The Bougainville referendum and beyond: Institutional options and issues for transition


In November 2019, the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea voted on whether to pursue ‘greater autonomy’ within Papua New Guinea or independence. The vote showed 97% of the people were in favour of independence. The outcome is subject to ratification by the Parliament of Papua New Guinea and in 2020, the governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea will begin consultations about the way forward.

The National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea commissioned ConTransNet to prepare two studies to help inform the work of leaders in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea on future governance arrangements for Bougainville.

The first study, Greater Autonomy and Independence for Bougainville: Institutional Options and Issues for Transition, compared five aspects of governance for Bougainville under the existing arrangements, ‘greater autonomy’ and independence. This report was written before the referendum to inform understanding of the two choices before the people of Bougainville at the referendum. It remains relevant as a wide ranging and independent account of the issues that the consultations between government need to take into account.

Download the Report NRI's Statement on the Report

VIdeo launching the NRI Research Report (2020)

The second study, Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville, examines the issues and options for building the institutions of government in Bougainville Institution-building is understood broadly, to include not only the bodies and agencies necessary for Bougainville’s internal governance but issues relevant to Bougainville’s identity and its relations with the outside world. We anticipate that this report will be finalised and released later in 2020.

It is a privilege to work with the NRI, and we hope that these reports will be useful as the leaders and the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea consult on the future governance of Bougainville.

Read about the NRI’s Bougainville Referendum Research Project