In recent years, the Pacific has not been an ocean of peace. After a generally harmonious transition from European colonialism to independence, a number of the small Pacific island states have been plagued by internal conflict.
The largest of the Pacific island states, Papua New Guinea, having withstood the challenge of regional separatist groups in Papua and in Bougainville on the eve of independence, faced a rebellion on Bougainville from 1988 to 1997 (and is still in the process of implementing a peace agreement) and has seen an escalation of local-level inter-group fighting in the central highlands over the past two decades. Fiji became the first Pacific island state to have a military coup, in 1987, and continues to suffer the effects of racially-based tensions. In the Solomon Islands, ethnic divisions contributed to an outbreak of violence on the island of Guadalcanal in 1998, which culminated in the effective collapse of government two years later. Vanuatu’s transition to independence was marred by a separatist rebellion on the island of Santo, and although it has enjoyed a relatively peaceful history since 1980 it has had to survive more than one constitutional crisis. In New Caledonia, independence demands by the indigenous kanak people resulted in violent confrontation between pro- and anti-independence groups in the 1980s, and New Caledonia remains a French dependency.
While each of these cases is, to some extent, a unique reflection of particular historical and other circumstances, there are some recurring features of the internal conflicts, which largely derive from the fragmented nature of the pre-colonial societies and/or ethnic divisions created by the influx of settler populations during the colonial period, and the absence, in all these cases, of a developed sense of national (as opposed to local) identity.
This paper will briefly describe the nature of the conflicts in each of the four states and one territory listed above, and the processes of conflict resolution in each. It will then attempt to identify what features are common and what are unique in the five cases, and to suggest some lessons from their experience, which might be relevant to conflict and peace-making elsewhere....
Internal conflict has become the predominant threat to the security and stability of many of the small island nations of the Southwest Pacific and particularly in the countries of Melanesia.
Since the late 1980s, conflicts of varying causes and degrees of intensity have occurred in Papua New Guinea (Bougainville secession attempt)i, Fiji (coups and attempted coups), Vanuatu (police rebellion) and Solomon Islands (ethnic conflict and coup).
These events have seriously debilitated the already fragile national economies and polities of all countries, so much so in the Solomon Islands that that country is now being described by many analysts as a “failing”, if not “failed”, state.ii
While most of these countries have so far been able (not without difficulty) to maintain a measure of state integrity, the situation in Solomon Islands has become so precarious that Australia and New Zealand (with the support of most Pacific Island governments and anticipating a request from the Solomons’ parliament) are preparing to intervene in an attempt to restore the rule of law and rebuild administrative institutions. The form of that intervention is not yet clear - it is thought likely to include up to 2,000 armed military and police with a large team of civilian technical personnel – nor has a mandate been determined.
In this context a host of questions arises as to how best to resolve, contain, manage and/or transform these internal conflicts in the interest of the security, stability and well-being of the peoples of the countries concerned and of the region as a whole. The purpose of this paper is to consider one form of conflict management undertaken recently in the region; that is, the peace monitoring interventions by Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in Bougainville and Solomon Islands. How useful have these exercises been in assisting peace processes and in conflict management/peace construction, and what lessons can be drawn from them for any future such operations - including perhaps for the more vigorous “co-operative intervention” currently in prospect?...
March 26, 2008 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association // University of Melbourne
This paper has as its focus the recent experience of peacekeeping and peacebuilding in East Timor and the Southwest Pacific. The general context is the trend towards the regionalization of such matters at a global level. In this case we have some specific situations within the same broad area of the world (extending from the eastern end of Southeast Asia into the adjoining parts of the Pacific islands region). An analysis of peacekeeping and peacebuilding in these situations can be useful in at least two respects.
It is possible to observe the political dynamics underlying peacekeeping and peacebuilding in these situations with a view to seeing whether they are consistent with broader international trends. At the same time the experience in East Timor and the Southwest Pacific might provide insights that could be relevant in other contexts. Peacekeeping refers to international ‘intervention’ to restore security or to deal with a deteriorating security situation. Peacebuilding is the long term process focusing on political, economic and social development as a means of rebuilding societies and avoiding situations that jeopardize security, whether defined in terms of state security or human security more broadly....
