The ethnic violence in Solomon Islands between 1998 and 2003 — which locals refer to as “the Tensions” — saw fighting between militants from Guadalcanal island and the nearby island of Malaita. After the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement in 2000, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was established in 2003 to help restore law and order and lay the foundation for long-term stability. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also in place from 2008 to 2012. In mid-2017, RAMSI departed but some of the underlying grievances have continued to linger. National identity, land ownership, the question of victim reparations, marginalization, lack of economic prospects, especially for women and youth, remain serious challenges. These are compounded by vast physical distances between citizens and the central government, limited infrastructure and connectivity, obstacles for women in politics, entrenched interests and perceptions of corruption, fueling feelings of disenfranchisement.
PBF projects in Solomon Islands aim to ensure that gains achieved by Solomon Islanders with RAMSI support are cemented for greater cohesion and unity, whilst some of the deeper conflict-related issues are addressed through dialogues and agreed actions. To this end, in July 2016, the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) provided a first allocation of USD $2.5 million to help prepare for and support a peaceful post-RAMSI transition. The first PBF project focused on facilitating dialogues on the country’s future and key peacebuilding needs; supporting marginalized youth in ‘hot spot’ areas with socio-economic assistance; and promoting the participation and role of women in decision-making. The second project was approved at the end of 2017. It aims to continue the dialogues as well as women’s empowerment, whilst supporting specific issues identified in the national and provincial dialogues supported in the first project, including land reform, anti-corruption, decentralization, border security and the Government’s policy on reparations.
PBF Investments in Solomon Islands:
Total allocation: $5.5 million invested since 2016
Current portfolio: $3 million
Focusing on: Peaceful dialogue
Partners: UNDP, UN Women