Churches to play vital role in peace building and conflict prevention
Goroka – Preventing conflict and fostering a culture of peace is of critical importance throughout many parts of Papua New Guinea, with churches well placed to play a vital role in achieving both of these objectives.
With thanks to support from UN Women a two-day forum recently took place in Goroka, seeing the PNG Council of Churches, church leaders from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Government entities, civil society organisations, women leaders and development partners all come together to discuss cross-sectoral partnerships to address conflict prevention and how as a unified group they can continue to raise awareness on the upcoming referendum in Bougainville.
The message of achieving peace by peaceful means was a sentiment shared by all in attendance, with the impending Bougainville referendum and peace building efforts throughout the Highlands of Papua New Guinea both key agenda items.
Chairman of the PNG Council of Churches Bishop Denny Bray Guka said the event provided the opportunity for a much-needed dialogue on these issues.
“We see our partners here and how we can mobilise best with government and others. I’ve found this forum to be very good, particularly the opportunity to hear from people working on the ground,” Bishop Denny said.
During the two-day event participants heard presentations on the Bougainville Peace Agreement, from the Bougainville Referendum Commission on referendum preparations, women leaders on their involvement in the Bougainville peace process, and from both the Department of Justice and civil society organisations working in the Highlands of PNG to combat sorcery accusation related violence.
Beatrice Tabeau, National Programme Specialist with UN Women, said that she hopes this is the first of many such meetings moving forward.
“The link between churches, peace building, gender equality and women’s empowerment is a vital one, and UN Women looks forward to continuing its support of the PNG Council of Churches in its endeavours in both promoting peace and the rights of women,” she said.