Lauding recent moves towards a comprehensive political settlement in Papua New Guinea, members of the Security Council today encouraged the parties there to resolve all remaining issues related to the island of Bougainville.
In a statement to the press, the Council's current President, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, welcomed continued progress in negotiations between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville parties, particularly the 7 August endorsement in principle of a comprehensive political settlement.
"The members of the Council encouraged the parties to work flexibly and in a spirit of cooperation to resolve outstanding issues so that the settlement can be formally agreed and its implementation proceed as soon as possible," he said.
The President called the development of a comprehensive political settlement - with provisions for the establishment of an autonomous government in Bougainville, for an eventual referendum and for a weapons disposal programme - "an important step towards final peaceful settlement of the conflict." Council members look forward to the finalization of the settlement, he said.
The members of the Council noted the important role of the Peace Monitoring Group - comprised of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu - in helping to establish the environment in which the peace process has been able to proceed. They also noted that the UN Political Office in Bougainville "has consistently played an important 'good offices' role" that should continue.
Ambassador Valdivieso made his statement following a closed-door briefing to the Council by the head of the UN Political Office in Bougainville, Noel Sinclair. Today's meeting marked the first time the Council members had discussed the situation in Bougainville since March. On that occasion, Council members issued a press statement supporting the good offices role played by the UN and encouraging further meetings between the parties to sort out pending issues.
Located near the Solomon Islands, Bougainville - part of the Pacific Ocean archipelago of Papua New Guinea - was the scene of a rebellious pro-independence movement for nearly a decade, before a ceasefire was brokered by the UN, the Commonwealth and New Zealand in 1998. The UN Political Office in Bougainville was established later that year. Its mandate includes assisting in the promotion of a political dialogue among the parties and conducting peace-building activities.