The trouble with RAMSI: reexamining the roots of conflict in Solomon Islands

Hameiri, Shahar (2007) The trouble with RAMSI: reexamining the roots of conflict in Solomon Islands. The Contemporary Pacific, 19 2: 409-441. doi:10.1353/cp.2007.0052

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Author Hameiri, Shahar
Title The trouble with RAMSI: reexamining the roots of conflict in Solomon Islands
Journal name The Contemporary Pacific   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1527-9464
Publication date 2007-01-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1353/cp.2007.0052
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 19
Issue 2
Start page 409
End page 441
Total pages 33
Place of publication Honolulu, HI, United States
Publisher University of Hawaii Press
Language eng
Abstract While the debate that has followed the intervention by the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has centered on the suitability of the failed state label to Solomon Islands, I argue that this debate is misdirected because the concept of state failure itself is accepted uncritically. Examining what is meant by state failure is crucial, because (a) it has assumed an almost commonsensical mantle, which obscures its particular political and ideological underpinnings; and (b) it has considerable conceptual limitations that render it a problematic framework for explaining the roots and possible trajectories of the conflict in Solomon Islands. State failure is essentially a descriptive category with limited explanatory capacity, grounded in a depoliticized and ahistorical theorization of institutions, state, and society. At its core is an unhelpful preoccupation with state capacity as measured against a hypothetical legal-rational good-governance model. Conflicts are understood in this framework as the result of poor governance or recalcitrant social forces. RAMSI, consequently, has sought to strengthen the institutional capacity of Solomon Islands as the key to conflict resolution as well as a preventative long-term peace-building initiative. In contrast, I argue that unless we develop a clearer understanding of the causes and dynamics of conflict, RAMSI's state-building approach is likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate tensions in Solomon Islands. This approach involves a shift in emphasis away from the current fixation on institutional capacity audits associated with the failed state concept, toward a more constructive theorization of the historically contingent relationship between changing patterns of economic development and social conflict.
Keyword Solomon Islands
Failed state
State capacity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 29 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 25 Feb 2016, 20:18:06 EST by Bronwyn Clare Crook on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies