Disarmament: Bougainville Peace Agreement

BPA (C):

324. Agreed plans for weapons disposal will be fully implemented before elections for the autonomous Bougainville Government are held.

BPA (E):

329. The Parties endorse the weapons disposal plan developed with ex-combatants and contained in the Resolution on Weapons Disposal adopted by the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC) on 9th May 2001 (set out in the following pages), and will regard implementation in full accordance with the Plan as representing mutually acceptable compliance with the last paragraph of the Agreed Principles on Referendum (set out above).

Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC) Resolution on Weapons Disposal:

5. Weapons disposal will be implemented in stages.

Stage 1

6. Stage 1 will begin immediately, initially in areas where there is no Defense Force or Police Mobile Unit presence. It will proceed in all areas as follows:

(1) Councils of Chiefs/Elders will inform UNOMB when the people in a particular area are ready for ex-combatants to disarm and reintegrate into the community, remaining Defense Force and Police Mobile Units to withdraw, and weapons to be securely contained;

(2) UNOMB will inform the PPCC sub-committee;

(3) the National Government will be advised and take appropriate steps to arrange for Defense Force and Police Mobile Unit personnel to withdraw from that area;

(4) weapons will be handed in to BRA and BRF unit commanders, who will store them securely in containers provided through the PPCC and sealed for purposes of verification by UNOMB.
Note: BRA and BRF structures are outlined in Attachment 1.

Stage 2

7. (a) After implementation of stage 1 in any area, stage 2 will begin in that area with the delivery of weapons to company commanders, who will place them in secure containers at a small number of central locations.

(b) When and if amendments to the National Constitution to implement the comprehensive agreement are ready for certification, the weapons will be held in containers under UNOMB supervision and secured by two locks - with one key held by the relevant commander and the other held by UNOMB - pending a final decision on the ultimate fate of the weapons.

(c) The Bills to amend the National Constitution will provide for the constitutional amendments to take effect on verification by UNOMB that die weapons are in secure, double-locked containers under its supervision.

Stage 3: Final Fate of the Weapons

8. (a) A decision on the final fate of the weapons should be made within 4 V% months of the coming into effect of the constitutional amendments. If no decision is made, the Parties will meet with a view to reaching agreement on whether or not the elections should be delayed, taking into account whether or not there has been genuine handing in of weapons and the level of security of the weapons.

(b) In any event, any of the parties may call on the UNOMB with the assistance of the PMG to verify and certify whether there has been substantial compliance by the parties in the handing in of weapons and whether the level of security of the weapons makes it conducive to holding the elections.

(c) UNOMB's report will be presented to, and considered by, the PPCC.

(d) The Bougainville parties will be bound by UNOMB's findings on whether or not the first election for the autonomous Bougainville Government will be deferred, and the length of any deferral.

Verification and Other Practical Considerations

9. (a) UNOMB will carry out such inspections and inquiries as its representative considers necessary at each stage, verify the collection and storage of weapons, and report its findings regularly, frequently and fully to the PPCC, with respect for such confidentiality as may be required.

(b) The parties will co-operate with each other and UNOMB to ensure that UNOMB can carry out its responsibilities under this Resolution efficiently and effectively.

10. (a) Weapons that have been handed in will not be reissued.

(b) Ex-combatants will not attempt to rearm.

(c) Keys will be kept securely by those to whom they are entrusted, and not handed over to anyone else.

(d) The parties will respect and co-operate in promoting wider respect for the security of containers, keys and those who are responsible for them under this Resolution.

(e) The National Government assures the PPCC it will not redeploy members of the Defence Force or the Police Mobile Units in new areas or areas from which they have been withdrawn.

International Aspect

11. The National Government will seek the agreement of the United Nations Security Council for UNOMB to carry out the responsibilities specified in this Resolution,.

12. The National Government will request the states that contribute to the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) to (1) provide technical assistance, (2) agree to the PMG's support, for implementation of this Resolution.

13. The National Government will seek the assistance of foreign development co - operation partners in developing and implementing a programme to assist in the reintegration and rehabilitation of ex-combatants.

Implementation History


Minimum Implementation

On May 9 the Peace Process Consultative Committee endorsed the Resolution on Weapons Disposal of the BPA.1 Stages I and II of the weapons disposal program commenced. Stage I consisted of placing weapons in small containers. Stage II involved placing those small containers into larger shipping containers. Factional unit commanders, verified by the UNOMB, controlled containers. The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) also monitored them regularly. 

  • 1. Natascha Spark and Jackie Bailey, “Disarmament in Bougainville: 'guns in boxes,'” International Peacekeeping, 12(4): 601, 2005.

