needed for putting the mining options to the people of Bougainville than that advanced by President Kabui’s government. His successor as President, James Tanis, has been genuinely open to listening to the diverse and conflicting positions of his people in a new bottom-up attempt to forge a consensus on the future of the mine. This is a source of hope for the future of the country, particularly if the incoming president, John Momis, is able to build on this work in 2011.

A grand architecture of peace on humble foundations

Ultimately, peace in Bougainville came from a coalition of moderate Bougainvilleans from the BRA and supporters of Papua New Guinea, with early movers being village-level peacemakers on both sides, unifying an expanding coalition for peace. This coalition of moderates then negotiated as one for a compromise political settlement with Papua New Guinea.

Twelve years on, there have been no major violations of the Burnham truce and Lincoln cease-fire. As TMG Chief Negotiator, Rhys Puddicombe (2001:63), put the accomplishment, ‘At that time [1997–98], I think all groups expected the truce to collapse, like previous cease-fires. Francis Ona was convinced that the peace process would fail without him.’ There had been quite a history of previous peace initiatives. We count 11 pan-Bougainville peace initiatives discussed above (plus many local agreements—with the Buka leaders, in Selau, North Nasioi, for example) that had preceded Burnham I.

Like the peace in Aceh—which was another remarkable turnaround—in Bougainville, one of the striking things we have seen about the peace is how many people have made large contributions to it. One of those people who we have not singled out above is Colonel Bob Breen (2001a), then of the Australian Army. He makes the profound point for reluctant national contributors to peace operations that the experience of being a peacekeeper in Bougainville was a character-strengthening experience and a transformative life experience for many young Australians. The peace gave deeper meaning to the lives of many young Australians, New Zealanders, Fijians and ni-Vanuatu peace monitors who we interviewed. The Bougainville peace was not only good for Bougainville; it was good for Australia. Australia learnt important things from New Zealand in Bougainville. More fundamentally, it absorbed some of the peacebuilding character and courage from what New Zealanders would call the mana of many Bougainvillean women and men who lived peace in their being and their deeds. There were plenty of ruthless, exploitative Bougainville murderers as well, of course. Yet Australian hearts were also changed by seeing them brought to be something better through the fathomless spirituality of Bougainvillean reconciliation. Some will see this as a romantic reading. Peacebuilding is the avocation of romantics, as we see our attempt at a hard-edged analysis of Bougainville as documenting: romantics in harness with realist architects of transitional credible commitments.

An interesting aspect of post-conflict development in Bougainville has been some innovative thinking and incipient implementation of dual yet integrated models of traditional–modern governance and village–market economies. On the political front, we see this in the visionary governance designs of Theodore Miriung’s Transitional Government. These have been neither strongly implemented nor extinguished by Miriung’s successors. The essence of Miriung’s vision was a kind of asymmetric constitutionalism within Bougainville in which some councils of elders would choose a governance hybrid that was more traditional and chiefly and others a hybrid more plural and democratic. But all councils of elders would valorise a kind of separation of powers—checks and balances between chiefly powers and the powers of electoral politics and rule of law. All councils of elders would foster the ideal of chiefs empowering democratic development and modern democracy empowering chiefs. The outcome desired was stronger traditional governance and stronger democratic governance. It was an example of cultural identity and cultural security through ‘creative neotraditionalism’ (Wanek 1996:311), indeed of hybrid political orders (Boege et al 2008). The danger Miriung sought to address was normlessness caused by the rule of the gun, which threatened both the traditional authority of male and female elders over young men and a democratic rule of law. For conquering that danger of normlessness, Miriung favoured whatever was the best kind of hybrid of traditional and modernising governance that would work best in a particular area.

President James Tanis worked with Miriung on that vision. He was part of a group of chiefs in Nagovis who supported a ‘model village’ that reinvigorated traditional authority and an economy based on reciprocity at the same time as it created spaces for those who wished to receive micro-finance to enter the market economy. The idea of the model village is that it strengthens opportunities for both kinds of economic flourishing side by side with a cultural flowering of traditional governance and democratic governance. The justice of the elders is a check and balance on abuse of power by militias and governments; the justice of democracy and courts and the ombudsman are checks and balances on abuse of power by chiefs as well as on corruption by politicians. Dual governance and a dual economy can knit and strengthen together. Whichever path an individual chooses, the village guarantees that they will never be allowed to go hungry, to live in poverty or be sent to prison.

The Bougainville peace is particularly instructive because of the virtuous circle that has been created between traditional bottom-up reconciliation and a distinctive kind of political settlement. The bottom-up reconciliation has been profoundly traditional. Yet in that Miriung spirit of hybridising traditional and modern virtues, Bougainvillean reconciliation has acquired some of its strength and resilience by laying itself open to a spirituality that Christianity delivered to it. That Christian influence also deepened the furrows of forgiveness in Bougainvillean traditional reconciliation. Women’s church networks pushed women’s wisdom to the forefront. Second, it laid itself open to modern thought and international experience on mediation, through the invitations to, for example, Leo White and Mark Plunkett in 1997 and to reflection on how New Zealand-style restorative justice principles and training might enhance traditional reconciliation through the agency of the Peace Foundation Melanesia (initially led by Brother Pat Howley, but from then on very Bougainvillean on the ground).

