Peter Donigi reviews the rights of indigenous landowners of Papua New Guinea within the current legislative and constitutional framework, in the light of existing international law and United Nations Declarations on the subject of indigenous rights.
The current Papua New Guinea legislative scheme has disenfranchised the landowners of their constitutional and internationally recognised right to property. It makes the landowners dependent on the goodwill of the state and on the mining and petroleum companies and denies them the right to a bargaining position. For as long as this situation remains, Donigi argues, all gold, minerals and petroleum currently exploited from land owned by indigenous populations are subject to legal challenge.
For as long as this situation continues, new mines such as the Lihir gold mine will remain hotbeds for future conflicts.