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Bougainville reconstruction aid: what are the issues?

CollectionsANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program
Title: Bougainville reconstruction aid: what are the issues?
Author(s): Apthorpe, Raymond
Keywords: Bougainville
aid studies
humanitarian issues
aid strategies
Date published: 1997
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 1998/7
‘Today, mipela finisim war bilong Bougainville’, (‘Today, the war in Bougainville has ended’) said Sam Kauona, the Commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, at the ceasefire signed 30 April 1998. This followed the previous November’s truce. It had become clear by 1997 that a military solution was not possible, that the conflict ‘had many basic sources’, and that a desire for peace was widespread and growing especially in the areas most affected by the conflict (Interdepartmental Committee 1997). It was recognised also that the conflict began because of problems peculiar to Bougainville, and has extended and deepened to a large degree because of tensions within Bougainville. Any lasting solutions…must as much as possible come from Bougainvilleans. By a non-Bougainvillean, but also someone who has never even visited that Province or worked anywhere in Papua New Guinea for decades (and then only for a few months in Port Moresby at the Central Planning Office), this essay on aid issues is therefore highly speculative. It proceeds only by generalization and deduction from what appear to be comparable situations in other parts of the world. No two wars are the same. Obviously Biafra decades ago, then Mozambique, Somalia, Liberia and Rwanda more recently, Bosnia and Afghanistan still, Cambodia, and Rwanda again, are not Papua New Guinea ten or five years ago or now. But some commonalities can perhaps be found. At the time of writing (May 1998), the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea is assuring Bougainvilleans that they have his support for the task of peace and re-building in a spirit of self-reliance and autonomy. It appears that all Bougainville parties now wish for some types of aid, using mainly Bougainvillean inputs, to rehabilitate basic services so as to meet immediate health, education and local roads needs. To judge from reports of demands for more of the types of basic livelihood packs AusAID has provided thus far, this aid response seems to have been appropriate. What is not requested (nor, thus far, supplied) is aid for projects such as airport and seaport rebuilding. This is ruled out because of the strategic implications of such projects for what is feared might become a return to the ‘development’ of old in the province, before the crisis, now in its tenth year. And this, overall, is the position taken here. Contrary to the development-led approach to reconstruction proposed in an inter-agency UNDP document (Rogge 1995), this paper takes the position that ‘development’ ought not to be the watchword. Rather, as post-war aid needs for reconstruction are ascertained, it is a word in reconstruction aid discourse to watch. Humanitarian concerns, rules and conditionalities should be uppermost. Confronted with such situations, perhaps there are new challenges for ways of thinking about aid responses. This paper attempts to identify some.
ISSN: 1328-7854


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