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Title: Bougainville : a new Pacific nation?
Authors: Connell, John
Keywords: Bougainville Island (Papua New Guinea) -- Economic conditions
Economic development -- Papua New Guinea -- Bougainville Island
Geopolitics -- Papua New Guinea -- Bougainville Island
Mines and mineral resources -- Papua New Guinea -- Bougainville Island
Nationalism -- Papua New Guinea -- Bougainville Island
Secession -- Papua New Guinea -- Bougainville Island
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: University of Malta. Islands and Small States Institute
Citation: Connell, J. (2020). Bougainville : a new Pacific nation?. Small States & Territories, 3(2), 375-396.
Abstract: Bougainville, the easternmost province (or sole autonomous region) of Papua New Guinea, has a long history of support for secession and independence, centred on geography, culture and ethnicity. Nationalism intensified with alienation of land by a multinational copper mine during the 1970s, resulting in the island’s unilateral declaration as the Republic of the North Solomons, a few weeks before the independence of Papua New Guinea in 1975. That was ignored by PNG and other governments. Nationalism resurfaced in violent form after bitter disputes over the impact of the mine, which was forced to close in 1989, prompting what became a civil war led by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army who sought independence. After foreign intervention, peace was eventually restored in 2001: the Bougainville Peace Agreement gave the province greater autonomy and promised a referendum on independence. Within Bougainville, the contested role of mining is central to economic development, which is currently heavily dependent on aid. In a late-2019 referendum, 98 percent of voters supported independence. The Papua New Guinea government need not acquiesce to that outcome and has delayed negotiations that would shape a new political future. Such negotiations exist within a geopolitical context where a Chinese presence is increasingly significant, and where most regional nations, including Papua New Guinea and Australia, prefer the status quo.
Appears in Collections:SST Vol. 3, No. 2, November 2020
SST Vol. 3, No. 2, November 2020

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