SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALL FOR SIX-MONTH SUCCESSOR MISSION TO UN POLITICAL OFFICE IN BOUGAINVILLE

15 December 2003
SC/7952

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALL FOR SIX-MONTH SUCCESSOR MISSION TO UN POLITICAL OFFICE IN BOUGAINVILLE

15/12/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7952

Security Council

4881st Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALL FOR SIX-MONTH SUCCESSOR MISSION

TO UN POLITICAL OFFICE IN BOUGAINVILLE

UN Presence Would Monitor Constitutional Process,

Security Situation, Disposal of Contained Weapons

Briefing the Security Council today on the peace process in Bougainville, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Türk, noted the expiration of the mandate of the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) on 31 December and proposed that a successor mission be set up on

1 January for six months, since the peace process would not have reached its “logical conclusion”. 

He explained that a continued United Nations presence would, among its tasks, monitor the constitutional process and security situation, as well as the destruction of contained weapons.  Since the follow-on mission would play a more limited role, UNPOB’s substantive staff could be reduced by 50 per cent.  The new staffing structure and a modified mandate were expected to result in substantial savings.  While it would continue to work closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other bodies, it should preserve its independent status because it would have a clearly defined political character, he said.

Updating recent developments, he said that with the completion of Stage II of the weapons disposal process, the national Government had been allowed to enact the Constitutional Amendment and the Organic Law on Peace-Building.  Under Stage II, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) put more than 1,900 weapons into 16 containers and 68 trunks secured by two locks, with one key held by the relevant commander and the other by UNPOB, pending a final decision on the final fate of those weapons.

Following the briefing, Council members welcomed the commitment of the Government and the Bougainville communities to a political settlement, as well as the fact that the process had now entered the constitutional phase.  The decision, in principle, by the parties to destroy the collected weapons was also vital, and they called for its speedy implementation.  There was general agreement among members for a follow-on observer mission.

Despite the positive steps, the Russian representative asserted, many tasks remained unresolved.  He, therefore, favoured the extension of the United Nations’ presence in Bougainville and was prepared to engage in discussions in the Council on concrete modalities for future United Nations efforts in advancing the peace process.

The United Kingdom’s representative agreed that there was work remaining, particularly in the areas of weapons disposal, confidence-building and elections preparations.  In that connection, she supported the establishment of a “small, closely focused, short-term follow-on” mission, along the lines outlined this morning by the Assistant Secretary-General.  She also hoped to see now a greater sense of urgency on the part of all of the parties in moving forward on those areas.

Given her country’s concern at the delays in weapons disposal and the setting of a date for the elections, the representative of France said she was prepared to support one final extension of the mandate of the United Nations mission in Papua New Guinea, but that should be limited to the first six months of 2004 and should be confined to a limited number of observers.  Moreover, the final mandate of the United Nations’ Political Office should have a clear exit strategy.

Acknowledging that progress had not always been as rapid as desired, Papua New Guinea’s representative said that, nonetheless, progress had been “real and substantial”.  Foundations for peace could be found in the commitment of the people, as well as that of the leaders and former combatants, for practical peace-building.  Furthermore, much was owed to UNPOB for the success of the process.  Request for the Organization’s continued support should not be seen so much as an extension, but as following through with an agreed assignment.

The representative of Australia, whose country was part of the Truce Monitoring Team for Bougainville, along with New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu, said the peace process had now moved beyond the fragile 1998 ceasefire and had reached a point where the parties were no longer discussing just immediate post-conflict issues, but matters related to restoring democratic good governance. as well.  Given that and other gains, Australia, with the support of the parties to the peace process, would withdraw its Bougainville Transition Team at the end of the year.

Also from the region Team, New Zealand’s representative told the Council that while he was encouraged that the factions had met to discuss the final fate of the weapons that had been contained, he hoped that an unambiguous decision would have been reached as to the weapons’ immediate destruction.  Mindful that the Government of Papua New Guinea had requested that the United Nations continue to play a constructive role, he stressed that an ongoing United Nations political presence should, therefore, be structured in a way that ensured that the voices of Bougainvilleans were heard.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Angola, United States, Germany, Mexico, Syria, Guinea, Spain, Pakistan, Cameroon, China, Chile, Bulgaria and Japan.