Rev Akuila Yabaki, Executive Director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, writes that "this is the fourth coup that Fiji has experienced in the past 20 years, after two military takeovers in quick succession in 1987 and one civilian-led coup in 2000". He sets out the sequence of events from 5 December 2006, the date that the military coup d'etat took place in the Republic of the Fiji Islands, and outlines the causes of the conflict. He also says, "many commentators, including the Citizens' Constitutional Forum (CCF), believe that Fiji is now in the grip of a dangerous 'coup cycle' that needs to be broken if the country is to have any hope of achievi#ng long-term prosperity. Breaking this cycle will at least require de-politicisation of Fiji's military, and possibly much wider social change"....
May 24, 2006 Australian National University // State, Society And Governance In Melanesia Project
The decade since the early 1990s has witnessed the growth of a field of research and practice aimed at resolving and preventing violent conflict. Research on violent conflict has led to a number of different theories on causes of violent conflict, many of them based on the study of large-scale, protracted conflicts in Africa and the Balkans. Advocates of conflict prevention have linked longer-term root causes of violent conflict to aspects of underdevelopment, and tensions inherent in development processes....
December 12, 2006 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Fiji, an island republic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is a tropical paradise. Midway between the equator and the South Pole, about 2,800 kilometres from Sydney, Australia, its climate is hot and sunny. Its reefs, rainforests and beaches make it a popular tourist destination. It also has a well-deserved reputation for political turmoil. Since winning independence from Britain in 1970, it has gone through four coups, and the fundamental cause of the disputes continues to fester. The latest coup came in December 2006....
Fijians go to the polls on Saturday (May 6) in the first general election since the post-coup vote in 2001. The racial divide between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians, the descendants of labourers brought over from India, is likely to dominate the week-long poll.
The following factsheet provides background information concerning the economic, social, and political climate of Fiji. It includes a brief history, some basic economic statistics, and demographic figures as well. It was last updated in May of 2005.
March 16, 2005 International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Ante Gotovina, a former French Legionnaire of the rank of Chief Corporal, returned to Croatia in June 1991, whereupon he was appointed Chief of Operations and Training of the 1st Brigade of the Zbor Narodne Garde ("ZNG") (National Guard Corps). From February to April 1992, he was Deputy to the Commander of the Special Unit of the Main Staff of the Croatian army, the Hrvatska Vojska (the "HV"), and from April to October 1992, he was assigned to the Croatian Defence Council, the Hrvatsko Vijece Obrane (the "HVO"). On 9 October 1992, Ante Gotovina, holding the rank of Brigadier, was appointed the Commander of the Split Operative Zone of the HV (which in 1993 was re-named the Split Military District), and held that command until March 1996. On 30 May 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Major General. By early August 1995, he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel General. On 4 August 1995, the Republic of Croatia launched a military offensive known as "Oluja" or "Storm" ("Operation Storm"), with the objective of re-taking the Krajina region. Ante Gotovina was the overall operational commander of the Croatian forces that were deployed as part of Operation Storm in the southern portion of the Krajina region, including the municipalities, in whole or in part, of Benkovac, Gracac, Knin, Obrovac, Sibenik, Sinj and Zadar. On 7 August 1995, the Croatian government announced that the Operation had been successfully completed. Follow-up actions continued until about 15 November 1995. Between 4 August 1995 and 15 November 1995, the accused Ante Gotovina, acting individually and/or in concert with other members of the joint criminal enterprise, planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, or execution of persecutions of the Krajina Serb population in the southern portion of the Krajina region. The crime of persecutions was perpetrated through the following: plunder of public or private property, destruction of property, deportation and forced displacement, murder and other inhumane acts...
December 3, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
The East Indians are widely dispersed across the country although many are laborers on the country's sugar cane plantations. There has been no significant migration among regions within the country.
Group members speak Hindi which is in contrast to the Fijian language that the majority community uses. The East Indians follow different social customs than the native Fijians and they are also primarily Hindus or Muslims while the majority group is mainly Methodist Christian.
The East Indians in Fiji have four of the factors that increase the likelihood of persistent future protest: significant political restrictions; the transitional and unstable nature of Fiji's government; recent repression against the group; and diplomatic support from kindred in India.
