Keeping The Peace In Solomon Islands
Year(s): 2001 – 2017.
Location: Solomon Islands.
UN Regional Group: Asia-Pacific.
Type of Conflict: Risk of a Horizontal (non-state) Intrastate Conflict, Risk of Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict.
Type of Initiative: A monitoring mission and a peacekeeping mission.
Main Implementing Organisation(s): The governments of Pacific states led by Australia and the Commonwealth.
Summary: The International Peace Monitoring Team, Peace Monitoring Council, and Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands helped to prevent armed conflict in Solomon Islands after the unrest of 1999-2000.
Description of Case
The Townsville Peace Agreement prevented an armed conflict and created a framework for comprehensive reforms aimed at alleviating some of the problems that brought Solomon Islands so close to war in 1999. Implementing such reforms posed a significant challenge for the fragile state of Solomon Islands, particularly given the uncertainty that followed the crisis and coup d’état. A key provision of the Agreement called for the integration of 200 demobilised combatants into the police force. By the end of 2001, over 2,000 new “special constables” were on the police payroll, the majority of whom came from the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF). Combined with police involvement in the 2000 coup, this left the security services in Solomon Islands as a politicised (and armed) institution. Furthermore, elections scheduled for the end of 2001 threatened to spark another crisis. Thus, while fighting had been avoided, there was every likelihood that the Solomon Islands peace process could be derailed.
The challenge of maintaining peace on Solomon Islands first fell to the International Peace Monitoring Team and Peace Monitoring Council. Alongside a host of international election observers, these organisations helped to ensure that the December 2001 elections went ahead peacefully. A more significant challenge proved to be disarmament, which was carried out amidst a backdrop of frequent clashes between and within the various militias on Guadalcanal. However, by working with communities and religious groups, thousands of potential combatants had disarmed by July 2002. Such efforts ultimately proved to have little effect on the situation and Solomon Islands continued to stand on the precipice of armed conflict, leading the newly elected government to formally request international assistance through the mechanisms of the Pacific Islands Forum in July 2003. Within days, the first personnel of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) arrived in Solomon Islands and established security across the country. Unusually for a peacekeeping mission, the police component led the operation, with the military playing a supporting role. RAMSI remained in place until 2017, helping to foster stability, disarm militias, build effective state institutions (including the police force), and preventing outbreaks of electoral violence in 2006 from escalating into armed conflict.
 Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka. “A Weak State and the Solomon Islands Peace Process.” Pacific Islands Development Series, No. 14. (2002) p.3
 John Braithwaite et al. Pillars and Shadows: Statebuilding as Peacebuilding in Solomon Islands. (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2010) p.38
 International Republican Institute. Solomon Islands Parliamentary Election: Observer Mission Report. (Washington, DC: International Republican Institute, 2001)
 Braithwaite et al. Pillars and Shadows. p.39
 Julein Barbara. “Antipodean Statebuilding: The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and Australian Intervention in the South Pacific.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Vol. 2, No. 2. (2008) p.124
 Australian Civil-Military Centre. Partnering for Peace. p.28
 Roderick Brazier. “What Has RAMSI Achieved?” Australian Institute of International Affairs. (2017) Available at: https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/what-has-ramsi-achieved/ (Accessed 01/12/2020)