This paper examines lessons about efforts to build peace from three very different conflicts – Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Fiji. These three island states share characteristics common to the states of the southwest Pacific region known as Melanesia. They have small populations (PNG 5.5 million, Fiji 850,000, Solomon Islands 400,000), possess remarkable cultural and linguistic diversity, experienced a late imposition of colonial rule, emerged recently from colonialism – Fiji in 1970, PNG in 1975, and Solomon Islands in 1978 – and share weak economies and states inherited from reluctant colonial powers.