Choose your language

Papua New Guinea

The Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) commenced its engagement in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2013, following the Secretary-General’s formal declaration of eligibility for PBF support. This support comes in the context of the upcoming referendum for the status of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which is expected to take place between 2015 and 2020, and amidst some remaining tensions around the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the future of the Panguna copper mine, which was at the centre of the civil war in the 1990s.

Period and total funding in US$ of PBF support:

Became eligible for PBF support in 2013 through a declaration by the UN Secretary-General.

2013: $0.3 million for the set-up of PBF processes and the Peace and Development Analysis (IRF)

2014: $7.3 million for the Peacebuilding Priority Plan (PRF)

2015: $1.43 million for Gender Promotion Initiative projects (IRF)

Total = $9.03 million

Focus of PBF support:

  • The Priority Plan, approved in October 2014, identifies three key areas of PBF support to the peace process in Bougainville: (i) strengthening the relationship between national government and the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG); (ii) empowering Bougainville’s population to make informed choices on the referendum and to have increased confidence in the peace process; and (iii) strengthening social cohesion and security in Bougainville through trauma healing and community-level reconciliation.
  • The two Gender Promotion Initiative projects, approved in early 2015, focus on empowerment of women in Bougainville through: (i) supporting their political participation as well as the mainstreaming of gender considerations in ABG policies through the establishment of the Office for Women; and (ii) addressing violence against women in Southern Bougainville through community dialogue and prevention as well as through support to victims.

Below is a list of current projects:

Project name/ ID Focus Period Budget RUNOs
PBF/IRF-111: Planim Save, Kamap Strongpela(Plant Knowledge, Grow Strong) Community-level peacebuilding activities addressing conflict related trauma (in perpetrators and survivors of violence) and gender based violence through transforming gender norms and the strengthening of support services available for survivors.  February 2015 – February 2017 $1 million UN Women, UNICEF
PBF/IRF-117 Bougainville Women in Leadership Programme This project aims to strengthen the Bougainvillean capacities to promote coexistence mid peaceful resolution of conflict, through enhancing women’s participation in decision making and leadership and in particular political participation. June 2016 – January 2017 $0.44 million UN Women, UNDP
PBF/PNG/B-1 Stregthening partnership and political dialogue between GoPNG and ABG The project aims to strengthen the relationship and trust between GoPNG and ABG for effective implementation of autonomy arrangements and the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) through: supporting the use of dialogue fora; supporting the implementation of key BPA provisions; increasing the understanding by Government and civil servants of the BPA provisions; strengthening governance capacity of Bougainville Parliament. August 2015 – September 2017 $2.5 million UNDP
PBF/PNG/A-1 Support knowledge-building and understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement The project supports knowledge-building and understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the confidence of the Bougainville population in the Agreement through: messaging about the referendum and the BPA; support to community dialogue fora; support to the capacity building and to strengthening professionalism of the media. August 2015 – September 2017 $2.5 million UNDP
PBF/PNG/D-1 Promoting security and social cohesion in Bougainville The project supports to improved community social cohesion in Bougainville through: strengthening information, coordination and access to trauma and reconciliation services as well as youth leadership and support activities. August 2015 – September 2017 $1.5 million UNDP, UNFPA
PBF/PNG/E-1 Support to PBF coordination and monitoring in PNG This project provides the coordination, oversight and monitoring support to the Peacebuilding Priority Plan. August 2015 – September 2017 $0.8 million UNDP

Overview of PBF support and results:

The PBF support to PNG comes at a critical juncture moment: as Bougainville approaches the referendum on its future status.  After more than a decade of a civil war, the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement established autonomous arrangements, made provisions on weapons disposal and good governance, and called for a referendum on the political status of Bougainville, which is expected to take place between 2015 and 2020. Yet the conditions could be improved to ensure a peaceful process, to address remaining grievances as well as to improve the relations between the national and the Bougainville Government.

