Resolving the Bougainville conflict : readiness and third party intervention in civil war
Type of content
This thesis explores the validity and usefulness of Dean Pruitt's (1997) conflict resolution theory called 'Readiness' by applying it to two case studies of mediation by New Zealand in the Bougainville civil war. Pruitt holds that a party will move toward the peaceful resolution of a heavily escalated conflict to the extent that it is both (a) motivated to achieve de-escalation, and (b) optimistic about finding a mutually acceptable agreement. The stronger the parties' motivation to achieve de-escalation, the more effective are third party good offices and other mediation tactics at the light end of the intervention spectrum. When motivation to de-escalate is strong, one of the most useful things a third party can do to aid the parties toward resolution is to create the conditions that allow optimism to grow during negotiations.
New Zealand's intervention in the civil war between the Papua New Guinea government and factions from the island of Bougainville in 1990 and later in 1997-1999 was researched to determine whether readiness theory could accurately capture why the earlier peace process failed whereas the later process was successful. A detailed account of both attempts at peace, drawing on interviews with participants in each process, provides the basis for analysis of the significance of readiness as a theoretical concept.
Whereas the unsuccessful Endeavour talks in 1990 revealed an absence of optimism about settlement on the part of the parties, the successful Burnham-Lincoln peace process of 1997- 1999 occurred when all parties were both motivated to de-escalate and optimistic about reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. In the latter case, motivation to de-escalate was, as Pruitt hypothesises, the consequence of the.circumstances experienced by parties prior to conflict resolution efforts whereas optimism about reaching an agreement was mainly provoked by events which took place after the parties had become motivated to settle. Furthermore, it appears that New Zealand played an important role in encouraging the development of optimism while employing a low key communication-facilitation strategy. These findings highlight the importance of readiness as both an analytic and prescriptive tool.