The Pacific islands face an increasing number of challenges in today’s world, but Pacific people are not helpless. Climate change, geopolitics, increasingly authoritarian governments, the legacy of past war and the ongoing work of decolonisation are just some of the threats that Pacific people face – but they are standing up. In the climate crisis they say ‘we’re not drowning, we’re fighting! And in facing up to the other challenges Pacific people are not pawns – they are bishops.
This session will present the views of a diverse group of Pacific islander peace champions, and some of their friends. We will present diverse perspectives on how Pacific people frame their work around peace.
Shaping and inspired by the Pacific community’s new Blue Pacific 2050 strategy, this conversation will address ecological peace and a non-securitised approach and bring in grassroots, faith and other perspectives, celebrating action from the village to the global stage.
Moderator: Dr Michael Mel (Peacifica – based in Mount Hagen, PNG)
Michael A. Mel (Ph.D) recently completed a stint with the Australian Museum as manager of the Pacific and International Collection. The Museum has one of the largest Collections of cultural material from the Pacific region. He gained the skills and knowledge of the Mbo Wamp (Mogei) of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a focus on their world view and performance arts of storytelling and dance. He has worked with a range of scholars in higher education, curators and artists in PNG and the Pacific region with a focus on cultural heritage and change. Michael has worked with a variety of Museums, tertiary institutions and supports research organisations including CABAH in an advisory capacity, NGOs including Peacifica and RCF as a member of the Boards. For his work in celebrating and safeguarding culture in the region, the Royal Dutch family and the Government of the Netherlands recognized him with a Prince Claus Foundation Award. Currently, he is serving as advisor on matters relating to history and heritage and advocacy on Indigenous knowledge and ways to Museums and researchers. He is also an advocate for REAL ways to sustain and maintain a future for the Mogei and communities in PNG.
Jeanne Wills is a researcher and campaigner passionate about international development and disarmament issues. She studied a Bachelor of International Studies at RMIT where she became interested in the role of non-for-profits in the global arena. While interning at SafeGround, she conducted research into the health of military drone operators. And subsequently worked on the Pacific Campaign to Stop Killer Robots conducting outreach and advocacy to Pacific governments and civil society. With a developing career in this space, she is always keen to network and develop new relationships with peacebuilders in the Pacific and beyond.
.Yauka Liria: Institute of National Affairs, Port Moresby, PNG: Yauka is a former PNG military officer who has a BA from UPNG. Has worked in Waigani (the center of PNG government administration) for over 20 years as ministerial staff to several prime ministers and several ministers and also had short stints in several government departments. Has also worked with diplomatic missions in Port Moresby; in 1999 he was a visiting fellow at ANU under the Pacific Islander Leadership Program.
Currently with a local think tank in Port Moresby. Yauka has published few books including ‘Bougainville Campaign Diary’ about his experiences during the civil war on Bougainville. Between 1999-2000 he was involved in the Bougainville peace process as a member of the national government’s working committee which aided the national leadership in addressing the peace process. More recently, being involved with law & justice sectoral program, he has conducted basic research into conflict prevention in local communities and has compiled a training curriculum to be used for short training courses aimed at providing basic knowledge & skills for conflict prevention and management to frontline officers in the local communities at the sub-national levels.