The island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) struggles from a range of factors that exacerbate its fragility, from intercommunal violence to the potential secession of the autonomous Bougainville region to its inability to hold safe and credible elections. Sexual- and gender-based violence against women also runs rampant in the country. While the PNG state is weak and garners little trust from the people, there are critical civil society actors working to address the country’s instability and mitigate violence.

PNG is also at the center of geopolitical competition between the United States and China in the Pacific Islands regions. The United States has demonstrated that it views addressing PNG’s challenges as a vital interest by designating it as a priority country under the Global Fragility Act.
 
USIP’s Andrew Cheatham spoke with Gordon Peake — an affiliate at the Center for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Studies at Georgetown University — about PNG’s fragility, how to address it and the importance of working with civil society to build resilience in the country.

Related Publications

In Papua New Guinea, Homegrown Solutions Should Guide U.S. Aid

In Papua New Guinea, Homegrown Solutions Should Guide U.S. Aid

Monday, October 3, 2022

By: Jessica Collins

“The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility,” President Biden declared in April. These words came just two months into Russia’s war on Ukraine and during a time of concern for Western countries as China flexed its muscular diplomacy in the Pacific Islands region. Biden’s statement also sets the scene for the U.S. administration’s new approach to peacebuilding, which aims to prevent conflict from erupting in fragile states by disrupting drivers of instability.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & ResilienceGender

The Latest @ USIP: How to Address Fragility in Papua New Guinea

The Latest @ USIP: How to Address Fragility in Papua New Guinea

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

By: Laura Bailey

There are many risks factors to stability in Papua New Guinea (PNG), requiring a holistic approach to addressing its fragility and building resilience. Exacerbating these risk factors is a deficit of trust between the state and its citizens. As the United States implements a new strategy to advance peace and security in PNG, it will be critical to repair the citizen-state relationship.

Type: Blog

Fragility & Resilience

A Framework for U.S. Engagement with Papua New Guinea

A Framework for U.S. Engagement with Papua New Guinea

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

By: C. Steven McGann

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has become a key focal point for the United States as it aggressively renews ties with Pacific Island countries. U.S. engagement with PNG will require a comprehensive approach that incorporates cross-nation security cooperation and development assistance. Traditional approaches are insufficient to meet these goals. The United States should envision a framework beyond sole reliance on its military and civilian agencies. This new framework would serve to address PNG’s unique challenges, counter China’s regional activism and undergird U.S. leadership in the Pacific.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & ResilienceGlobal Policy

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

Friday, August 12, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Camilla Pohle-Anderson

Now that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has been reelected, the stage is set for him to settle what he has called the biggest issue facing the country — the future political status of Bougainville, an autonomous region seeking independence by 2027. Papua New Guinea is unlikely to let it secede, but Bougainville is unlikely to settle for anything less than full independence, and positive relations between the two governments will be of paramount importance in the coming years. Meanwhile, intensifying U.S.-China competition in the South Pacific creates wider implications for Bougainville’s potential independence.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

View All Publications