Bottom-up, village-by-village reconciliation created momentum for the top-down political settlement. That settlement then created a pacified space in which it was safe for local reconciliation to grow across all Bougainville. This was the virtuous circle between bottom-up reconciliation and top-down political settlement. The political settlement was innovative in its temporal sequencing of linked commitments that were made credible by the linkages. It took the form of ‘we will do this when you are certified by the United Nations to have done that. When we have been certified to have done it, then and only then do we expect you to solve the next problem.’ This temporal sequencing of linked commitments played out particularly in weapons disposal, power sharing and constitutional change. It meant a slow-food approach to a peace now tasted by the people of Bougainville (Boege 2006; Bowden et al. 2009).

Contemplating the limits of quantitative analysis

Bougainville is a good illustration of the limits of quantitative analyses of peace processes. We might code Bougainville as one successful negotiation at Lincoln University that secured peace. It was also a pattern of thousands of bottom-up local negotiations that were cumulatively successful. One at a time, these local reconciliations were very often unsuccessful (or successful at reconciling only actors who were peripheral to the local conflict). And in terms of top-down peace processes, we have coded 11 ‘unsuccessful’ ones before the success from Burnham/Lincoln. So there are a very large number of peace process data points to make sense of within this ‘one’ case. Yet there is an analytical coherence to how we can code this nest of negotiations. The ‘failed’ Arawa Peace Conference of 1994 was in fact a limited success because it added to what the bottom-up local reconciliations were building towards the peace. But it and the 10 other peace processes that we conceive as ‘failed’ top-down peace processes were failures for the same reasons that the post-Burnham process was a success. These reasons are well captured by Barbara Walter’s (2002) analysis of the 72 civil wars that started between 1940 and 1992. There was not enough of a hurting stalemate in Bougainville until 1997; at Arawa in 1994, elements of the PNGDF were still spoilers of their Prime Minister’s push to peace—as was Francis Ona. By 1997, the costs of the war for all parties were—and appeared to all parties to be—much higher than at previous points during the long war.

In 1997, there was a third-party security guarantee that the parties would trust for the dangerous business of demobilising. In 1994, there had also been Operation Lagoon as third-party military guarantors of the peace process, but one side (the PNGDF) shot at both the peacekeepers and the BRA; and elements of the BRA, including their leader, Francis Ona, suspected that the Australian military was conspiring with the PNG Government to draw them into a trap to capture them (Breen 2001a). Bougainville is also consistent with Walter’s (2002:22–3) theory that reciprocity in step-by-step demobilisation is needed, as explained by Robert Axelrod’s (1984) evolution of cooperation (cooperation evolves tit for tat). That is, when one side sees the other side honour the first step of a commitment, it is more likely to honour the second. As a result, credible commitment grows cumulatively. Sequenced linked steps to demobilisation and disarmament were not committed to until the post-Lincoln process (Wolfers 2006a). Finally, also consistent with Walter’s (2002) analysis, the post-Lincoln peace process succeeded where the previous 11 top-down attempts failed because it was the first to work through to credible guarantees of power sharing.[5] So, as with the hurting stalemate and credible third-party peacekeeper variables, so with the power-sharing variable, we in fact have 12 data points consistent with Walter’s theory, not one.[6] The kind of summary coding in Table 9.1 abstracts too much from this qualitative–quantitative complexity.

[1] Not universally, however, as a result of his formidable alcohol intake and some other excesses to which some took offence.

[2] UNPOB, the UNDP, Australia and New Zealand all paid allowances for attending peace meetings and awareness activities (Regan 2005a). Healthy attendances can make donors look good in the short term and are easy to justify when locals have no source of income.

[3] Of course, families and chiefs deal with a great deal of petty stealing by children without involving the police. In the National Research Institute (2005:20) victims survey in both Arawa and Buka, ‘alcohol or drug related crime’ was by far the most common kind reported, with ‘domestic violence’ the second-most common in Arawa. In Buka, however, ‘stealing’ was reported much more frequently than ‘domestic violence’ as the number-two crime.

[4] Our fieldwork notes on a similar question to an Australian general with Bougainville experience said: ‘could not send in 50 military, but perhaps 50 armed police. It’s bluff. They have to be willing to surrender their guns. If they run to the hills, you can’t catch them in that country. Then they can just come down later.’

[5] Walter (2002:92) also finds that in combination, power sharing and third-party security guarantees are even more likely to secure lasting peace.

[6] The Bougainville data points also fit Walter’s (2002) empirical conclusion that an outside mediator helps peace processes get to the point of a signed agreement, but does not help them to become an implemented peace. The good offices of outside mediators such as Prime Ministers of the Solomon Islands helped deliver signed agreements, but before Lincoln did not deliver peacekeepers, sequenced commitments in the evolution of demobilisation, disarmament or power-sharing commitments. Consequently, they did not deliver peace.


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