With the 2013 re-activation of the Joint Supervisory Board, overseeing the Bougainville Peace Process implementation, the mechanisms are in place from both the national government and the Bougainville authorities to make progress on peacebuilding. The UN is well positioned to assist, having played a key role in Bougainville since the original Peace Accords, with continuous presence in Bougainville ever since then and with broad stakeholder support to continue to play this role.

A Peace and Development Analysis of Bougainville, co-funded by Interpeace and the Peacebuilding Fund, was completed in early 2014, following consultations with about 1,000 people in all regions of Bougainville and in Port Moresby. The analysis identified the following priorities for peace: the enabling environment for a peaceful referendum, including a broad-based debate and informed choices; increased participation of women and youth in political and socio-economic processes; more constructive partnership between the national Government and the ABG; stronger local governance capacity of the ABG; weapons disposal, reconciliation and trauma healing in communities. These have informed the PBF’s programmatic investment and the content of the Priority Plan, in consultation with the UN Department of Political Affairs.

PBF projects are implemented in an environment that is of high risk and where the relationship between the two Governments is fluid. The year 2016 saw some important peacebuilding developments for Bougainville. In January 2014, the PNG Prime Minister made a historic goodwill visit to the Region, during which he apologised to the people of Bougainville supported by the PBF projects. At April 2016 special extraordinary Joint Bougainville Referendum Committee (JBRC) meeting held in Port Moresby and facilitated by UNDP, the national Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government were represented at the highest level. During the two-day discussions, the members agreed on a number of key steps in the preparations for the referendum. This work informed a Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting of 20 May between the country’s Prime Minister and the President of Bougainville, which set a target date of 15 June 2019 for the referendum and also agreed on a referendum work plan in addition to the establishment of an Independent Administrative Agency (IAA) to conduct the referendum. Following this, the Government also made a formal request to the UN to support the referendum process, building on the support provided through the PBF.

Further to the support at the political level, PBF funds are also contributing to make a more tangible immediate difference on the ground, amongst some of the most conflict and trauma affected communities in Bougainville, who continue to experience problems with violence, lack of social cohesion, mistrust and trauma more than a decade after the end of the conflict.

To address and mitigate family and sexual violence, which is prevalent in the area and linked to the broken social relations following the conflict, UN Women has partnered with local organizations to facilitate a series of community conversations in the Siwai and Buin districts of South Bougainville since November 2015 on critical areas including: gender based violence, human rights, trauma healing and peacebuilding. Since the launch of the initiative in 2015, community members indicated improvement in communication between husbands, wives and children, more sharing of housework between men and women, decrease in binge drinking and a reduction in violence.

In February 2015, the UN Department of Political Affairs, at the invitation of the PNG Government, carried out a scoping mission with regards to the Bougainville referendum preparations and the potential role of the UN. The findings will also inform the scope of the PBF projects in this area. Both the GoPNG and the ABG endorsed the submission of the UN mission on 13 March and welcomed the UN role in the referendum preparations. The UN mission found that there was widespread support in Bougainville for the UN’s role of helping to build the momentum and facilitate GoPNG and ABG dialogue and decision-making. International development partners also support the UN’s political role, acknowledging the unique value added and comparative advantage of the UN in form of its impartiality, and long-standing engagement in Bougainville.

The PBF projects were designed in consultation with the Government, the UN Department of Political Affairs and key partners.


Key documents:



Through PBF funds, UNDP has facilitated the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Me’ekamui faction – the warring faction who had refused to participate in Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001. Through long-term dialogue, UN established contacts with leaders of the factions and helped to negotiate for cooperation. As a result, in 2015 the group joined the Peace agreement, and is now actively cooperating with the Bougainville Government, promoting its unification and referendum preparation efforts. At the signing of the MoA, Moses Pipiro, the Me’ekamui military commander said: “I now have the freedom to move around Bougainville after having been here for ages. That means I am in support of the whole process now to prepare us for the referendum. I will do my best now in upholding peace and by 2018 Panguna will be weapons free to maintain the stand that peace does prevail here where it all started’’.

Updated June 2016