The referendum will give the people of Bougainville the opportunity to express their opinion on the future political status of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, as guaranteed in the 2001 Peace Agreement.
Following the Joint Supervisory Body’s (JSB) decision last week, polling for the referendum will start on 12th October 2019.
The JSB also endorsed the work of the Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce, which will meet again in the week of 4 March with UN support.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, said: “This JSB decision highlights again the strong commitment of the two governments to work together to continue to support peace in Bougainville, through the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“We are pleased to see the referendum date agreed and the continued engagement of JSB members with the Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce. The UN will continue to partner with the two governments, recognising that the referendum is a very important step in the process, to be followed by a consultation phase between the two governments before the National Parliament exercises its final decision-making authority.
“It is also imperative that this strong partnership continues, not only between the two governments, but among all concerned. A combined effort is needed to continue to build on what has been achieved to date and progress the Peace Agreement.”
UNDP Resident Representative Tracy Vienings noted that the JSB also endorsed the findings of the second review of Bougainville’s autonomy arrangements conducted in 2018, and noted the progress achieved in terms of weapons disposal.
“UNDP, through the Peacebuilding Fund project ‘Sustaining Peace in Bougainville’, was pleased to support the autonomy review, which was a key milestone in the process of implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“We also continue to provide expertise and logistics support to the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat, which met on two occasions in February to provide the leadership to verify and validate the work already conducted and set the direction of Weapons Disposal in Bougainville.
“The UNDP in Papua New Guinea stands ready to continue to work with the two governments and its people to ensure a credible, peaceful and inclusive referendum through work to support referendum preparedness, weapons disposal, post-referendum planning and referendum awareness.”
(Heads of Mission and development partners, including the United Nations, meet with Bertie Ahern, Chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission)