Despite the remaining obstacles, the Bougainville peace agreement can be fully implemented before the end of the year, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today, stressing that international support to the island will be more critical than ever.
"As the formal peace process draws to an end, it will be particularly important to demonstrate to the people of Bougainville that peace will bring rewards in the form of concrete assistance to rebuild the island," Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Turk, said in an open briefing to the Council.
A recent report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan reviewed activities of the UN Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) since last November. The island, which fought a 10-year war of independence against the archipelago before a 1998 ceasefire, is expected to elect an autonomous government by the end of the year.
Mr. Turk told the Council that UNPOB has continued to focus on the implementation of the Plan of Action for the Completion of Weapons Collection. "We hope that by the end of June 2002, when the Peace Monitoring Group is expected to leave the island, most of the weapons collection process will have been completed, he said. "However, at this point, we cannot yet be certain that it will be the case." He also appealed for the establishment of "some stand-by arrangement that could continue providing technical and logistical support to UNPOB in order to enable it to fulfil its mandate" by the end of the year.
Mr. Turk said he was encouraged by the work done so far by the Bougainville Constitutional Commission which had released an official first draft of the Constitution. He hoped it would be finalized by end of April if all "the required internal consultations" were completed. However, the Assembly necessary to adopt the constitution could not be established until completion of the second stage of weapons disposal had been verified by UNPOB, he stated.