The North down under: antinomies of conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands

Drawing upon recent critiques of the ways in which organised political violence in the global ‘South’ is interpreted and responded to, this paper examines the recent conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands. We argue that standardised liberal templates have served to frame both the aetiology of the Solomons conflict and the manner of its proposed resolution. Australia’s intervention in Solomon Islands can be said to represent the ‘local North’ as it seeks to impose a liberal peace over a ‘deviant’ and ‘unruly’ neighbour. We draw upon published material to highlight the social, cultural and historical contexts of the conflict. We then demonstrate how the ‘off-the-shelf’ intervention, with its emphasis on asserting a liberal peace, fails to account for these complex social dimensions of the conflict. The antinomies of conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands demonstrate how both the liberal interpretation of developing-country conflict and its bedfellow, the liberal peace, attempt to divorce conflicts from their social contexts. In doing so, the demonstrable potential for violent intrastate conflict to result in positive social transformation is reduced.

Managing Insecurity: Field Experiences of Security Sector Reform

Effective peacebuilding in the aftermath of civil war usually requires the drastic reform of security institutions, a process frequently known as security sector reform. Nearly every major donor, as well as a growing number of international organizations, supports the reform of security organizations in countries emerging from conflict and suffering high levels of violence. But how are reform strategies implemented? This collection of case studies (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Timor-Leste, Mozambique, Serbia, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Jamaica) examines the strategies, methods, and practices of the policymakers and practitioners engaged in security sector reform, uncovering the profound conceptual and practical challenges encountered in transforming policy aspiration into practice.

Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions

In a sweeping review of forty truth commissions, Priscilla Hayner delivers a definitive exploration of the global experience in official truth-seeking after widespread atrocities. When Unspeakable Truths was first published in 2001, it quickly became a classic, helping to define the field of truth commissions and the broader arena of transitional justice. This second edition is fully updated and expanded, covering twenty new commissions formed in the last ten years, analyzing new trends, and offering detailed charts that assess the impact of truth commissions and provide comparative information not previously available. Placing the increasing number of truth commissions within the broader expansion in transitional justice, Unspeakable Truths surveys key developments and new thinking in reparations, international justice, healing from trauma, and other areas. The book challenges many widely-held assumptions, based on hundreds of interviews and a sweeping review of the literature. This book will help to define how these issues are addressed in the future.

Capacity and its Fallacies: International State Building as State Transformation

Considerable effort in recent years has gone into rebuilding fragile states. However, the debates over the effectiveness of such state-building exercises have tended to neglect that capacity building and the associated good governance programmes which comprise contemporary state building are essentially about transforming the state — meaning the ways in which political power is produced and reproduced. State capacity is now often presented as the missing link required for generating positive development outcomes and security. However, rather than being an objective and technical measure, capacity building constitutes a political and ideological mechanism for operationalising projects of state transnationalisation. The need to question prevailing notions of state capacity has become apparent in light of the failure of many state-building programmes. Such programmes have proven difficult to implement, and implementation has rarely achieved the expected development turnarounds or alleviation of violent conflict in those countries. In this article it is argued that, to identify the potential trajectories of such interventions, we must understand the role state building currently plays in domestic politics, and in particular, the ways in which processes of state transformation affect the development of different and often conflicting power bases within the state. This argument is examined using examples from the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

Transnational Police Building: Critical Lessons from Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands

In this paper we begin by defining and examining the concept of police building. Its historical precedents and contemporary forms are briefly reviewed, showing a variety of motives and agendas for this kind of institution building. We argue that police building has been a relatively neglected dimension of nation- and state-building exercises, despite its importance to functions of pacification and restoration of law and order. The emerging literature on international police reform and capacity building tends to adopt a narrow institutionalist and universalistic approach that does not take sufficient account of the politics of police building. This politics is multilayered and varies from the formal to the informal. Using two case studies focusing on events in 2006 in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands, the reasons for the fragility of many current police-building projects are considered. In both cases, we argue, police capacity builders paid insufficient attention to the political architecture and milieu of public safety.

Peacebuilding in the Pacific: The Australian Military Experience

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is currently involved in peacebuilding operations in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands; Australian government agencies remain engaged in reconstruction in post-conflict Bougainville (Papua New Guinea). Peacebuilding has been and will remain a major task for the ADF in the Pacific, as part of a larger governmental and aid response. The wider context for these commitments is the view that state incapacity or even failure is in prospect in parts of Australia’s immediate Pacific region. The causes of state failure include lack of a diversified economy, a dependence on exports of natural resources, a rapidly growing population, and poor education levels; a number of Pacific countries exhibit these characteristics. The conflict on Bougainville has been the most intractable in which Australian forces have been involved. The formation of Peace Monitoring Groups (largely composed of ADF personnel, but unarmed) engaged in weapons destruction, building trust and encouraging the eventual realisation of local autonomy was a major contribution to the peace process. The ADF experience of Timor-Leste dates from INTERFET. The need to redeploy peacekeeping troops in 2006 demonstrated that the existing peacebuilding program focused especially on security sector reform, while positive was still too narrow to address governance incapacity problems. From 2003 ADF elements have been central to the RAMSI reconstruction program in Solomon Islands. Though violence has largely been eradicated, the political crisis of 2006 demonstrated the need for the closest cooperation with the host government. These regional case studies show that peacebuilding is a complex task which requires engagement across all of the institutions of order and governance as well as with the wider society. Security sector reform remains a crucial area of peacebuilding in which military forces are inextricably involved. However, effective security reform depends ultimately upon the existence of governments that welcome, support, and own such reform.

Security and Development in the Pacific Islands: Social Resilience in Emerging States

Reflecting a growing awareness of the need to integrate security and development agendas in the field of conflict management, the authors of this original volume focus on the case of the Pacific Islands. In the process, they also reveal the sociopolitical diversity, cultural richness, and social resilience of a little-known region. Their work not only offers insight into the societies discussed, but also speaks to the realities of political community and statebuilding efforts throughout the developing world.