The Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat has set out its support to the disposal of weapons in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville ahead of the referendum on its future political status.
Members of the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat from the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government came together to commence the first formal meeting of the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat in Arawa on 13 February 2019.
The way forward includes the development of a process of verification of weapons disposal and inclusion of the Me’ekamui into the weapons disposal process through acceptance of a jointly accepted weapons disposal plan. A work plan will be developed for the secretariat to guide further awareness and monitoring of weapons disposal and for joint working and cooperation between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).
The secretariat is co-chaired by the Director General, Social Policy & Governance, Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council, Mr Christopher Asa, and the Acting Director for Department of Peace Agreement Implementation, Autonomous Bougainville Government, Mr Denis Kuiai.
“I am very pleased with the strong participation in this important meeting with representatives across the two governments, the Bougainville Police Service and the Me’ekamui. The involvement of Mr Moses Pipiro, representative of Me’ekamui, in the process underlines the progress being made. We must continue to build on the momentum to free Bougainville of weapons for its security as well as compliance to the Bougainville Peace Agreement,” said Mr Denis Kuiai.
Weapons disposal forms one of the pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and is a key part of the referendum ready process. A Four-Phase Weapons Disposal Plan has been designed and endorsed by the Joint Supervisory Body for constituencies to follow.
“Weapons disposal remains a key part of the referendum process and lies central to constituencies declaring themselves referendum ready. The Secretariat has agreed to a plan to support further data collection, with monitoring missions soon to commence.” Mr Christopher Asa said.
The purpose of the meeting was for the Secretariat to take stock of the implementation of the weapons disposal plan, achievements, further actions and how the Secretariat can best support continuation of the process. The outcomes paper that summarises what was achieved during the meeting will be submitted to the upcoming Joint Technical Team meeting to be held in Port Moresby on 26 February, ahead of the JSB meeting.
The meeting was supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund project “Sustaining Peace in Bougainville”, with technical expertise on weapons disposal provided by Mr Clyde Parris.
Source: UNDP in Papua New Guinea