The meeting began at 10:26 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

Following a decade of armed conflict over the issue of the independence of the island of Bougainville, the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leaders signed, in 1998, the Lincoln Agreement on Peace, Security and Development of Bougainville and the Arawa Agreement Covering Implementation of the Ceasefire.  The regional Truce Monitoring Team composed of monitors from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu was transformed into a Peace Monitoring Group.

On 30 August 2001, the parties signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement and requested the United Nations and the Peace Monitoring Group to provide assistance in its implementation, which was provided by the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB).  Among that Office’s mandate was to develop plans for the disposal of weapons.  UNPOB’s mandate will expire on 31 December.  The Peace Monitoring Group ended its operation on 30 June and was succeeded by the Bougainville Transition Team, comprised of monitors from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu.

On 6 August, the Council was told that UNPOB had completed its second stage of the Weapons Disposal Plan.  There was a deadline of mid-December to complete the third stage of the Plan, involving the final fate of those weapons.  However, one obstacle to completion of the Plan was that Francis Ona and his group had remained outside the process, although not disrupting it.  Certification of completion of Stage II of the Weapons Disposal Plan by UNPOB triggered the constitutional process of bringing the Constitutional Amendment and the Organic Law on Peace-Building in Bougainville into full operation.

Statement by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs

DANILO TURK, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, recalled that, on 6 August, the Council had been informed of the completion of Stage II of weapons disposal.  As a result, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) put more than 1, 900 weapons into 16 containers and 68 trunks secured by two locks, with one key held by the relevant commander and the other by UNPOB, pending a final decision on the final fate of those weapons.  Achievement of that important benchmark had allowed the national Government to enact the Constitutional Amendment and the Organic Law on Peace Building on Bougainville.

He said that development had also expedited consultations among the parties on the drafting of a Bougainville Constitution, the delegation of police powers and functions to the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government, and other arrangements needed to be put in place prior to elections for an autonomous government.  The completion of Stage II “moved the parties closer” to a decision on the final fate of the contained weapons, in Stage III of weapons disposal.  He was happy to report progress in most of the above-mentioned areas.

Updating the Council on other recent developments, he said the Attorney General finally presented in October his long-awaited comments to the national Government on the second draft of the constitution.  Officials of the two sides were currently engaged in resolving their differences related to the consistency between the second draft and the Papua New Guinea Constitution.  On 5 December, the National Executive Council reaffirmed its firm commitment to honour the letter and spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and to implement the corresponding laws.  It was expected that, in the very near future, the Papua New Guinea Government would provide to the Bougainville leaders its comments on the draft.

After overcoming the remaining constitutional differences, the way would be cleared for the Bougainvilleans to pursue the task of developing the third and final draft of the constitution, he said.  It was expected that the text could be officially adopted around February-March 2004, and endorsed by the national Government by July-August 2004.  Immediately following adoption, it would enter into force.  Following the Government’s endorsement, an estimated further six months would be needed to complete preparations for the elections.

He noted that, at their inter-factional meeting on 30 November, the BRA and the BRF had adopted a resolution declaring that the final fate of the contained weapons should be destruction “as soon as the essential components of the Peace Process have been finalized”.  The components or conditions included the coming into force of the Bougainville Constitution, the resolution of outstanding issues with the Me-ekamui Defence Force (MDF) and reconciliation between the MDF, BRA and BRF.  The achievement by the BRA and BRF of a unified position on weapons destruction boded well for the next meeting of the Peace Process Consultative Committee on 16 or 17 December, at which the parties were expected to meet or modify some of the conditions enunciated by the Bougainville factions.  That would facilitate adoption of the Stage III decision on the weapons’ final fate.

In accordance with the Peace Agreement, a decision on the final fate of the contained weapons –- some 1,900 –- should be made before 21 December, he said. Since the national Government favoured destruction, it was not expected that there would be disagreement on points of substance.  Where implementation of the eventual decision was concerned, UNPOB had prepared a statement of the administrative and technical issues to be addressed before the destruction process could begin.  Those factors were expected to have an impact on the timing of implementation of that decision.

He said that, while the way was now cleared for that process to begin, the destruction of the bulk of contained weapons seemed unlikely to take place until next year.  Regarding delegation of police powers, the National Executive Council decided to delegate police powers and functions to the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government.  The formal hand-over ceremony was scheduled to take place in Buka on 16 and 17 December.  Meanwhile, arrangements were being finalized for furthering strengthening the law and justice capacity of Bougainville through the deployment of 30 Bougainvillean police from the mainland and the recruitment among Bougainvilleans of the first 50 of 100 cadets for police training.

