Right of Self-Determination: Bougainville Peace Agreement

BPA (C)(15):

309. The National Government will move amendments to the National Constitution to guarantee a referendum on Bougainville's future political status.

310. The choices available in the referendum will include a separate independence for Bougainville.

311. (a) The amendments will provide that the outcome will be subject to ratification (final decision-making authority) of the National Parliament.

(b) The autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government will consult over the results of the referendum.

312. (a) The constitutional amendments will guarantee that the referendum will be held:

• no earlier than 10 years and, in any case, no later than IS years after the election of the first autonomous Bougainville Government;

• when the conditions listed below have been met;

• unless the autonomous Bougainville Government decides, after consultation with the National Government and in accordance with the Bougainville Constitution, that the referendum should not be held.

(b) The conditions to be taken into account include:

• weapons disposal; and

• good governance.

313. (a) The benchmarks to be used in determining good governance will take account of internationally accepted standards of good governance as they are applicable and implemented in the circumstances of Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea. These benchmarks include democracy and opportunities for participation by Bougainvilleans, transparency, and accountability, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law, including the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.

(b) The National Government and the autonomous Bougainville Government will co-operate in ensuring progress towards the achievement and maintenance of these benchmarks.

(c) The agreed procedures for review and resolution of disputes will be used to determine whether Bougainville has achieved the standard of good governance intended by this Agreement.

314. (a) The referendum on Bougainville's future political status will be conducted in accordance with agreed constitutional arrangements.

(b) The constitutional amendments and any Organic Law required to implement the agreed referendum arrangements will be introduced into the National Parliament together, and drafted to take effect at the same time.

315. Eligibility to vote in the referendum will be the same as for national elections in Bougainville plus non-resident Bougainvilleans (detailed criteria to be finalized through consultation).

316. (a) The question(s) to be asked in the referendum should be clear and agreed by the National Government and the autonomous Bougainville Government.

(b) The choices should be presented so as to facilitate a clear result.

317. The referendum will be free and fair.

318. The National Electoral Commission and the authority responsible for conducting elections in Bougainville will be jointly responsible for conducting the referendum.

319. International observers will be invited to observe the conduct of the referendum.

320. This agreement will be given effect through Constitutional Laws.

321. The National Government and the autonomous Bougainville Government will consult and co-operate to ensure that the conditions intended to apply before the referendum are met.

322. The agreed dispute resolution mechanism will be used to resolve any differences concerning any issues related to holding the referendum, including issues concerning the questions or method of choice in referendum, and the actual date of the referendum.

323. Consultations over the referendum will include:

(a) timely communication of views in writing to a specified point of contact;

(b) adequate opportunity to respond in a similar way;

(c) where there are differences, meaningful exchange of views within an adequate, agreed and specified time-frame, either orally or in writing, with a view to reaching agreement; and

(d) clear, written record of outcome (either agreement or different views), provided for all parties.

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

Implementation History


No Implementation

For self determination, the Papua New Guinea constitution had to be amended and power had to be devolved. This did not happen in 2001.


Full Implementation

The Papua New Guinea constitution was amended in January 2002 and the amendment allowed for a referendum on independence to be held within 10 to 15 years.1

  • 1. "Papua New Guinea: Bougainville bill clears first hurdle," BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, January 24, 2002.

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.


Full Implementation

As part of the self determination implementation, the National Government handed over the Constitution to the Autonomous Bougainville Government in Arawa in January 2004.2

  • 2. "Papua New Guinea government hands over Bougainville constitution," BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, January 17, 2005.

Full Implementation

After general elections on 2 June, the first Autonomous Bougainville Government, following the internationally observed elections in Bougainville, was inaugurated on 15 June 2005.3

  • 3. "Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea," United Nations Secretary-General: Office of the Spokesman, October 20, 2006, http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=1511, accessed on June 3, 2010.

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.


Full Implementation

No further developments observed.


Full Implementation

No further developments observed.


Full Implementation

No further developments observed.


Full Implementation

No further developments observed.