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

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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 of the launch of the Report "Greater Autonomy and Independence for Bougainville",  March 2020

The second study, Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville, outlines the new institutions and governance arrangements which might be needed to implement self-determination for Bougainville, whatever form it takes. Institution-building is understood broadly and covers institutions for the internal governance of Bougainville as well as institutions to conduct relations with the rest of the world and with Papua New Guinea.

Download the Report NRI's Statement on the Report

Video launch of the Report "Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville", 20 October 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