While some progress had been achieved in the area controlled by Francis Ona, he added, Mr. Ona continued to refuse to contain the weapons of the MDF; that position could impact the pace and timing of the implementation of the BRA/BRF’s decision to destroy their weapons.  Moreover, Mr. Ona’s supporters continued to maintain roadblocks preventing the delivery of government services and development assistance to the so-called “No-Go-Zone”.  However, he believed that the people of Bougainville would be able to reconcile their differences on the matter, although the process would take some time.  The United Nations should, meanwhile, stand ready to provide good offices to initiatives.

Finally, he noted that the decision on the final fate of the contained weapons within the Stage III framework should justify the termination of UNPOB’s current mandate.  Yet, the peace process would not have reached its logical conclusion by 31 December 2003, for which reason, the United Nations’ continued political presence in Bougainville should be maintained.  However, a significant downsizing of the UNPOB was warranted.  Such a move would send a potent message of encouragement and support to the parties and the people of Bougainville.  Moreover, given the withdrawal of the Bougainville Transitional Team, the United Nations’ continued presence would contribute to building confidence among the parties to the peace process and consolidate the Organization’s and international community’s considerable investment in the process.  It would also give the Autonomous Government a fair chance to commence in an environment providing a reasonable prospect for continued strengthening of peace, security and stability on the island.

Thus, he proposed that a successor mission to UNPOB –- a United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) –- be established with the following functions:  chairing the Peace Process Consultative Committee; reporting on the security and subsequent destruction of contained weapons; monitoring the constitutional process leading to the adoption of the Bougainville Constitution; verifying and certifying substantial compliance by the parties with the weapons disposal plan, thereby enabling the holding of elections; and performing other good offices as appropriate.

UNPOB’s substantive staff should be reduced by 50 per cent, to comprise a head of Mission, one political adviser and two support staff, he said.  The new staffing structure and modified mandate were expected to result in substantial savings.  Other means of reducing the cost of UNOMB would be found in continuing close cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other United Nations bodies on practical aspects of peace-building, as well as in the sharing of office space in Buka and Arawa.  It was, thus, hoped that the Council would establish UNOMB for a period of six months, starting on 1 January 2004.

Statements by Council Members

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in the peace process.  He had been very encouraged by recent developments and was aware of the priorities set by the Government, in order to consolidate the gains made so far, namely, completion of the weapons disposal, maintenance of public order and the rule of law, delegation of powers and functions to the Bougainville authorities, and the building of civil and political structures as essential building blocks.  Agreement by the parties to fully implement the provisions of the peace agreement was a source of hope that a sustained solution to the issue was possible.

He said he appreciated the ongoing support provided by UNPOB, as well as by Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu, which had also played an outstanding role in stabilizing the situation.  Also welcome had been the efforts of the relevant United Nations agencies and the international community of donors towards restoring peace.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the establishment of a new observer mission, with a view to ensuring United Nations assistance and mediation until the conclusion of the peace process with the establishment of an autonomous government in Bougainville.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said he also supported the recommendation that there should be a follow-on interim observer mission that would facilitate completion of the constitutional process and of weapons destruction.  The United Nations political mission there had been successful; an interim mission would provide the necessary transition.  He appreciated the efforts of regional players in assisting the stabilization process, and he thanked the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Noel Sinclair, for his efforts to facilitate the constitutional process.  Hopefully, all parties could work to find a resolution of their differences at the upcoming meeting.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said the parties in Bougainville must be aware of their full responsibility for the peace process and the need to implement fully the provisions of the agreement.  Noting that the mandate of UNPOB, and its Head, would expire at the end of this year, he said that the mission’s departure was the next logical step in the process.  It was time to increase the people of the island’s ownership of the process, time to move beyond peace-building.  It was, thus, crucial that the remaining tasks in that regard, particularly the development of the constitution and the destruction of collected weapons, be completed without delay.  For that reason, the agreement of the parties to destroy weapons was welcomed; they must be destroyed immediately and without further conditions.

As pointed out by the Government of Papua New Guinea, the process had progressed slower than expected in the last half of the year, he said.  Tasks originally designated to be filled by UNPOB had not been completed.  However, it was not necessary to extend the mission’s mandate in its current form.  A United Nations presence on a smaller scale and for a shorter time was, thus, endorsed.  The peace process was now largely self-sustaining; an interim mission could meet the remaining demands.  However, the parties must understand that they should move on expeditiously and that elections should follow as soon as possible.  His country would continue to contribute to functioning civil society within the context of the European Union.

EMMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) said that despite progress in the peace process in recent months, she remained concerned at the delays in the disposal of weapons and the establishment of a date for elections.  Thus, her country was prepared to support one final extension of the mandate of the United Nations mission in Papua New Guinea.  However, the presence of the United Nations should be limited to the first six months of 2004 and should be confined to a limited number of observers.  That format and duration should be sufficient to complete the settlement process, which should also include the disposal of collected weapons, the holding of an assembly, and the holding of elections and the establishment of an autonomous government.

The future of Bougainville lay with the island’s people themselves, she said.  They must take steps to normalize the situation.  Moreover, the final mandate of the United Nations Political Office must have a clear exit strategy.  Once that mandate had been completed, the UNDP would be responsible for making the best possible contribution to stabilizing the political functioning of the island.

CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said the successful completion of the disarmament process and the constitution were key points, particularly at a time when the international presence was being reduced and the people of the island were preparing to take control of their own future.  Sustainable economic and social conditions would strengthen the peaceful transition towards a stable political future for the island.  He was grateful for the support provided by Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu, and he noted with satisfaction the measures taken by the Government of Papua New Guinea, such as the delegation of powers to the interim executive council and the cooperation displayed with some of the former combatants in the area of security.

He said that, although conditions were stabilizing, there was a need to advance the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, as well as the development of structures of economic and social development, in order to avoid a resurgence of conflict.  The ultimate fate of the weapons was also key.  He was also satisfied with the progress made in preparing the third revised draft constitution.  The successful conclusion of disarmament and the adoption of the constitution were fundamental elements for peace and development and economic growth.  For that reason, the United Nations should provide support, particularly for the elections, the establishment of an autonomous government and institution building.  Her delegation would analyse the Secretary-General’s proposal, including for a new observer mission, bearing in mind the financial implications.

MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said the peace agreement had sought to consolidate the pillars of a peaceful settlement and restore civil authority, under a democratically elected government.  The weapons disposal programme must continue, especially in view of the progress made and the success achieved in Phase II.  Former combatants must be reintegrated, and plans must be developed to ensure security.  There was also a need to resolve all pending questions and integrate all groups remaining outside the peace process.  Of central importance was a new constitution, for which the second revised text was of extreme importance.

He said he had appreciated the regional support for the peace process, especially the efforts made by the transition team for Bougainville.  He also appreciated the efforts undertaken by the new Bougainville Government and its support for all tasks leading to the establishment of an autonomous government.  He also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to establish an interim observer mission for six months, as that would help support the peace process.

ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the weapons disposal plan, despite the delays experienced regarding the initial timetable, as well as the transfer of police functions from the central authority to the interim executive council of Bougainville.  It was particularly pleasing to note that the progress had been made possible due to the important role played by the United Nations Political Office, as well as the commitment of the parties themselves.

However, he noted, it would be wise to follow the destruction of the weapons through Stage III –- that was the sine qua non for the holding of elections.  Thus, urging the renewed adherence of all parties to the settlement of the dispute, he also reiterated his appeal to the community of donors to mobilize increased resources for the development of Bougainville.  The final extension of the Political Office’s mandate was favoured, as it would contributed to the speedy finalization of the peace process.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said the conclusion of Phase II of the disarmament process had made it possible to make progress, and the expected decision on weapons disposal should make clear the ultimate fate of the weapons collected.  Moreover, the peace-building seen in Bougainville constituted a milestone in the experience of building autonomous governments.  Expressing his appreciation for the continued support of the transitional team for Bougainville, he said the active support of regional countries -– seen in Bougainville -– should be emulated.

Supportive of the extension of the Political Office’s mandate, he said it would allow the mission to continue to deal with matters still pending under the agreement.  Emphasis must be laid upon the reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants and the construction of infrastructure.  Finally, it was trusted that peace and stability would be consolidated in a sustainable manner.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) commended the efforts of all the parties, as well as the Government’s “courageous decisions” and strong commitment to peace.  The UNPOB had largely been able to complete its task, thereby facilitating the constitutional process and clearing the way for elections in 2004.  That would lead to the eventual holding of a referendum, in which the people of Bougainville would exercise their right to self-determination.  He strongly supported the path that the parties had courageously agreed to follow.  Sustaining peace meant promoting and sustaining economic and social development; the two were indivisible.

