Accepted paper:

Legacies of foreign peacebuilding in Solomon Islands: tales of gendered inequalities, political centralization and a distrusted police force


Stephanie Ketterer Hobbis (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation examines the enduring, often unintended, outcomes of an Australia-led intervention in Solomon Islands. It focuses on three challenges in the peace process: gendered violence and inequalities, political (de-)centralization, and the (re-)establishment of trust in the police force.

Paper long abstract:

The Australia-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI, 2003-2017) was in many ways modelled after the UN intervention in Timor-Leste. Many of the participating peacebuilders having served in both locations and researchers regularly note the general comparability of the two interventions and closely related peacebuilding efforts such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. My presentation takes this comparability as a starting point for discussing the shared but also the diverging experiences with, and legacies of, foreign peacebuilding on the ground. Drawing on thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural and urban Solomon Islands (2014-2015; 2018), particular emphasis will be placed on the enduring and, often unintended, outcomes of the RAMSI intervention. I will focus on three core short- and long-term challenges faced by the peace process: gendered violence and inequalities, political (de-)centralization, and the (re-)establishment of public trust in the police force. Current debates about each of these enduring challenges reveal not only unforeseen consequences of peacebuilders' often well-intentioned efforts but also how the intervention force has, in several cases, been merely supplementary or peripheral to the peace process.

panel J4
Peaceful accidents in the shadow of hegemony: the unintended outcomes of international peace interventions in Asia-Pacific (Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste)