The Role of the Military and Police in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

  • Jon FraenkelEmail author


The July 2017 end of the 13-year 2003–17 Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) presents an opportunity to look back at what this achieved, how the mission was constituted, and how it compares with other contemporary so-called state-building missions in places like Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, and East Timor. In other settings, intervention missions rebuilt security forces from scratch. In Solomon Islands, which had no domestic military forces, the initial surge in the foreign military presence was short-lived. Over the 13 years as a whole, the policing operation was the core focus of RAMSI (despite much propaganda emphasis on the civilian components). RAMSI pursued a ‘two forces’ model, with key objectives of the mission being delivered by an organisationally separate ‘Participating Police Force’ (PPF), largely comprising officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) force. In the initial phases of RAMSI, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) was largely left on the sidelines, encouraging a deep sense of demoralisation among the senior officers. Over the longer run, the RSIPF was reconstituted, with a new generation of younger officers emerging. Major disturbances accompanying the 2006 election, and more sporadic public order breakdowns thereafter, encouraged Australia to extend the policing operation beyond the termination of the military component and, in 2013, beyond the end of the civilian parts of RAMSI. This chapter assesses the initial core organisational framing choices of RAMSI, examines what has been achieved, and asks what the likely legacy will be.


  1. ABC. 2011. Returning stability to the Solomons. December 4.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2013. Australian police return to Vanuatu. Australian Network News, February 13.Google Scholar
  3. Albrecht, P., and P. Jackson. 2014. State-building through security sector reform: The UK intervention in Sierra Leone. Peacebuilding 2 (1): 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen, Matthew. 2011. Long-term engagement: The future of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Strategic Insights, March, 1–18.
  5. Allen, Matthew, Sinclair Dinnen, Daniel Evans, and Rebecca Monson. 2013. Justice delivered locally: Systems, challenges and innovations in Solomon Islands. World Bank, J4P.
  6. ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute). 2003. Our failing neighbour: Australia and the future of Solomon Islands. Policy Report.
  7. AusAID. 2011. ‘True cost’ of policing in the Solomon Islands; Identifying policing and security expenditures and costs borne by external agencies. March 9. Unpublished Report.Google Scholar
  8. Batley, James. 2005. The role of RAMSI in Solomon Islands: Rebuilding the state, supporting peace. Peace, Justice & Reconciliation Conference, Honiara, March 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  9. Bayley, David. 2001. Democratizing the police abroad: What to do and how to do it. US Department of Justice.
  10. Belloni, Roberto. 2007. Statebuilding and international intervention in Bosnia. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, Terry. 2007. A reflection on Solomon Islands politics. Seminar paper for the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, Australia, May 22. Unpublished.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2012. The military should leave. Solomon Star, February 27.Google Scholar
  13. Call, Charles T. 2008. Knowing peace when you see it: Setting standards for peacebuilding success. Civil Wars 10: 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Caplan, Richard. 2006. International governance of war-torn territories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Collier, Paul. 2009. Wars, guns and votes: Democracy in dangerous places. Place of publication not identified, Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  16. DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). 2003. Agreement between Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga concerning the operations and status of the police and armed forces and other personnel deployed to Solomon Islands to assist in the restoration of law and order and security (Townsville, 24 July 2003).
  17. DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade). 2018. Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Solomon Islands concerning the basis for deployment of police, armed forces, and other personnel to Solomon Islands, signed Canberra, 14 August 2017. Entry into force for Australia: 13 June 2018.
  18. Dobbins, J., J. McGinn, K. Crane, S. Jones, R. Lal, A. Rathmell, R. Swanger, and A. Timilsina. 2005. America’s role in nation-building from Germany to Iraq. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ellison, Chris. 2004. Australia boosts regional law enforcement capacity. Minister for Justice and Customs, Media Release.Google Scholar
  20. Emmot, Sue, Manuhuia Barcham, and Tarcisius Kabutaulaka. 2011. Annual performance report 2010: A report on the performance of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
  21. Fraenkel, Jon. 2004. The manipulation of custom: From uprising to intervention in Solomon Islands. Canberra and Wellington: Victoria University Press and Pandanus Books.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2015. The teleology and romance of state-building in Solomon Islands. Journal of Pacific History 50 (4): 398–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fraenkel, Jon, Joni Madraiwiwi, and Henry Okole. 2014. Independent review of the Regional Assistance Mission of the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), commissioned by Solomon Islands Government & Pacific Islands Forum, July 2013–July 2014 (National Parliament Paper No. 27 of 2014).
  24. Glenn, Russell. 2007. Counterinsurgency in a test tube: Analyzing the success of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Santa Monica, RAND National Defense Research Institute, Monograph MG-551.
  25. Greener, Beth. 2007. Crossing the green or blue line? Exploring the military-police divide. Small Wars and Insurgencies 18 (1): 90–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haque, Tobias. 2013. Economic transition in Solomon Islands. SSGM In Brief 16: 1–2.Google Scholar
  27. Hegarty, D., R. May, A. Regan, S. Dinnen, H. Nelson, and R. Duncan. 2004. Rebuilding state and nation in Solomon Islands: Policy options for the regional assistance mission. SSGM Discussion Paper 2: 1–17.Google Scholar