He urged the donor community to contribute generously, not only to the peace process, but also to the promotion of social and economic development, so badly needed on the island.  His country had always argued against the premature withdrawal of the United Nations.  Much follow-up work remained in Bougainville to sustain the peace process there, including the weapons destruction, facilitation of contacts between the parties, and election preparations.  He hoped that United Nations political engagement in Bougainville would not end with the expiration of UNPOB’s mandate.  He supported interim measures, which would allow the United Nations to continue its work there and “stay the course for peace”.

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) welcomed the progress made, particularly in drafting the constitution, which would establish the rule of law and justice, and in weapons disposal.  The destruction of the weapons collected must take place as soon as possible, and in an unconditional manner, as that would make it possible to speed the settlement process, restore stability and promote conditions for sustainable development.  Presently, the success of the process depended on the will and commitment of the parties.  More than ever, those needed the support of the international community, and particularly the United Nations.

He said that that was why he supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General to extend, by six months, the United Nations’ presence.  A political presence would help the parties to complete, under the best possible conditions, the current process.  As many delegates had stated, UNPOB’s mandate should be reviewed in light of the briefing by Mr. Türk.  He encouraged donors to continue to provide manifold assistance, encouraging, as well, the countries in the region to help consolidate peace.

GUANGYA WANG (China) said that since the signing of the peace agreement, the peace process had been proceeding smoothly, and the parties had reached agreement on the final fate of collected weapons.  Moreover, the development of a constitution was proceeding apace and police powers had been delegated to local authorities.  All those developments were encouraging.  China continued to support the peace process and the establishment of peace in Bougainville.

Also supportive of the Organization’s work in respect of peace-building in Bougainville, he said that a crucial stage had been entered for the destruction of collected weapons and the establishment of an autonomous government there.  Papua New Guinea’s desire for UNPOB’s continued presence on the island was understandable, as it was of great importance to ensuring the peace process there.  He also called upon the various United Nations agencies and donor countries to give timely attention and support to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Bougainville and to helping local authorities and ex-combatants.

ARMIN ERNESTO ANDEREYA LATORRE (Chile) said the agreed position of the parties for the termination of Phase III of the disarmament process and the destruction of collected weapons was welcomed.  Moreover, the meeting planned between the Bougainville groups and the Papua New Guinea authorities was also welcomed.  However, many challenges lay ahead, particularly concerning the elaboration of the constitution and the holding of elections.  In that regard, the central role of UNPOB was supported.

It would be necessary to continue to support the rebuilding of the island’s infrastructure and the rehabilitation of former combatants, he continued.  To make peace sustainable, there must also be an efficient administration and viable economy, and the Organization’s agencies should closely coordinate their efforts to establish and build peace.

Given the imminent withdrawal of the Bougainville Transitional Team, he said the continued presence of the United Nations Political Office would be essential.  His Government supported the extension of the mission’s mandate until the holding of elections and until greater progress on other issues was achieved, and it endorsed the creation of UNOMB.  Finally, the growing cooperation between authorities of Papua New Guinea and those of Bougainville was welcomed, and it was hoped that the mutual trust and confidence would continue to grow.

ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said he welcomed the commitment of the Government and the Bougainville communities to a political settlement.  He had also been pleased that the process had entered the constitutional phase.  The decision of the parties, in principle, to destroy the collected weapons was also welcome, and he called for its speedy implementation.  He commended the activities of the authorities to implement the provisions of the peace agreement, including the constitutional commission’s efforts to advance that process.  Of great importance had been the inclusion in the constitution of a new fourteenth part, entitled “peace-building in Bougainville” on the basis of the peace agreement.  Also welcome had been the steps taken to strengthen the local police, including delegation to it of substantial powers and functions.

He called on those parties outside the peace process to join it.  He, meanwhile, commended the work done by UNPOB in advancing peace and noted regional efforts during the island’s transition.  Despite such positive steps, many tasks remained unresolved.  He, therefore, favoured the extension of the United Nations’ presence in Bougainville, and he was prepared to engage in discussions in the Council on concrete modalities for future United Nations efforts in advancing the peace process.  Also important was the continuation and increase of regional support, assistance from the UNDP and other United Nations agencies to assist the process of post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building.

