Breaking Spears and Mending Hearts: Peacemakers and Restorative Justice in Bougainville

Pat Howley tells the extraordinary story of how, in the 1990s, in the crisis of civil war, the people of the island of Bougainville - the eastern frontier of Papua New Guinea - returned to their traditional peace making and conflict resolution processes as the western court system collapsed. Prominent is oral evidence from the people who experienced the crisis - the victims, the freedom fighters, and the women who took a leading part in the peace process. Much is through their eyes, in their words. Howley, Executive Director of the PEACE Foundation Melanesia, was with them through most of the war. He assisted a melding of custom law with Western learning on restorative justice and win-win mediation. The success was so remarkable that the processes set up are now being used in most village communities as the norm for conflict resolution and the village court system is largely superseded. Howley analyses the effectiveness of this marriage and how it can be used in the future when Bougainville achieves autonomy. He also discusses the devastation to Bougainville's culture and identity caused by the giant copper mine which dominated the PNG economy, and how the islanders are coping with the residue of trauma from the civil war.