  28. Henderson, John. 2007. New Zealand and Oceania. In New Zealand and World Affairs IV, 1990–2005, ed. Rod Alley. Wellington: Victoria University Press.Google Scholar
  29. High Court of Solomon Islands. 2008. Regina v Maoma—Application for Amnesty [2008] SBHC 49; HCSI-CRC 300 of 2006. August 8, 2008.
  30. Hood, Ludovic. 2006. Missed opportunities: The United Nations, police service and defence force deployment in Timor Leste, 1999–2004. Civil Wars 8 (2): 143–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Horn, A., F. Olonisakin, and G. Peake. 2006. United Kingdom-led security sector reform in Sierra Leone. Civil Wars 8 (2): 109–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jamieson, Will. 2007. Rebuilding a police service—Restoring law and order: An overview of the activities of the PPF in the Solomon Islands. State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Seminar, November 15.Google Scholar
  33. Knaus, G., and F. Martin. 2003. Travails of the European Raj: Lessons from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Journal of Democracy 14 (3): 60–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Krasner, Stephen. 2004. Sharing sovereignty: New institutions for collapsed and failing states. International Security 29 (2): 85–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Le Roy, Katy. 2013. Participatory constitution making: Lessons from Fiji and Solomon Islands. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
  36. Lemay-Hébert, Nicolas. 2009. UNPOL and police reform in Timor-Leste: Accomplishments and setbacks. International Peacekeeping 16 (3): 393–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Loughlin, Martin. 2003. Ten tenets of sovereignty. In Sovereignty in transition, ed. Neil Walker, 55–86. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  38. Lyon, James. 2005. EU’s Bosnia police mission is “laughing stock”. International Crisis Group. 15 September.
  39. Manning, Carrie. 2006. Political elites and democratic state-building efforts in Bosnia and Iraq. Democratization 13 (5): 724–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McDevitt, Ben. 2006. Operation Helpem Fren: A personal perspective. Australian Army Journal 3 (2): 1–18.Google Scholar
  41. Meek, Sarah. 2003. Policing Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone: Building the Road to Recovery ed. Mark Malan, Sarah Meek, Thokozani Thusi, Jeremy Ginifer, and Patrick Coker, 105–116. ISS Monograph No. 80.Google Scholar
  42. Moore, Clive. 2018. The end of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (2003–2017). Journal of Pacific History 53 (2): 164–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ni Aolain, Fionnuala. 1998. The fractured soul of the Dayton peace agreement: A legal analysis. Michigan Journal of International Law 19: 957–1004.Google Scholar
  44. Palmer, Albert. 2008. Submission to the inquiry into the facilitation of international assistance notice. 23 September, Unpublished.Google Scholar
  45. Parliament of Australia. 2003. Report of the parliamentary delegation to the Solomon Islands. 17–18 December 2003.
  46. Peake, Gordon, and Kaysie Studdard Brown. 2005. Policebuilding: The international deployment group in the Solomon Islands. International Peacekeeping 12 (4): 520–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Perrit, Henry. 1999. Policing international forces and security: International police forces. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, March, 281–324.Google Scholar
  48. Porter, D., T. Haque, and T. Botrill. 2010. Solomon Islands growth prospects: Constraints and policy priorities. World Bank.
  49. PPF (Participating Police Force). 2009. Independent review of the RAMSI Participating Police Force’s (PPF’s) capacity development of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF). Final report, 29 September.Google Scholar
  50. RAMSI. 2004. RAMSI’s first year. Unpublished document.Google Scholar
  51. ———. 2013a. Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands Participating Police Force. The status of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and its capability as of 30th June 2013. 2011–13 Transition Outcome Report.Google Scholar
  52. ———. 2013b. Regional assistance mission to Solomon Islands participating Police Force. Drawdown Strategy 2013–17.Google Scholar
  53. Sarjoh Bah, Alhaji. 2012. Sierra Leone. In Exit strategies and statebuilding, ed. R. Caplan, 100–116. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Senate (Australia). 2008. Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping operations. Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, August.
  55. SIG (Solomon Islands Government). 2009. Partnership Framework between Solomon Islands Government and Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. April 2009, Unpublished.Google Scholar
  56. ———. 2001. Amnesty Act, passed by the National Parliament on 2nd April 2001.
  57. ———. 2003. Facilitation of International Assistance Act.Google Scholar
  58. ———. 2009. Amendment to the Facilitation of International Assistance Act.Google Scholar
  59. Sydney Morning Herald. 2010. Solomons police arrest 37 during riots. November 30.Google Scholar
  60. Tansey, Oisín. 2013. Evaluating the legacies of state-building: Success, failure, and the role of responsibility. International Studies Quarterly 58 (1): 174–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. The Age. 2004. Troops sent in after killing. December 23.Google Scholar
  62. United Nations. 1999a. UNMIK regulations, 1999/1,1.1.
  63. ———. 1999b. Regulation No. 1999/1 on the authority of the transitional administrator in East Timor.
  64. Warner, Nick. 2004. RAMSI Press Conference: RAMSI’s objectives for 2004. Lelei Resort, February 16.Google Scholar
  65. Whalan, Jeni. 2010. The power of friends: The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. Journal of Peace Research 47 (5): 627–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson, Bu. 2012. To 2012 and beyond: International assistance to police and security sector development in Timor-Leste. Asian Politics and Policy 4 (1): 73–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilson, Graeme. 2009. The Solomon Islands Government—RAMSI partnership framework: Towards a secure and sustainable Solomon Islands. Special Coordinator address to State Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, December 17, 2009.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations