First-ever Hela peace workshop

“There is no peace without development and there can be no development without peace.”

Governor of Hela Province, Philip Undialu, noted this in his opening address at the first-ever Hela Peace and Development Workshop which took place from 1-3 October at the Hope Institute in Tari.

Initiated by Governor Undialu and the United Nations (UN), this historic three-day workshop brought together the Hela Provincial Government, National Government agencies, development partners, including representatives of the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the private sector, including ExxonMobil and Oil Search Foundation, civil society and the Churches to work in concert towards a peaceful Hela Province.

Participants noted that while historical grievances and inter-communal conflict should be addressed through a range of confidence-building measures, there is a pressing need to unite behind a common peace and development roadmap that addresses the root causes of violent conflict.

The participants agreed that a common vision to have the people of Hela living in peace and harmony can be achieved through specific measures identified in the roadmap developed at the workshop, including building strong resilient communities, effective rule of law and strong social cohesion maintaining peace and strong and effective leadership and services.

The roadmap complements the Hela government’s ongoing plans and action for peace building and will help guide and coordinate partners in support of priority activities.

The roadmap establishes a strong foundation on which to deliver the services necessary to enable Hela Province to fulfil its human potential based on the Sustainable Development Goals and respect for human rights.

The workshop concluded with the signing of a joint communique calling for:

  • Represented organisations to work in concert to deliver programs under the leadership of the provincial and national governments with the support of the United Nations, bilateral and multilateral partners and other stakeholders;
  • Beginning of a sustained effort to mobilise the resources needed to fully implement the initiatives proposed;
  • An immediate cessation of inter-communal conflict across the province to allow space to build trust, improve access to affected areas, and deliver much-needed services;
  • Support for peacebuilding efforts as an immediate priority noting the fragile situation and the resounding demand for peace from the people of Hela.

Moving forward, participants have forged a strong partnership to build synergies between existing and new initiatives in support of the roadmap, mobilise resources and prioritise implementation.

In closing the workshop, UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla recalled his visit to Hela province earlier this year: “Seven months ago, I travelled together with Honorable James Marape and Governor Philip Undialu to Tari to assess the impact of the humanitarian response UN had supported in the aftermath of the devastating M7.5 earthquake. During the trip, they told me how they wished the UN would fly its flag in Hela. Today, the UN flag is flying in Hela and we are here to stay, and with all our partners, to support peace and development in this wonderful province.”

As a sign of commitment from the Provincial Government to boost peace and development efforts in Hela, Governor Undialu pledged PGK20 million annually to support the UN’s peacebuilding work in Hela.

(Hela Governor Philip Undialu and UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla signing the call to action)

Press release