United Nations officials today described the recently ended observer mission in Bougainville as an overall success that helped lead to the end of the violence in the province which had fought a years-long secessionist fight against Papua New Guinea.
“I believe very sincerely that this is a success story,” Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said at a press briefing. “In specific terms, the mission was able to promote disarmament and weapons destruction and finally, of course, the mission facilitated international observation for the electoral process,” he added.
The UN made an important contribution to the peace process through its involvement in negotiating, mediating and facilitating the resolution of the conflict through the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) and its successor – the United Nations Observer Mission (UNOMB), as well as the UN Country Team.
Mr. Gambari said that the regional partners Australia and the Asia-Pacific Forum were also very pleased with the outcome.
In June Papua New Guinea implemented the peace agreement that ended long secessionist fighting and culminated with the swearing-in of the new autonomous provincial government of Bougainville Island. The agreement was reached after a decade of island combat against Papua New Guinea that ended in 1998.
The UN efforts included supervision of the collection and destruction of some 2,000 weapons, pushing the parties involved to meet agreed upon pre-election deadlines and ultimately to facilitate the election itself, said Tor Stenbock, Head of the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville.
The swearing in of Bougainville’s first autonomous provincial government in June ended the UNOMB mandate.
Video of press briefing [12mins]