ROSEMARY DAVIS (United Kingdom) said she agreed with Mr. Türk and others that there was still work to be done, particularly in the areas of weapons disposal, confidence-building and elections preparations.  In the forthcoming period, she hoped to see a greater sense of urgency on the part of all of the parties in moving forward on those areas.  In that connection, she supported the establishment of a “small, closely focused, short-term follow-on” mission, along the lines outlined this morning by the Assistant Secretary-General.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) welcomed the contribution of the Transitional Team in implementing the ceasefire agreement, as well as the contribution of UNPOB and all the efforts of those involved in the peace process and the latest phase of the arms disposal process.  The fate of those arms already collected should be acceptable to all parties.  Moreover, peace-building efforts should continue without hindrance.  Mr. Ona and his group should be brought into the peace process.  Finally, he expressed his support for the extension of UNPOB’s mandate for a further six months, due to its importance to the peace process.

Other Statements

ROBERT AISI (Papua New Guinea) said that the peace process in his country continued to move forward, and while the progress made had not been as rapid as desired by many observers and participants, it was real and substantial. Moreover, although some characteristics of that process were unique to Bougainville -– and Papua New Guinea as a whole –- it could constitute a model for peace processes in other parts of the world concerning the manner of its continuance, consolidation and progression.  The foundations of the peace process were to be found in the people’s commitment to peace and in the commitment of leaders and former combatants to practical peace-building.  Furthermore, the success of the process, the key to which was found in the focus on consultation and cooperation, owed a great deal to support from the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea (UNPOB).

Although political leaders in Bougainville and at the national level agreed that the Transitional Team could safely withdraw, it was considered critical that the United Nations remain present on the ground, he added.  The faith of all in the effectiveness of UNPOB was reflected in the critical responsibilities that had been given to it, including responsibility regarding weapons disposal.  Those responsibilities had been incorporated into the peace agreement, and, thus, with the decision on the final fate of weapons at Stage III of the disposal process still to be made, the mission’s work in that regard remained unfinished, as did its work concerning the resolution of any dispute between the parties on the questions of whether conditions were conducive to the holding of elections.

The delay witnessed in UNPOB’s fulfilment of its mandate was not due to setbacks, nor to deliberate delays, he assured the Council, but to the way in which the peace process had been founded. Thus, the request for the Organization’s continued support should not be seen so much as an extension, but as seeing through a previously agreed assignment.  For the sake of clarity and the avoidance of uncertainty, disputes and possible resort to the courts, it would be best if the renewed mission continued to be known as the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

The importance of the mission’s renewal was related to matters in addition to the agreed weapons disposal plan and meeting formal constitutional requirements, he added.  Those included the need to consult and cooperate in resolving any difficulties that might arise, and in keeping the peace process moving ahead, for which a mechanism had been set up.  That mechanism had evolved into the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC), which the Director of UNPOB had been invited to chair.  The PPCC was the forum, in which the national Government and the former combatant groups could consult when difficulties arose.  It was vital that the PPCC continue to operate until a government, representing the people of Bougainville, was elected and assumed responsibility.  Thus, although it had been agreed by leaders on all sides that the United Nations should continue to be present until the holding of elections, it had also been agreed that the Organization should cease operating there and leave as soon as those elections occurred.

Praising the contribution of the Director of UNPOB, Noel Sinclair, in particular, and requesting that he stay on as the Head of Mission, Mr. Aisi reviewed the progress made in peace-building.  Specifically, the national Government and Bougainville parties had continued to consult and cooperate in developing the autonomous Government’s constitution, while the national Government had delegated certain police functions and powers to local authorities.  It was also preparing to restore civil authority more generally, including to the courts and correctional services, and had mobilized funds to help reduce tensions through settling outstanding financial claims, entitlements and other payments.

On implementing Stage III of weapons destruction, he said the conditions placed by former combatants upon the issue had no authority under the peace agreement; destruction should be agreed to at the PPCC meeting, to be held this week in Buka, and implementation of that decision should proceed with all deliberate speed.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand), who welcomed the ongoing progress with Bougainville’s peace process, said that while it had been encouraging that the factions had met to discuss the final fate of the weapons that had been contained, New Zealand had hoped that an unambiguous decision would have been reached as to the weapons’ immediate destruction.  He encouraged the parties to expedite the final decision to destroy those weapons, which would, thus, conclude the island’s disarmament process.