The future of the East Indians will likely depend on whether they are able to convince the native Fijians to negotiate a political compromise. To date, the Fijians have rejected any electoral victories by the East Indians. It remains to be seen if the majority community is willing to reach an agreement that would allow the institutionalization of a power-sharing agreement that would give a voice to both of the two groups who comprise the country's population....
Besides imposing smart sanctions, travel advisories to ensure that tourist industry is affected, periodic verbal and economic threats and lobbying international agencies to cut their links with Fiji, both Australia and New Zealand think that by these methods a small country like Fiji could be squeezed into submission. They are mistaken.
In our last paper on the developments in Fiji, in paper no. 2095 dated 12th January, we had said that the interim Prime Minister Cdr. Bainimarama is planning to seek the support of other countries other than Australia and New Zealand. Both Australia and New Zealand had continued to take a tough position that included a travel ban not only of those who have taken over power but also civil servants of the new regime who had nothing to do with the coup. But both countries seem to be showing now some wi#llingness to seek accommodation with the new regime. New Zealand went out of the way in not only imposing sanctions but also persuading other countries like China not to support the new regime. The Chinese have been slow to react but so far have not committed themselves and the Chinese Ambassador had said that he would verify whether the Chinese government had really agreed to go with New Zealand as declared by the New Zealand Prime Minister....
The Military Commander after taking over as interim Prime minister has consolidated his position by forming an interim cabinet with members drawn not only from the opposition but also from the erstwhile ruling party SDL of Qarase. The Great Council of Chiefs, the highest body in Fiji threw in its lot with the Commander. Another surprise followed with Mahendra Chaudhry the leader of the Fiji Labour Party and a former Prime minister accepting a cabinet position with finance portfolios. He has also begun in earnest the clean up campaign. The Chief Justice was given the choice of either going on leave pending enquiry or be sacked. He chose the former. The same treatment was meted out to the chief Magistrate of Suva. Major changes have also been made in the bureaucracy....
In exactly a month after take over, the ousted President Ratu Josefa Iloilo retrieved his position as President. The very next day he appointed Commodore Bainimarama as the Interim Prime Minister. Apparently Iloilo considering the ground realities agreed to become the President once again and the deal is not only to make the military commander an interim prime minister, but also to pave the way to grant immunity to the commander and his troops. Before handing over executive authority to the ex President, on January 4 2007, Commodore Bainimarama outlined in great detail, the reasons for taking over the executive authority and in removing the Qarase's government....
Events in Fiji took an inevitable turn with both the government and the military providing no space for a compromise. A meeting scheduled by the President Iliolo on the morning of 5th did not materialize as Qarase this time refused to attend the meeting. There was a misunderstanding, in that earlier the President's Secretary perhaps without proper authorization from the President asked the Prime Minister either give in to the demands of the military or resign. Qarase turned it down and publicly announced defiantly that he continued to remain the lawfully elected Prime minister....
February 24, 2010 United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre // Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
In the last couple of decades, debate within the international community and the Pacific has centred on the challenges posed to socio-economic and political development by insecurity and conflict. This focus has also resulted in a shifting understanding of security, which now includes the safety and well-being of people and communities as well as the security of the state.
The Pacific, like other regions, is dealing with a difficult and diverse set of law enforcement, governance and security challenges. The region has witnessed violent conflict, civil unrest and political crises. This has led to a growing recognition of the critical role of law enforcement agencies and security institutions. However, in recent years, there have been concerns that these institutions lack capacity to meet the challenge of providing security to the general public; that governments do not have the necessary civilian security expertise to manage them; that legislatures are not empowered to oversee them; and that security forces are not held accountable under the law for their actions. Effective governance of security institutions is vital for the Pacific region. In the context of conflict and violence, it supports the efforts of state institutions to stabilize the security situation, begin the road to recovery and reduce the potential of relapse. In non-conflict contexts, it ensures security institutions fulfil their mandate to combat insecurity. This creates an enabling environment for poverty reduction and sustainable development....
This report illustrates Amnesty International’s concerns about widespread human
rights violations which followed then President Ratu Josefa Iloilo’s abrogation of the
Fiji Constitution on 10 April 2009. These include violations of the rights to freedom
of assembly, opinion, expression and movement, the right to a fair trial, and
freedom from arbitrary detention.
