Anecdotal evidence suggests that conflicts over land and extractive resource developments are on the rise across Papua New Guinea. These micro-level conflicts have the potential to scaleup and feed into large-scale armed conflicts—such as those that occurred on Bougainville and in neighbouring Solomon Islands—which require costly external intervention. Against this backdrop, this paper examines PNG’s legally-mandated land mediation system in theory and practice. A number of weaknesses are identified and described; and a case study of an apparently successful “hybrid” approach is discussed. The paper concludes with recommendations for further analytic work and interventions that may strengthen the land mediation system and, in turn, the prospects for both national and regional security.
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