New Zealand was mindful that the Government of Papua New Guinea had requested that the United Nations continue to play a constructive role in the peace process, he continued.  But as the peace process moved forward, it was also of key importance to ensure that all Bougainvilleans had a say in setting the agenda.  Too often in the recent past, the views of former combatants had been given disproportionate weight.  An ongoing United Nations political presence should, therefore, be structured in such a way as to ensure that the voices of Bougainvilleans would be heard.

He said the main concern for the vast majority of Bougainvilleans was the improvement of their social and economic conditions.  New Zealand, along with Australia and other donors, had made significant investments in the development of the island, and would encourage enhanced engagement of the United Nations funds and programmes to complement those efforts.  Should the Council approve a continued United Nations presence in Bougainville, the size of that mission should be reflective of the needs on the ground at present, and Council members should weigh carefully all the views that had been expressed today.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said Bougainville’s peace process had now moved beyond the fragile 1998 ceasefire and had reached a point where the parties were no longer discussing just immediate post-conflict issues, but matters related to restoring democratic good governance, as well.  Highlighting several recent developments, including an agreement in principle by the former combatants on weapons disposal, delegation of police powers, and with the “Kuri Resolution on Implementation of Autonomy”, agreement on many practical challenges, he added that Bougainville’s peace was now becoming self-sustaining.  To that end, Australia, with the support of the parties to the peace process, was set to withdraw its Bougainville Transition Team at the end of the year.

He added that Australia would remain involved, but its support would flow more directly through bilateral cooperation with Papua New Guinea.  The wider international community must also stay involved, he said, noting the final extension of UNPOB.  And while the parties had recently asked the world body to remain on Bougainville, particularly in light of its clear role in the demobilization process, Australia endorsed Papua New Guinea’s requests for a smaller, more focused United Nations presence.  Such a presence could help wrap up the weapons disposal process, facilitate the finalization of a constitution and encourage planning for early, free and fair elections.  He suggested that a modified United Nations presence should be transitional in nature and, initially, could be headed by Noel Sinclair, UNPOB’s current director.

Committed to helping Bougainville overcome the serious challenges it would face in the future, Australia planed to focus its development assistance over the next four years on good governance and helping the parties establish a viable and affordable autonomous administration, he said.  Australia’s aid would also maintain support for essential services and economic growth.

Particularly aware of challenges relating to maintaining law and justice -- including a credible and effective police force –- Australian and Papua New Guinean police and officials last week had begun a new cooperative programme to work side by side to help Papua New Guinea’s Government address key challenges, he said.  Australia had offered to send a police team of up to 20 persons to Bougainville.  That team was ready to start work there within weeks and would cooperate with the Government’s Royal Constabulary to help restore confidence in the police force on Bougainville, to enhance policing capacity and to assist with future law enforcement training and the development of new recruits.  It would also work with New Zealand to strengthen other key components of the law and justice system.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) welcomed the steady progress of Bougainville’s peace process since the Council’s last meeting on the matter this past August.  Noting that the implementation of the 2001 peace agreement was in its final stages, he added that once decisions on the weapons collection and disposal track had been made and security had been fully restored, the international community looked forward to the prompt holding of Bougainville’s first elections for an autonomous government.  That would ensure that the people would be able to live in peace and to jump-start the restoration and development process on their own.

Now that the peace process was in its final stage, it was crucial, he continued, that the progress be consolidated.  To that end, Japan supported the extension of the mandate of UNPOB as necessary.  At the same time, however, he stressed that Japan was gravely concerned about the expansion of the United Nations budget, and would, therefore, request that UNPOB provide evaluation reports at the appropriate time following this current extension, so that Japan and other countries concerned would be able to verify its effectiveness.

Japan also believed that closer coordination and cooperation with the UNDP and other relevant agencies conducting activities on the ground would be helpful to the completion of UNPOB’s mandate, he said.  In the meantime, Japan would continue to help with efforts to consolidate Bougainville’s peace and development.   To that end, during October, it had had begun providing assistance for improvement in such areas as education, public health and transportation.

Mr. TURK, responding to points raised by those delegations addressing the Council on the issue of the extension of the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville, expressed again his appreciation for the Council members’ support for the issue and for the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding the follow-on mission in Bougainville.  That mission, he wished to reiterate, would be a small mission and would set the example for effective work. Note had been taken of the point raised by the representative of New Zealand, on the need for the voices of all Bougainvilleans to be heard in the process.  The need to pursue the three objectives of autonomy and elections, weapons collection and disposal, and adherence to the commitments for the development of Bougainville was also understood.

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For information media. Not an official record.