Solomon Islands

From 1998 to 2003, the Solomon Islands experienced widespread civil strife, violence, and displacement. ICTJ has worked with the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help the country move toward national reconciliation.

Image of a stakeholders awareness workshop in Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Participants engage in a stakeholders awareness workshop as part of the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Background: Reconciling the Tensions

From 1998 many people from densely populated provinces such as Malaita settled in the capital Honiara in search of work. Between 1998 and 2003—the period know as "the tensions"—violent land disputes between settlers and militants based in Honiara left many people internally displaced.

Although numerous peace agreements were signed from 1999, the violence—which included beatings, arson, kidnapping, looting, torture, rape and extrajudicial detentions—continued. In 2000 militants took control of the police armory and forced the Prime Minister to resign at gun point.

By early 2003, armed groups had brought the state to the brink of collapse. In July 2003, the government welcomed the Regional Assistance Mission for Solomon Islands (RAMSI), a multinational regional police-centered force. Its mission was to restore law and order and rebuild the country’s institutions.

With support from RAMSI, the Solomon Island’s judiciary held several dozen "tension trials" for crimes committed from 1998 to 2003. The government established a Ministry of National Unity, Peace and Reconciliation to deliver reconciliation programs including workshops and consultations with communities and leaders.

Other conflict resolution initiatives have included the symbolic exchange of food and traditional shell money between parties to represent reconciliation and forgiveness. The government also established compensation programs in 2001 and 2002, although these have been heavily criticized for compensating militants and politicians instead of those most affected by the conflict.

In 2008, the Solomon Islands Government legislated to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate past abuses. The TRC officially began its activities on January 15, 2010, and its initial one-year mandate was extended to January 2012.

ICTJ's Role

After the Solomon Islands Parliament unanimously passed the TRC Act in 2008, the government requested ICTJ’s assistance in designing a TRC appropriate for its needs. Since the TRC’s establishment, ICTJ has helped train the commissioners and TRC staff. Other activities include:

  • Media training for journalists who cover the TRC.
  • Workshops across the nation for religious leaders involved in local justice and reconciliation efforts.
  • Awareness-raising among other local stakeholders.

ICTJ continues to provide advice, support and assistance to the TRC as it develops approaches to fulfilling the various areas of its mandate.