Solomons Federalism, and Bougainville Referendum: Issues and Prospects—Part 1

Solomons Federalism, and Bougainville Referendum: Issues and Prospects seminar

Both Solomon Islands and Bougainville are approaching critical points when longstanding debates about proposals and processes for fundamental changes in political arrangements are coming to a head. In Solomon Islands, work on a draft federal constitution is nearly complete (Yash Ghai and Jill Cottrell Ghai have been advising the Solomon Islands constitution review process over the past two years). In Bougainville, a ‘target date’ for a referendum for Bougainvilleans on the political future of Bougainville (inclusive of a choice of independence) has been set for mid-2019. In both places the processes involved are complex, controversial and potentially divisive, as are the potential outcomes of the process.

Professor Yash Ghai was a key adviser on the Solomon Islands independence Constitution, and over the past two years has been advising on the development of the new draft federal constitution. He has just completed several weeks working in Honiara on this project. The changes in the draft Constitution - when compared to the independence Constitution - extend far beyond federalism.

Jill Cottrell Ghai, has been a Professor of law in numerous universities, including Ife and Ahmadu Bello Universities in Nigeria, Warwick University and University of Hong Kong. She also has extensive experience in advising on constitutions, including in Kenya, Nepal and Iraq.

Hon. Chief Dr John Momis (who worked closely with Yash Ghai on PNG and Bougainville constitutional issues in the 1970s as well as during the Bougainville Peace Process in 1999 - 2000) is the President of Bougainville, heading the Autonomous Bougainville Government in its negotiations with the Papua New Guinea Government in relation to the many aspects of the autonomy arrangements left to negotiation in the few years before the referendum is held.

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