Amnesty International was present in Fiji during the abrogation of the Constitution
and its aftermath and managed to conduct extensive consultations and interviews
with activists and stakeholders about the human rights situation there. During the mission, Amnesty International obtained first hand information about ongoing
human rights violations and the Fijian people’s prevailing fears about the impunity
with which the authorities violate human rights there.
These violations have been facilitated, among other things, by the unilateral and
unconstitutional removal by the President of legal safeguards against human rights
violations, including human rights provisions in the Constitution; provisions on the
independence of the judiciary and of legal professionals in general; and the granting
of wholesale impunity to officials who violate human rights when implementing
In this report, Amnesty International calls on the government of Fiji to put an
immediate halt to all human rights violations by members of the security forces and
government officials, including the arbitrary arrests; intimidation and threats; and
assaults and detention of journalists, government critics and others. The Fijian
government should also immediately repeal the Public Emergency Regulations
(PER) in force since 10 April 2009, whose broad and sweeping provisions have
enabled officials to violate key human rights with impunity. Finally, the government
must ensure that all serious violations of human rights are subject to prompt,
independent, effective and impartial investigations and that suspected perpetrators,
including those suspected of ordering these acts, regardless of rank, are brought to
justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness without
recourse to the death penalty....
Fiji President Iloilo’s abrogation of the 1997 constitution has
entrenched a military dictatorship in Australia’s backyard.
Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s dominant leadership of the
interim government and his exclusion of dissenting voices will
exacerbate and accelerate economic decline in Fiji and cause
unprecedented hardship to Fiji’s population. The economic
implications threaten the whole Pacific Islands region and challenge
Australia’s capacity to demonstrate regional leadership....
There have been four coups d’état in Fiji since 1987. Two coups were in 1987, one in 2000 and
the most recent on 5 December 2006. The December 2006 coup saw the commander of Fiji
military forces, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, stage a military takeover against Prime Minister
Laisenia Qarase, who had been installed by the military after a civilian coup d’état was
squashed in 2000. Qarase eventually won two parliamentary elections giving legitimacy to his
government. Following the 2006 coup, on 4 January 2007 the military announced that it was
restoring executive power to former President Josefa Iloilo, who had endorsed the actions of the
military. The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama interim prime minister.
The Council issued two press statements on the situation in Fiji in 2006. About a week before
the coup, on 29 November, the Council issued a statement indicating that the Council was
concerned about the challenges posed by the Fiji military commander to the government of
Prime Minister Qarase. It also stated that the Council welcomed and supported the regional
efforts to encourage restraint and avoid taking action that would undermine rule of law. It also
encouraged the Secretary-General to use his good offices to help resolve the dispute. (SC/8881)
The second press statement was issued two days after the coup and said that the Council was
“gravely concerned” about the situation in Fiji and hoped that restraint would be exercised and
peaceful solution achieved in accordance with Fiji’s constitution and that a democratically
elected government would be reinstated. The Council also encouraged the Secretary-General to
work with Fiji’s regional and international partners to restore the legitimate government.
U.S. policymakers have made securing and maintaining foreign contributions
to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq a major priority since the preparation
period for the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. This report
highlights and discusses important changes in financial and personnel contributions
from foreign governments to Iraq since 2003.
To date, foreign donors have pledged an estimated $16.4 billion in grants and
loans for Iraq reconstruction, with most major pledges originating at a major donors'
conference in Madrid, Spain, in October 2003. However, only a small part of the
pledges have been committed or disbursed to the World Bank and United Nations
Development Group Trust Funds for Iraq. The largest non-U.S. pledges of grants
have come from Japan, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Canada,
South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have pledged the most loans and export
Currently, 33 countries including the United States have some level of troops
on the ground in Iraq or supporting Iraq operations from nearby locations. Those
forces are working under the rubric of one of several organizations — the
Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I); or
the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Currently, the largest
troop contributors, in addition to the United States, are the United Kingdom, Georgia,
Australia, South Korea, and Poland. Some of these key contributors have announced
their intention to reduce or withdraw their forces from Iraq during 2008. The total
number of non-U.S. coalition troop contributions has declined since the early
stabilization efforts, as other countries have withdrawn their contingents or
substantially reduced their size....