Intermediate Implementation

"The PMG worked within the defined steps of the BPA and the PMG’s agreement to support the UNOMB in weapons disposal. The PMG provided large, lockable plastic containers for Stage I and large steel shipping containers for Stage II. It transported the containers across the island via helicopter and provided experts to catalogue and count the weapons. The PMG transported ex-combatants around the island to encourage the disposal of weapons and attend the disposal ceremonies, which often attained ritualistic significance, symbolizing an end to the conflict and a return to civilian life."2 By the end of 2002, the PMG convinced the PNG Parliament to pass legislation indicating the beginning of the end of the disarmament process.


Intermediate Implementation

Stages I and II continued. Following several thefts, the procedure was modified to double locking of the small containers in stage I, which were then deemed to be at stage II. Early in 2003, the PMG command appealed to women, chiefs, and church leaders to convince their community men to disarm.

According to a report of the Secretary General to the Security Council on the UN Political Office in Bougainville, “At the end of February 2003, 80.2 per cent of Bougainville had reached stage II, and two districts had fully completed the process of disarmament. Of the total number of collected weapons, 7.4 per cent have been destroyed in advance of the formal launch of stage III."3 The report highlighted the obstacles to achieve a reasonably complete weapons disposal in Bougainville, primarily the non-involvement of Mr. Francis Ona and his Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF) in the peace process. According to a news report, the Australian Defence Force said that the Bougainville disarmament process had gathered 1,621 guns. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army had secured 1,025 of the guns and the other 596 were from the Bougainville Resistance Force. The Australian military spokesman in Canberra, Brig Mike Hannan, said that more than half the weapons have been moved from villages to centralized steel containers with United Nations observers.4

  • 3. "Secretary General's Report," U.N. Security Council (S/2003/345), March 20, 2003.
  • 4. "Papua New Guinea: Bougainville disarmament process gathers over 1,600 guns," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, October 10, 2002.

Intermediate Implementation

Stage III was carried out. Most weapons were destroyed.


Intermediate Implementation

“As of mid-2005 weapons disposal had achieved ‘significant compliance according to the UN, but was still incomplete. About 5 per cent of the weapons at Stage II were not yet destroyed, and some weapons never even made it to Stage I."5

However, the disarmament process was largely successful. On May 19, 2005, “UNOMB informed the parties to the Bougainville Peace Agreement that the weapons disposal plan incorporated into the Agreement had been implemented. Of a total 2,016 weapons kept in containers, 1,896 were destroyed. UNOMB collected and destroyed an additional 155 weapons, bringing the total to 2,051 weapons. It is therefore determined that the parties had substantially complied with the implementation of the plan, paving the way for the holding of elections."6 Having deemed their mandate complete, UNOMB left Bougainville.

  • 5. “Disarmament in Bougainville: 'guns in boxes,” International Peacekeeping.
  • 6. "Yearbook of the United Nations 2005: Sixtieth Anniversary Edition - Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All," United Nations; 60 Anv edition, 2005, p. 455.

Intermediate Implementation

Disarmament of former combatants was only partially successful as Francis Ona and his Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF) did not participate in the peace process. The issue of light arms remained. 


Intermediate Implementation

Disarmament of former combatants was only partially successful as Francis Ona and his Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF) did not participate in the peace process. The issue of light arms remained. 


Intermediate Implementation

The government recognizes, “[s]mall firearms control and weapons disposal” as an outstanding issue, and names 2008 as, “the year of Reconciliation and Weapons Disposal.”7


Intermediate Implementation

A Peace, Reconciliation and Weapons Disposal Ministry was created within the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Robert Hamal Sawa was appointed to the position.8

  • 8. “ABG Appoints Peace Minister,” PNG Post-Courier, May 07, 2009.

Intermediate Implementation

“The people of Rotokas in the Wakunai District of Central Bougainville have taken the lead in disposing of their firearms. As part of their effort in the Bougainville peace process, ex-combatants in the mountainous region on Wednesday handed in three firearms to the Autonomous Bougainville Government Minister for Peace, Reconciliation and Weapons Disposal and MP for Hagogohe Robert Hama Sawa and his ministry co-ordinator George Manu at Ruruvu.”9

  • 9. “Ex-Combatants Give Up Firearms,” PNG Post-Courier, Jan 22, 2010; UNOMB’s Verification Report, Implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement: Completion of Stage II of Weapons Disposal, http://www.igr.gov.pg/unoreport.pdf, Accessed on June 3, 2010.